Mary Arthur McElroy
Mary Arthur was born in New York on July 5, 1841. Mary was the sister of future President Chester A. Arthur, nearly twelve years her senior, and the youngest child of William and Malvina Arthur. As a young woman, she married John E. McElroy, with whom she had four children; the family settled in Albany, New York.
Mary Arthur McElroy’s brother, Chester A. Arthur, was a widower when he assumed the presidency in 1881; his wife, Ellen “Nell” Lewis Herndon Arthur, had passed away from pneumonia in 1880. Mrs. McElroy agreed to act as White House hostess during the busy winter social season, returning to Albany in the spring to be with her husband and children. While in Washington, D.C., Mrs. McElroy performed the duties of first lady, hosting well-attended receptions, balls, and dinners while living at the Executive Mansion. Newspapers called her “a general favorite” at the White House.
Mrs. McElroy served as part-time White House hostess until the end of her brother’s administration in 1885. When Chester A. Arthur passed away in 1886, the McElroys became the legal guardians of his daughter, Nell. In the final years of her life, Mary Arthur McElroy expressed her devotion to civil rights while simultaneously opposing women’s suffrage. She passed away on January 8, 1917.
You Might Also Like
The First Ladies Symposium Videos
The First Ladies Symposium
The First Ladies: Fifty Years of Fashion and Style, 1960-2010
Foreword: Beyond the Sparkle by Marcia Mallet AndersonJean Louis Mazéas Hairstylist to First Ladies and White House Brides by L...
The First Ladies Symposium Contributors
Jill BidenJill Tracy Jacobs Biden was born on June 3, 1951, in Hammonton, New Jersey. Growing up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, she...
The First Ladies Symposium Schedule
May 6, 2021This program will be virtual9:00-9:15amWelcome and Overview Jill Biden, First Lady of the United StatesAnita McBride, Director...
Mid-Century Fashion and the First Ladies: From Ready-to-Wear to Haute Couture
Read Digital VersionForeword, William SealeThe Style of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt: Fashion and Frugality in Times of Depression and War,...
First Ladies' Private Lives
In the early decades of the republic a president's wife, like other wives, seldom displayed her private life to the...
The First Ladies
Read Digital EditionForeword, William SealeThe Office of the First Lady: Managing Public Duties, Private Lives, and Changing Expectations, Anita B....
Collection Presidential and First Lady Portraits
Since 1965, the White House Historical Association has been proud to fund the official portraits of our presidents and first ladies,...
Podcast Conversations from History Happy Hour
In this first episode of 2021, White House Historical Association President Stewart D. McLaurin introduces the Association’s popular virtual program Hi...
Collection Animal Ambassadors
Animals, whether pampered household pets, working livestock, birds, squirrels, or strays, have long been a major part of White House...
Collection The White House Behind the Scenes
While the presidency is often in the eye of the public, those who ensure operations at the White House run...