Laura Bush, Barbara Bush to headline Dallas history conference focusing on first ladies

Historians in the News

DALLAS — A Dallas conference to explore the power and mystique of first ladies that will culminate with a panel featuring Laura Bush and her mother-in-law, Barbara, began Monday with a discussion on the influence of the women who have held the post throughout history.

“The thing to me that is so remarkable about the women who have assumed this position is how much guts they have, how much brains they have, stamina that is beyond imagination and a willingness to rise above it and just do it,” said Allida Black, a research professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University....

In a morning panel, historians discussed several first ladies including Dolley Madison, whose influence in Washington went far beyond her time as first lady, and Lady Bird Johnson, who had the hard task of taking on the role after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“It wasn’t like when anybody else came into the White House,” said Bess Abell, who was White House social secretary for the Johnsons....

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