Something Old, Something New: Eight First Daughters’ Fashionable White House Weddings explores the bridal fashions of eight first daughters who were married at the White House and demonstrates changes in fashion and taste during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Something Old, Something New examines the bridal styles of Maria Monroe, Elizabeth Tyler, Nellie Grant, Alice Roosevelt, Jessie Wilson, Eleanor Wilson, Lynda Bird Johnson, and Tricia Nixon to illuminate how bridal fashion changed over time and how first daughters balanced a deeply personal event with the growing public interest that surrounded their nuptials. Each woman blended their own personal taste with the fashions of their time. Their wardrobe choices show how they adapted larger trends to fit their own style. They embraced modish silhouettes while paying tribute to their heritage with traditional elements. This exhibit offers a unique perspective of over 150 years of wedding fashion history and considers how factors such as significant public interest, the growing prominence of the press, and changing social norms shaped weddings at an iconic venue: the White House.
Something Old, Something New: Eight First Daughters’ Fashionable White House Weddings
Maria Hester Monroe, youngest daughter of President James Monroe and First Lady Elizabeth Kortwright Monroe, married Samuel Laurence Gouverneur, private secretary to the President, on March 9, 1820.View here.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Tyler, the fifth child of President John Tyler and First Lady Letitia Christian Tyler, married William Nevison Waller, an attorney from Virginia, on January 31, 1842.View here.
Ellen “Nellie” Wrenshall Grant, only daughter of President Ulysses S. Grant and First Lady Julia Dent Grant, married Algernon Charles Frederick Sartoris, an English singer, on May 21, 1874.View here.
Alice Lee Roosevelt, eldest child of President Theodore Roosevelt and Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, married Nicholas Longworth, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio, on February 17, 1906.View here.
Jessie Woodrow Wilson, middle daughter of President Woodrow Wilson and First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, married Francis Bowes Sayre, an attorney, on November 25, 1913.View here.
Eleanor Randolph Wilson, youngest daughter of President Woodrow Wilson and First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, married William Gibbs McAdoo, Secretary of the Treasury, on May 7, 1914.View here.
Lynda Bird Johnson
Lynda Bird Johnson, elder daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson and First Lady Claudia Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson, married Charles “Chuck” Spittal Robb, a U.S. Marine Corps Captain, on December 9, 1967.View here.
Tricia Nixon, elder daughter of President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon, married Edward “Ed” Finch Cox, a Harvard law student, on June 12, 1971.View here.
This exhibit is a part of the White House Historical Association’s partnership with New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development to sponsor an intern to research and curate a digital exhibit focused on White House fashion. Jillian Staricka, an MA student in Costume Studies, curated this exhibit as the 2023 Digital Exhibits Intern.
This exhibit was made possible with the generous work and guidance of the White House Historical Association’s Digital Library team, Leslie Calderone, Rebecca Kaliff, and Alexandra Lane, and all the people who I reached out to in the research and making of this exhibit. I also want to thank all my amazing peers in the NYU Costume Studies program who have provided me with endless encouragement and advice as well as Dr. Rachel Lifter for all her generous support in the last year. Thank you to my family and friends for supporting all my academic endeavors and my love for American history. And finally, a grand thank you to everyone who has taken the time to interact with this exhibit and learn about some of the incredibly fashionable women who have graced the halls of the White House.