East Wing Magazine’s 2023 Readers' Choice
Here are our 10 most popular stories of the year.
Five short months ago, East Wing Magazine launched a journalistic-driven, digital publication dedicated to bringing its readers closer to America’s presidential first ladies, present and past.
In that time, we saw the passing of an iconic first lady in Rosalynn Carter, whose legacy continued to unfold in an exquisitely planned three-day remembrance days after her death. We shined a spotlight on the growing scholarship of first ladies research with interviews of educators and authors of new books designed to inform the public about the often overlooked impact first ladies have on the presidency and on society through their sustained initiatives. We also explored historic first ladies, speaking to top experts about the legacies of Mary Todd Lincoln and Florence Harding and how their narratives have evolved over time. And, we paused to examine how we use language, specifically the title of first lady, in our publication to more appropriately reflect the “official” aspects of the still undefined, unpaid role of the position that historically has shown its influence on the presidency.
In the short time our journalists have been acquainted with our growing readership, we’ve learned what matters to our audience are compelling, substantive and fair stories about the iconic women who have held the position and those who surround the Office of the First Lady. We will do more.
On a personal note, as 2023 comes to a close, I want to thank our readers for their curiosity, their support and their enthusiasm for East Wing Magazine. I especially want to thank those with paid subscriptions, which funds our quality journalism on this subject matter that has long been underreported. Without your support we would cease to exist. If you haven’t upgraded to a paid subscription, I welcome you to join the rest of the community here. Thank you for supporting the stories that analyze these iconic women, and in turn, elevate women in history. And, ultimately, women.
Here are our readers’ choices for 2023:
These stories are ranked solely on the number of people who read each story.
Michelle Gullion sits in her office at the National First Ladies Library and Museum in Canton, Ohio, and embraces the controlled chaos around her. She points to one corner where a stack of books about former First Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush has taken root — including the 1990 bestselling children’s book “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush.” In the other corner, she gestures toward files she hasn’t gotten around to organizing yet. Read more
Presidential first ladies have leapt from the footnotes to the forefront of American history.
Solidifying that ascent, which has surged in recent years, is the nation’s first-ever college textbook focusing on the transformational legacies of the wives of America’s presidents. Co-authored by Diana B. Carlin, Anita B. McBride and Nancy Kegan Smith, U.S. First Ladies: Making History and Leaving Legacies is published by Cognella Academic Publishing and is now available to college level students and educators across the United States. Read more
At the beginning of the semester, it’s not unusual for Professor Stacy A. Cordery to scan the new batch of students and suspect there may be a few who show up thinking her Iowa State University history course on America’s first ladies is going to be an easy class. Read more
Described as an “activist” first lady and a “true partner” to her husband Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States, Rosalynn Carter changed the way future first ladies forever approached the position in the East Wing of the White House.
Rosalynn Carter, 96, died “peacefully” at her home Sunday in Plains, Georgia, surrounded by her family. It was announced on Friday that the former first lady entered hospice care and in May, she was diagnosed with dementia. Read more
I sat at my desk this midsummer evening and off in the distance the low rumbling of thunder registered as another storm rolled in off the central east coast of Florida. Barely into the writing process and I reached first for my printed version of The Associated Press Stylebook, a 2016 version, as I so often do. It’s always been at arm's reach since my first printed version of the stylebook around 1993. Even though I have the digital version open on a computer tab, out of curiosity I flipped to the physical copyright page and noticed when the first (modern) edition was published — August 1977. Read more
When Catherine Allgor first authored a book about former First Lady Dolley Madison, wife of the fourth president, James Madison (1809-1817), Allgor wanted to explore how women drove political power in the decades following America’s founding. While some might use the term “behind the scenes” to describe women’s relationship to power at the time, Allgor believes anytime politics is happening, it’s center stage. Read more
Tributes continue to pour in for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 96, who died Sunday in her home, six months after receiving a dementia diagnosis and two days after it was announced she was in hospice. America’s sitting and post-White House first ladies were among the first heartfelt condolences. Read more
In the last photograph of her life, Mary Todd Lincoln is not alone. She sits serenely with her hands folded over each other, most of her body hidden under a black cloak, as an apparition hovers above her. The “ghost” looks just as calm, his hands resting on her shoulders in an apparent gesture of comfort. Though the outline of the tall, bearded man behind her is faint, it’s unmistakably an image of president Abraham Lincoln, who had been assassinated seven years earlier as Mary sat by his side. Read more
2. Was Warren Harding's Death ‘Written in the Stars?’ 100 Years Later, a Look at the Prediction That Haunted a First Lady and Her Legacy
In 1920, a Washington, D.C. astrologer and clairvoyant named Madame Marcia Champney predicted that then-Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding would win the presidency, but die a “sudden, violent or peculiar death” before the end of his term. Champney spoke as she examined Harding’s astrological birth chart during a session with Harding’s wife Florence, who would become the first lady of the United States the next year after Champney’s prediction about Harding’s win came true. Unfortunately, so too would Champney’s prediction about Harding’s demise. Around 7 p.m. on Thursday Aug. 2, 1923, after a short illness during a tour of the western United States, the 57-year-old Harding died of a heart attack at a San Francisco hotel. Less than a half hour later and 3,000 miles away, Champney glanced at Warren Harding’s birth chart and the clock, and told a journalist, “The president is dead.” Read more
In early July 1989, Laurie Luongo had a chance encounter with then First Lady Barbara Bush, wife of George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. The experience took place one afternoon at the Westin Seattle, a hotel where Bush was staying and where Luongo had worked. At the time, Luongo recalls that Bush had been giving a talk on literacy not long after theBarbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy was established in March of 1989. It was a moment that made a lasting impression on Luongo and, ultimately, reshaped her perspective on the often unseen work of presidential first ladies. Luongo shares that story and its lasting impact with East Wing Magazine. Read more
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