“I think any woman can discuss with her husband topics of national interest. I became familiar with more than politics.”
First Ladies of the US Helen Taft Full Image

Helen Taft

Helen “Nellie” Louise Herron Taft
Years of service: 1909-1913
Born: 1861

First Ladies of the US Helen Taft Full Image

The White House left a deep impression on the young Helen Herron when her parents, close friends of President Rutherford B. Hayes, visited the mansion. She wanted nothing less than for her future husband to become President of the United States. Helen worked hard on every aspect of William Howard Taft’s 1908 presidential campaign with him, but always behind the scenes. Even then, her brashness raised eyebrows, and President Theodore Roosevelt accused her of seeking the presidency for herself instead of understanding her place as a political wife. At her husband’s inauguration, her triumph was complete when she broke precedent and became the first First Lady to ride next to him after the swearing-in ceremony. On a trip to Japan, Helen was inspired by the beauty of the country’s cherry trees. Her legacy lives on each year when the Japanese cherry blossom trees bloom along the Tidal Basin.


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Leaders in Literacy

4/30/2024 through 4/30/2025

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First Ladies as Teachers, Educators, and Librarians.

The right to an education is a foundational principle of America’s history, and many First Ladies have taken up this cause. We celebrate National First Ladies Day by kicking off this featured exhibit, presented by Huntington Bank.