How did Grace Coolidge use her position as First Lady to support important causes?
In 1931, Grace Coolidge was voted one of America’s greatest living women. What did she do to earn that title?
Grace Coolidge was the First Lady(wife of a US president) of the United States from 1923 to 1929. She was married to President Calvin Coolidge. She used her role as First Lady to help people with disabilities and support important causes.
Grace Coolidge was born as Grace Goodhue in Burlington, Vermont in 1879. She was a very good student who enjoyed music and activities. Goodhue attended the University of Vermont at a time when most of the students were men. She then became a teacher at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Massachusetts.
Grace Goodhue married Calvin Coolidge in 1905. Early in their marriage, Mr. Coolidge became involved in politics. Grace Coolidge stayed home and raised their two children. When Calvin Coolidge became president in 1923, she became First Lady. She was known for her kindness and her love for children and animals.
The Coolidges once received a raccoon meant to be cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead they decided to keep her as a pet and call her Rebecca. They also had birds, cats, dogs, and ducks as White House pets. Some people sent them lions and a bear, but the Coolidges gave these animals to the zoo.
Grace Coolidge helped with many good causes. She supported the American Red Cross and the Traveling Nurses Association. She invited Helen Keller to visit the White House. Helen Keller was a blind and deaf woman who advocated(supported publicly) for people with disabilities. Grace Coolidge also worked to raise $2 million for the Clarke School for the Deaf.
One difficult time for Mrs. and Mr. Coolidge was when their son Calvin died suddenly in 1924. Grace Coolidge continued her activities as First Lady even though it was a very sad time for the family. She faced the public and continued to support her husband while he was President. During her years in the White House, Grace Coolidge earned the respect and admiration(strongly liking or looking up to someone) of Americans.
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
Calvin Coolidge was elected as a leader. Grace Coolidge was not. What should the role of the First Lady be?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Watch the video Grace Coolidge from This Place in History
Learn more about President Calvin Coolidge
Look at photographs of the Coolidges
Learn more about the White House Raccoon, Rebecca
See a 1928 newspaper article about White House pets
Watch a video that shows Grace Coolidge at the 1924 World Series baseball game
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "Grace Coolidge." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed March 28, 2023. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/grace-coolidge