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‘Unusual for Their Time:’ We take a closer look at the contributions of America’s first ladies

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WASHINGTON (Circa) – Throughout history, the first ladies of the United States have made unique and valuable contributions to the county.


Andy Och, also known as the “First Ladies Man,” is an award-winning television producer and author who is researching the lives and the fascinating - often untold - stories of the first ladies. His new book, “Unusual for Their Time: On the road with America’s First Ladies Volume Two,” starts with Edith Roosevelt and ends with Melania Trump.

During Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, the White House looked different from the way it does now; the first family didn’t have much space in which to live. They shared their living quarters with 30 office workers. Edith, Roosevelt’s wife, proposed the creation of the West Wing. However, the Oval Office was not added to that wing during its original construction.

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The famous cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., were a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo in 1912. They were meant to be a symbol of friendship between Japan and the United States but it was Helen “Nellie” Herron Taft who envisioned lining the Tidal Basin with the cherry trees to create a beautiful, picturesque spring landscape. She also helped plant the first two cherry trees around the Tidal Basin.

“These are arguably the most influential and powerful unelected women in the world,” Och said. “Their lives before, during and after the White House are fascinating, and their contributions and impact on our country and the modern world are almost immeasurable.”

To hear more interesting stories about the first ladies and their contributions to U.S. history and the modern era, check out our interview with Och.

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