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C-SPAN series features MC professors

September 13, 2013

“First Ladies: Influence & Image” is a series that examines the private lives and public roles played by First Ladies in the White House, according to c-span.org. What began in February 2013 as a C-SPAN original series is now entering its second season and is scheduled to air through February 2014. According to the series’ webpage, it is produced in cooperation with the White House Historical Association in order to feature the women who served in the role of First Lady over 44 administrations. Additionally, this program is the first of its kind- a comprehensive biographical series, produced for television, on all of the First Ladies.

Not only is the series informational and relevant for historians and students alike, Monmouth College also has a unique connection to the project. Lewis Gould, a distinguished visiting professor at Monmouth will be featured on Helen Taft’s segment, airing September 16.
Additionally, chair of the history department Professor Stacy Cordery appeared on the September 9 program that featured Edith Roosevelt, the second wife of President Theodore Roosevelt.

When asked about the significance of appearing on national television, Cordery agreed that it was “wonderful publicity for Monmouth College. I was honored,” she continued, “to have been chosen for this segment on Edith Roosevelt.”

Cordery touts an impressive resume ranging from her position as the web bibliographer for the National First Ladies Library to her stature as a highly-praised author of four books. Her most recent work entitled “Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scots,” received rave reviews from publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and Publisher’s Weekly. In her nearly 20 years with Monmouth College, Cordery has made immense contributions to her department and has won the college’s only teaching award four times.

In addition to her book on Juliette Gordon Low, Cordery has written three additional books on the Roosevelt family, specifically, Theodore Roosevelt and his daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Therefore, when she was chosen to appear in the segment about Edith Roosevelt, Cordery felt right at home.

“Stepping outside of my role as historian, I would say that I personally love and loathe Edith Roosevelt in equal parts.” Cordery explains this statement by saying that Roosevelt was admired for her qualities as a good mother, wife and White House manager.

“However,” Cordery said “because of Dr. Gould’s ground-breaking research in his 2013 biography of Edith Roosevelt, it was proven that she was a cold and withdrawn woman with racist tendencies that went beyond the typical bigotry of the era.”

“Despite some of her negative qualities, at the time, Roosevelt was the epitome of the ideal woman. Even under the harsh glare of cameras and journalists, she managed the stress with grace and dignity.”

Although it may seem unlikely that two Monmouth College professors would be appearing on the same television program in consecutive weeks, this is hardly a coincidence. Cordery and Gould go back to their days at the University of Texas when Cordery took a course taught by Professor Gould.

Gould has written 25 books of American history, on topics ranging from presidential biographies to a history of the U.S. Senate. After teaching for 31 years at the University of Texas, Gould retired and moved to Monmouth in October 2012. While at UT Gould introduced a course on First Ladies, which was the inaugural course of its kind in the United States.

“Lady Bird Johnson has a special place in my heart because of the books that I have written on her and the interviews I have conducted. However, I believe that all First Ladies are interesting in their own way. I so appreciate everything that they all go through while living in the White House,” Gould said.

During the segment on Helen Taft, Gould hopes to discuss parts of her life that haven’t been covered extensively in the past. “Two months into the presidency, Helen Taft had a stroke and lost her ability to speak. Although she eventually regained much of her voice while in the White House, I find her journey to recovery inspirational.”

Additionally, Taft was very ambitious and determined in her pursuit to make Washington, D.C. the cultural center of the United States. As a result, she brought cherry trees to our nation’s capital in 1912.

“Taft was looking to leave a legacy, and that she did.”

Elizabeth Meyer
Features Editor

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One Response to C-SPAN series features MC professors

  1. 1980 Alum

    September 13, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Nice article. One additional comment…spell check does not always ensure the correct form of a word is in the text, to wit: “Girl Scots” vs. “Girl Scouts.”