STAUNTON, VIRGINIA—The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum announced today a new wedding exhibit displayed in President Wilson’s Birthplace, including vintage wedding dresses and Wilson family wedding announcements.  The exhibit is timed to coincide with the spring wedding season and the upcoming Wilson First Families Reunion to be held at the Presidential Library.  

The display includes three vintage wedding dresses from President Wilson’s time, including one belonging to President Wilson’s niece, Alice Wilson McElroy.  Mrs. McElroy’s wedding on August 7, 1918, to Presbyterian minister I. Stuart McElroy, Jr., was the last White House wedding until Luci Johnson’s wedding to Pat Nugent in 1966.  The wedding was held in the Blue Room at the White House, as a security precaution at a time of war.  The wedding dress belonging to President Wilson’s sister-in-law, Kate Wilson, who was Alice McElroy’s mother, is also on display.  Mrs. Wilson was the bride of Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Jr., the younger brother of President Wilson.  Alice Wilson McElroy donated both of these dresses to the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation in 1966, months before the Johnson/Nugent wedding.  The day she presented the dresses and other items to the Foundation, Mrs. McElroy wore the wedding dress and was interviewed by CBS television for a news story on White House weddings.   

The third wedding dress on display belonged to a Harrisonburg, Virginia, bride who was married on November 7, 1916, the day President Wilson was reelected President.  In addition to the dresses, the exhibit includes the wedding invitations for the President’s daughter Jessie Woodrow Wilson’s White House wedding on November 25, 1913, to Francis Bowes Sayre; his daughter Eleanor Randolph Wilson’s White House wedding on May 14, 1914, to William Gibbs McAdoo, who was President Wilson’s Secretary of the Treasury; and the President’s December 18, 1915, wedding to Edith Bolling Galt.  Guests can also see a reproduction of a Victorian wedding cake and read a brochure about Victorian wedding customs.   

The wedding exhibit has been produced to be in time for the spring wedding season and the Fourth Annual Wilson First Families Reunion, which will be held at the Presidential Library from Thursday, May 7, through Saturday, May 9.  It is also produced in time for Mothers’ Day, which President Wilson and Congress started in 1914, and on which mothers receive free admission to the Presidential Library.  The exhibit will remain on display until at least June.  

Those with questions about the wedding exhibit or any other part of the Presidential Library’s collections should contact Jarod Kearney, the Curator at the WWPL, at (540) 885-0897, ext. 111, or at  Those with questions about the First Families Reunion, Mothers’ Day, and visiting the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library should contact Barbara Wimble, Manager of Visitor Services at the Presidential Library, at (540) 885-0897, ext. 106, or by email at

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