American Women!
A Celebration of Our History
April 22 -- October 29, 2000

First Lady and Public-spirited Citizen


". maybe if I as First Lady could talk about it (breast cancer) candidly and without embarrassment, many other people would be able to as well."

First Lady and Caregiver


"Cabinet meetings were no place for a wife. I was supposed to take care of the house-period."

These two plain spoken First Ladies won the admiration of millions of Americans with their common sense approach to family values and their deep commitment to helping those in need.

Being First Lady was not easy for Betty Ford. She struggled with additions to painkillers and alcohol and discovered she had breast cancer a month after she moved to the White House. But she didn't hide her illness and courageously shared the information with the American people. She worked tirelessly to improve breast cancer awareness and started the Betty Ford Center to address the problems of substance abuse.

A champion of issues benefiting women and children, Rosalynn Carter became politically active when her husband was elected state senator. As first lady of Georgia, she made many recommendations on behalf of disabled persons. As First Lady, she chaired the President's Commission on Mental Health. Since 1984, she has worked for Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds affordable housing.

Although of different political philosophies, these two women shared in campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment, as well as a deep commitment for service to humanity. They remain role models for women and men across the nation.

Historic Artifacts:

DRESS worn by Betty Ford during a TV interview on 60 Minutes when she discussed breast cancer awareness.
PHOTO of Ford with her husband tossing a football after her breast cancer surgery
FRINGED JACKET, gift to Ford with the sewn letters, "First Momma"
ALFRED P. SLOAN AWARD presented to Ford for cancer awareness
ALICE PAUL AWARD to Ford for her support of the Equal Rights Amendment
CAMPAIGN BUTTON, "Betty's Husband for President"
PHOTOS: a) black and white portrait of Betty Ford when First Lady, b) of Ford during 60 Minutes interview, c) with supporters at an airport in Phoenix, and c) color portrait during her post-presidential years.
-- On loan from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library-Museum, Grand Rapids MI

BROCHURE and information about the Betty Ford Center
-- From the collections of the Betty Ford Center, Los Angeles CA

AFTERNOON DRESS worn by Rosalynn Carter on the day of the signing of the Camp David Accords.
AWARD to Carter from the President of the Mental Health Association.
TAPE MEASURE "made especially for Rosalynn Carter by Stanley"
T-SHIRT presented to Carter from an all-female construction crew, "Look Look See Jane Build Habitat for Humanity"
HANDWRITTEN NOTES (facsimiles) listing her goals and recommendations for the Presidential Commission on Mental Health
PHOTOS: a) portrait as First Lady, b) the Carters with Begin and Sadat at Camp David, c) Carter chairing the Mental Health Commission, and d) Rosalynn Carter with Betty Ford at a rally for the ERA.
-- From the collections of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library-Museum, Atlanta GA

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