Who was Ellen Axson Wilson, the first wife of Woodrow Wilson?   Called Elly-Lou by friends and family we know she was 5’3” tall, with dark reddish brown hair, often piled high in a pompadour style, away from her face.  She had brown eyes and soft feminine features.  She was born in Savannah Georgia on May 16, 1860, the oldest of four children, and the daughter and grand-daughter of Presbyterian ministers.  We also know she was the mother of three girls, the wife of the 28th President of the United States, and that she died early in his first term on August 6, 1914 at age 54 years.  Interested in learning more?  Join us at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Sunday August 11, 2013 from 1:30-3:30 pm  to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Ellen Axson Wilson. Artifacts, clothing, letters all from Ellen’s life and never before exhibited to the public, will be on display.  A wonderful opportunity to get a first-hand look at American History while supporting the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library.
Ellen had but a year and five months in the White House and her memory is overshadowed by the second Mrs. Wilson. This is unfortunate, because Ellen made her own contributions while First Lady.  Her gentle manner and soft southern drawl made the staff call her the “Angel of the White House.”  She held over 41 receptions averaging 600 guests in her first Spring at the White House, and still found time to redecorate the family quarters. She oversaw the creation of the Rose Garden, but perhaps her greatest contribution lies in her campaign for the passing of a bill that would destroy the slums and create better housing for Washington D.C.’s poor (The Ally Dwelling Bill).  Interested in working conditions for women in the Post Office, Ellen also championed child labor laws, enforcement of school attendance laws, and the use of schools as recreation centers.  Woodrow Wilson absolutely depended on Ellen.  She was his constant counselor and advisor, the perfect political wife both frank and honest.
Ellen Axson Wilson gloried in the achievements of her husband, but also of women and saw the 20th Century as the woman’s century.  Devoted to Woodrow and his career, Ellen was a wife with interests, opinions, and even a career of her own.  Her time in the White House was short, but she greatly expanded the role of the First Lady.  The cost for this program is $5.00 for League of Friends Members and $10.00 for non-members.  For questions or reservations call (540) 885-0897, x113 or email eshortt@woodrowwilson.org


did you know?

Wilson was president throughout World War I. He sought a neutral position for the United States and even won reelection with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Nonetheless, actions by the Central Powers (notably Germany) threatened this neutrality. Following years of attacks on American shipping and citizens on the high seas, particularly the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, public opinion began to turn. The final straw came with the release of the Zimmerman Telegram, forcing the United States to declare war on the Central Powers in April of 1917, joining the war on the side of the UK, Russia, and France.

Woodrow Wilson was President when the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Wilson piloted the ship that brought America onto the world stage. He made the first steps of leading us out of isolationism, violating Washington's tenet of avoiding foreign entanglements.

He led America during World War I. His fervent hope was for the US to join a League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "The Constitution was not made to fit us like a straitjacket. In its elasticity lies its chief greatness."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being."

The Seventeenth Amendment was formally adopted on May 31, 1913. Wilson had been president for almost three months at the time. The amendment provided for the direct election of senators. Prior to its adoption, Senators were chosen by state legislatures.

Wilson was the first president to receive a PhD which he got in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. He had received his undergraduate degree from the College of New Jersey, renamed Princeton University in 1896.

Woodrow Wilson could not read during the first decade of his life. Though undiagnosed, he may have suffered from a learning disability

Woodrow Wilson was known as "Tommy" until his college years.

Woodrow Wilson during his boyhood, helped establish the "Lightfoot Baseball Club" with his friends. Wilson played second base and was an avid sport fan throughout his adult life.

Woodrow Wilson was the first president to attend the Major League Baseball Fall Classic. He saw the debut of a young 20 year old pitcher by the name of George Herman "Babe" Ruth.

Woodrow Wilson was a graduate of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University and the only president to hold an earned doctoral degree.

Woodrow Wilson image is on the $100,000 bill although it is no longer in circulation