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Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower - History

Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower - History

Mamie Doud married Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower when she was all of nineteen. Over the ensuing thirty-eight years, the couple lived in twenty-seven homes on army bases throughout the world. It was said that what made Mamie happiest about moving into the White House was that it came with a four-year lease. During her husband's illustrious military career, Mamie was content to be "looking after Ike," the only role she ever wanted. But, Mamie was also a political asset for Ike, radiating warmth and friendliness whenever she appeared with him. Although she said little in public, she helped generate the tremendous grass-roots support enjoyed by her husband.

As First Lady, Mamie took an active interest in planning state dinners both in terms of the menus and the decor. Her love of flowers manifested itself in beautiful arrangements and centerpieces. These were later sent to local hospitals at the express wishes of the First Lady. She continued the cataloging of the White House china collection, an effort which had fallen into some obscurity even before the renovations of the Truman era. Known for her "white-glove" inspection tours of the White House, Mamie was nevertheless considered "very jolly" by the staff. She loved expensive gowns, television (especially the soap operas) and the color pink: paint, carpets, and linens. The color became her trademark. Although she adopted no particular cause, she was well-known for answering every letter that was sent to her, even acknowledging the thousands of get-well cards sent during Ike's illnesses.

One of the few sorrows in the Eisenhowers' life, however, was the death of their three-year-old son Doud Dwight, from scarlet fever in 1921. Years later, Mamie recalled her suffering at the time of her son's death as the most terrible night of her life. Their second son John, born a year and a half later, helped console the grieving couple.

Mamie Eisenhower was named the most admired woman in the world in a 1969 Gallup Poll. Until her death in 1979, she remained loved and respected by the American public.


Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower - History


Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower's bangs and sparkling blue eyes were as much trademarks of an administration as the President's famous grin. Her outgoing manner, her feminine love of pretty clothes and jewelry, and her obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular First Lady.

Born in Boone, Iowa, Mamie Geneva Doud moved with her family to Colorado when she was seven. Her father retired from business, and Mamie and her three sisters grew up in a large house in Denver. During winters the family made long visits to relatives in the milder climate of San Antonio, Texas.

There, in 1915, at Fort Sam Houston, Mamie met Dwight D. Eisenhower, a young second lieutenant on his first tour of duty. She drew his attention instantly, he recalled: "a vivacious and attractive girl, smaller than average, saucy in the look about her face and in her whole attitude." On St. Valentine's Day in 1916 he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement they were married at the Doud home in Denver on July 1.

For years Mamie Eisenhower's life followed the pattern of other Army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone duty in France, in the Philippines. She once estimated that in 37 years she had unpacked her household at least 27 times. Each move meant another step in the career ladder for her husband, with increasing responsibilities for her.

The first son Doud Dwight or "Icky," who was born in 1917, died of scarlet fever in 1921. A second child, John, was born in 1922 in Denver. Like his father he had a career in the army later he became an author and served as ambassador to Belgium.

During World War II, while promotion and fame came to "Ike," his wife lived in Washington. After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces--and hers as his hostess at a chateau near Paris--delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955. They celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House.

When Eisenhower had campaigned for President, his wife cheerfully shared his travels when he was inaugurated in 1953, the American people warmly welcomed her as First Lady. Diplomacy--and air travel--in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments, and Mamie's evident enjoyment of her role endeared her to her guests and to the public.

In 1961 the Eisenhowers returned to Gettysburg for eight years of contented retirement together. After her husband's death in 1969, Mamie continued to live on the farm, devoting more of her time to her family and friends. Mamie Eisenhower died on November 1, 1979. She is buried beside her husband in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.


Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower

Married at the age of 19, Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower was the wife of the 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and a very popular First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

Mamie Eisenhower’s bangs and sparkling blue eyes were as much trademarks of an administration as the President’s famous grin. Her outgoing manner, her feminine love of pretty clothes and jewelry, and her obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular First Lady.

Born in Boone, Iowa, Mamie Geneva Doud moved with her family to Colorado when she was seven. Her father retired from business, and Mamie and her three sisters grew up in a large house in Denver. During winters the family made long visits to relatives in the milder climate of San Antonio, Texas.

