The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

January 21, 2013

Carol Stark: First ladies series tells other half of story

JOPLIN, Mo. — Who was the first lawyer to become a first lady? If you said Hillary Clinton, you are correct.

Here’s a question that’s a little more difficult: Who is the only first lady to have been legally adopted by her mother’s second husband?

That would be Nancy Reagan.

And, did you know that Barbara Bush is the only first lady to author a memoir from the viewpoint of the White House dog, her beloved Millie?

That’s just a sample of some of the things you will learn — or be reminded of — in our history series “First Ladies of America,” which begins on Monday. Because Monday also marks the inauguration of President Barack Obama, we will begin the series with a profile on first lady Michelle Obama and work our way through history to Martha Washington.

Our 2012 profiles of all the presidents, published up through Election Day, were so popular with our readers that we decided to tell the other half of the story. I knew even before we had finalized the details who I wanted as our writer. It had to be Katy Schrader. She formerly worked as a Globe reporter and then later worked as our Newspaper in Education coordinator. She is now getting her master’s degree, but continues to be an ardent champion of good writing and history.

I’ll never forget the day that Katy called me on the phone and jubilantly announced that she had discovered a photo of an actual pair of earrings worn by Pocahontas. For Katy, it was like winning the lottery. Painstaking in her attention to detail, Katy is researching and writing the first ladies series, while Freeman Health System is sponsoring the project.

The profiles will run consecutively for 45 days and will include photos — some of which have been difficult to obtain — of the first ladies.

I hope you enjoy this series of articles and share them with your friends and family.

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