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First Ladies of the White House Review by Dawn Oaks

Nancy J. Skarmeas
Ideals Publications

First Ladies of the White House is not just another Who's Who book. This volume contains some of the most interesting information about the lives of the First Ladies of our nation in the biographical sketches that Ms. Skarmeas provides. In some situations, the primary "hostess" of an administration was a daughter or niece, as some of our presidents were bachelors or widowers. In the case of the Taylor administration, the First Lady was very much a recluse and allowed her daughter, Betty Bliss, to make public appearances in her stead.

Did you know that Martha Washington had been previously married and widowed, raising her children as a single mother and handling the estate of her late husband prior to meeting George Washington? Do you sometimes struggle with holding your tongue? Then you are not alone; Abigail Smith Adams was reluctant to take on the role of First Lady, as she was a very outspoken individual with strong opinions. These are just two of the very interesting facts that I learned while reading First Ladies of the White House.

When possible, the biographical sketches are accompanied by portraits. These are a wonderful tool for learning about period dress and hairstyles.

This resource would be a wonderful complement to any U.S. history course or a unit study on the presidents. The biographical sketches leave you wanting more and will cultivate an appetite for reading more lengthy biographies on some of these wonderful women. Our girls, ages 10 and 12, were enthralled with the facts and stories of these ladies, as I am sure any middle or high school student would be, especially young ladies.

Product review by Dawn Oaks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009