There, in 1915, at Fort Sam Houston, Mamie met Dwight D. Eisenhower, a young second lieutenant on his first tour of duty. She drew his attention instantly, he recalled: “a vivacious and attractive girl, smaller than average, saucy in the look about her face and in her whole attitude.” On St. Valentine’s Day in 1916 he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement they were married at the Doud home in Denver on July 1.

For years Mamie Eisenhower’s life followed the pattern of other Army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone duty in France, in the Philippines. She once estimated that in 37 years she had unpacked her household at least 27 times. Each move meant another step in the career ladder for her husband, with increasing responsibilities for her.

The first son Doud Dwight or “Icky,” who was born in 1917, died of scarlet fever in 1921. A second child, John, was born in 1922 in Denver. Like his father he had a career in the army later he became an author and served as ambassador to Belgium.

During World War II, while promotion and fame came to “Ike,” his wife lived in Washington. After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces–and hers as his hostess at a chateau near Paris–delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955. They celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House.

When Eisenhower had campaigned for President, his wife cheerfully shared his travels when he was inaugurated in 1953, the American people warmly welcomed her as First Lady. Diplomacy–and air travel–in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments, and Mamie’s evident enjoyment of her role endeared her to her guests and to the public.

In 1961 the Eisenhowers returned to Gettysburg for eight years of contented retirement together. After her husband’s death in 1969, Mamie continued to live on the farm, devoting more of her time to her family and friends. Mamie Eisenhower died on November 1, 1979. She is buried beside her husband in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.

The biographies of the First Ladies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The First Ladies of the United States of America,” by Allida Black. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.

Learn more about Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower’s spouse, Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Family tree of Mamie EISENHOWER

Born in Boone, Iowa and named, in part, after the popular song Lovely Lake Geneva, Mamie Geneva Doud was the second child born to John Sheldon Doud, a meatpacking executive, and his wife, the former Elivera Mathilde Carlson. She grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Denver, Colorado, and the Doud winter home in San Antonio, Texas. Her father, who retired at age 36, ran a meatpacking company founded by his father, Doud & Montgomery ("Buyers of Live Hogs"), and had investments in Illinois and Iowa stockyards. Her mother was a daughter of Swedish immigrants. She had three sisters: Eleanor Carlson Doud, Eda Mae Doud, and Mabel Frances "Mike" Doud.

It was soon after completing her education at Miss Wolcott's finishing school that she met Dwight Eisenhower at San Antonio in October 1915. Introduced by Mrs. Lulu Harris, wife of a fellow officer at Fort Sam Houston, the two hit it off at once, as Eisenhower, officer of the day, invited Miss Doud to accompany him on his rounds. On St. Valentine's Day in 1916 he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement.


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Geographical origins

The map below shows the places where the ancestors of the famous person lived.


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About Mamie Eisenhower, First Lady of the United States

Mamie Geneva Doud-Eisenhower (November 14, 1896 – November 1, 1979) was the wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

Birthplace of First Lady Mamie Doud Eisenhower, 709 (formerly 718) Carroll Street, Boone, IowaBorn in Boone, Iowa, the daughter of John Sheldon Doud, a prosperous meat packer, and Elivera Mathilda Carlson-Doud, Mamie grew up in relative comfort in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Denver, Colorado, and the Doud winter home in San Antonio, Texas. Her father retired at age 36 after making a fortune in the meatpacking industry. She and her three sisters grew up in large homes with several servants.[citation needed]

Marriage and family

It was soon after completing her education at Miss Wolcott's finishing school that she met Dwight Eisenhower at San Antonio in October 1915. Introduced by Mrs. Lulu Harris, wife of a fellow officer at Fort Sam Houston, the two hit it off at once, as Eisenhower, officer of the day, invited Miss Doud to accompany him on his rounds. On St. Valentine's Day in 1916 he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement.

The Doud House at 750 Lafayette Street in Denver, Colorado.Lieutenant Dwight D. Eisenhower, aged 25, married Mamie Doud, aged 19, on July 1, 1916, at the home of the bride's parents in Denver, Colorado. Following the wedding, performed by Reverend Williamson of the Central Presbyterian Church in Denver, the newlyweds honeymooned a couple days at Eldorado Springs, Colorado a resort near Denver, and then visited the groom's parents in Abilene before settling into the lieutenant's crude living quarters at Fort Sam Houston.

