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Photojournalism and the American Presidency - Reading America's Photos
Photojournalism and the American Presidency - Reading America's Photos
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Lesson Plans and Resources

The First Ladies

Lesson Plan One: First Ladies’ Early Lives
Lesson Plan One(.pdf)    Resources
Lesson Plan One Life Grid 1    Lesson Plan One Life Grid 2

Lesson Plan Two: Reading Historical Photographs
Lesson Plan Two(.pdf)    Resources

Lesson Plan Three: Roles and Responsibilities
Lesson Plan Three(.pdf)    Resources

Lesson Plan Four: First Kids
Lesson Plan Four (.pdf)    Resources

Lesson Plan Five:A Report Card
Lesson Plan Five(.pdf)    Resources



Video Clips:

“The First Ladies” - Lewis L. Gould, Ph.D.

“Images: The First Rough Contact Prints of History” - Lewis L. Gould, Ph.D.

Lesson Plan #1: First Ladies' Early Lives     Return to top

Audio Clip:

“A Great Moment” - David Hume Kennerly

Informational Links:

All First Ladies

Jackie Kennedy

Lady Bird Johnson

Pat Nixon

Betty Ford

Rosalynn Carter

Nancy Reagan

Barbara Bush

Hillary Clinton

Laura Bush

First Lady Fact Sheet Links:

For more information about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis go to the John F. Kennedy Library Website at:

For more information about Lady Bird Johnson go to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library website at:

For more on Pat Nixon see:

For more information about Betty Ford go to the Gerald Ford Presidential Library website at:

For more information on Rosalynn Carter go to the Carter Center website at:

For more information on Nancy Reagan, go to:

For more information on Barbara Bush go to the George H. Bush Presidential Library website at:

For more information about Hillary Rodham Clinton go to her website at

Lesson Plan #2: Reading Historical Photographs      Return to top


Diana Walker, 1989

During pre-Inaugural festivities at the Lincoln Memorial, President-elect Bush's tonsils get an examination from his granddaughter, Ellie LeBlond.

Diana Walker, 1977

President Jimmy Carter and the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, put their best face forward with their wives, Rosalynn Carter and Farah Diba, in Washington, D.C.

Wally McNamee, 1979

Less than a year after the signing of the Camp David Accords, President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and their wives, Rosalynn and Jehan, pose near the pyramids outside of Cairo.

David Hume Kennerly, 2000

At the governor's mansion in Austin on election night, George W. and Laura Bush are glued to the TV and surrounded by supporters, including Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former President George H. W. Bush and Dick and Lynne Cheney. Due to highly-contested election results, it would be five weeks before Bush delivered his victory speech.

Video Clip :

“Reading Photographs” - Don Carleton, Ph.D.

Document Analysis Worksheet:

Lesson Plan #3: the Various Roles and Responsibilities of a First Lady of the United States    
 Return to top

Audio Clip:

“Traveling With the First Lady” - Diana Walker


Wally McNamee, 1972

President Richard Nixon, First Lady Pat Nixon and Henry Kissinger (in the foreground) dine with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in Hung-chiao. The U.S. began re-establishing diplomatic relations with China during Nixon's tenure, and he was the first president to visit the communist nation while in office.

Diana Walker, 1985

First Lady Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev meet for tea during the Geneva summit.

Diana Walker, 1986

President and Nancy Reagan are surrounded by the families of the lost astronauts at the Challenger memorial service at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Diana Walker, 1979

First Lady Rosalynn Carter visits Cambodian refugees at the Sa Kaew camp in Thailand. Commenting about this photo in Diana Walker's book, Public & Private, Twenty Years Photographing the Presidency, Mrs. Carter said, "This was devastating to me. The refugees had just come in from Cambodia to the Thailand border. I picked up a baby and put it down on a blanket on the ground. They started crying and when I turned around the baby had died."

David Hume Kennerly, 1974

President Ford visits his wife at Bethesda Naval Hospital after her mastectomy. Betty Ford was known for her candid nature, and she reassured many Americans by openly discussing her battles with cancer and drug and alcohol dependency.

Diana Walker, 1989

First Lady Barbara Bush warns the students at an adult education center in London that her piecrust is not exactly something to write home.

David Hume Kennerly, 1998

President Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Vice President Al Gore attend an event in the Rose Garden.

Diana Walker, 1985

The Reagans give reassuring waves from Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland after the president's cancer surgery.

Lesson Plan #4: First Kids      Return to top


Dirck Halstead/Wally McNamee, 1974

Surrounded by his family, an emotional President Nixon bids a final farewell to his White House staff after resigning the presidency the previous day. The House Judiciary Committee voted three articles of impeachment against Nixon on July 30th, which quickly led to his resignation on August 8th.

David Hume Kennerly, 1974

On the first night of his presidency, Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty, celebrate with three of their four children: Steve, Jack and Susan. President Ford commuted from his home in Alexandria, Virginia to the White House for several weeks in 1974 following Richard Nixon's departure.

Dirck Halstead, 1976

The cover of the July 26, 1976 issue of Time magazine features presidential nominee Jimmy Carter at the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City. Carter's wife, Rosalynn, looks at daughter, Amy, in her father's arms as vice presidential nominee Walter Mondale and his wife, Joan, beam with pride.

Dirck Halstead, 1996

President Clinton embraces his wife, Hillary, and his daughter, Chelsea, at the 1996 Democratic Convention. Clinton would go on to win re-election with 70 percent of the electoral vote.

Lesson Plan #5: A Report Card      Return to top

No website resources are listed in the lesson plan.

First Ladies Resource List


Anderson, Alice E., (1992). Behind Every Successful President: The Hidden Powere and Influence of America's First Ladies.

Anthony, Carl S., (1991). First Ladies: the Saga of the President's Wives and Their Power, 1961-1990.

Caroli, Betty Boyd, (1989). First Ladies.

Gould, Lewis L. (ed.) (1996). American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacy.


The National First Ladies Library:

The White House:

The Presidential Libraries:

John F. Kennedy:

Lyndon Johnson:

Richard Nixon:

Gerald Ford:

Jimmy Carter:

Ronald Reagan:

George H. Bush:

Bill Clinton:

Teaching a First Ladies Curriculum in the Classroom:

Remember the Ladies: the First Ladies:

Using Primary Documents:

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