The Eisenhowers had two children (only one lived to maturity):

Doud "Icky" Dwight Eisenhower (September 24, 1917 – January 2, 1921) died of scarlet fever.

John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower (born August 3, 1922) – soldier, diplomat, author. Born in Denver, CO, he graduated from West Point in 1944 and earned a master's degree in English literature from Columbia University in 1950. After retiring from a prosperous military career (1944�), he was appointed ambassador to Belgium (1969�) by Richard Nixon. He has written an account of the Battle of the Bulge, The Bitter Woods (1969), Strictly Personal (1974), and Allies: Pearl Harbor to D-Day (1982).

For years, Mamie Eisenhower's life followed the pattern of other Army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone duty in France, in the Philippines. Although accustomed to more creature comforts than those afforded at military posts, Mamie adjusted readily and joined her husband in moving 28 times before their retirement at the end of his term as president.[citation needed]

Mamie Eisenhower, with her husband, Dwight, on the steps of St. Mary's College, San Antonio, Texas, in 1916During the Second World War, while promotion and fame came to "Ike," his wife lived in Washington, D.C. After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm (now the Eisenhower National Historic Site) at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces𠅊nd hers as his hostess at a villa near Paris�layed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955.[1]

First Lady of the United States

Mamie Eisenhower in her inaugural gown, painted in 1953 by Thomas StevensThey celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House. Diplomacy𠅊nd air travel—in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments. As First Lady, her outgoing manner, her feminine love of pretty clothes, some of them designed by Scaasi,[2] jewelry, and her obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular First Lady. The gown she wore to her husband's inauguration is one of the most popular in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's collection of inaugural gowns.[3]

As First Lady, she was a gracious hostess but carefully guarded her privacy. A victim of Meniere's disease, an inner-ear disorder that affects equilibrium, Mrs. Eisenhower was uneasy on her feet, a spectacle that fed baseless rumors that she had a drinking problem.[4]

Mrs. Eisenhower was known as a penny pincher who clipped coupons for the White House staff. Her recipe for "Mamie's million dollar fudge" was reproduced by housewives all over the country after it was printed in many publications.[5]

As described in multiple biographies, including Upstairs at the White House by J. B. West, Mrs. Eisenhower was reportedly unhappy with the idea of John F. Kennedy coming into office following her husband's term. Despite new First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy having given birth to her son John Jr. via caesarean section two weeks prior, Mamie refused to inform Jackie that there was a wheelchair available for her to use while showing Mrs. Kennedy the various sections of the White House. Seeing Mamie's displeasure during the tour, Jackie kept her composure while in Mrs. Eisenhower's presence, finally collapsing in private once the new First Lady returned home. When Mamie Eisenhower was later questioned as to why she would do such a thing, the former First Lady simply stated, "Because she never asked."[citation needed]

Mamie Eisenhower Portrait, 04/27/1971In 1961 Mrs. Eisenhower retired with the former president to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, their first permanent home. After her husband's death in 1969, she continued to live full time on the farm until she took an apartment in Washington, D.C. in the late 1970s.[6] She suffered a stroke on September 25, 1979 and was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital, where Ike had died a decade before. Mamie didn't leave the hospital and on October 31, announced to her granddaughter, Mary, that she would die the next day. Indeed, she died quietly in her sleep very early the morning of November 1,[7] just a few weeks shy of her 83rd birthday. She was buried next to the president and her first son at Place of Meditation on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas. In 1980 her birthplace in Boone, Iowa was dedicated as a historic site Abigail Adams is the only other First Lady to be so honored.

Because of her connection with the city of Denver and the area surrounding, a park in southeast Denver was given Mamie's name, as well as a public library in Broomfield, a suburb of Denver.

Hollywood starlet Joan Olander signed her contract with Universal Studios the day Eisenhower was inaugurated, and the studio gave her the name Mamie Van Doren, after the new first lady.[8]

Born: 14 Oct 1890 in Denison, Grayson, Texas, USA

Died: 28 Mar 1969 in Washington, [county], District Of Columbia, USA

Marriage: 1 Jul 1916 in Denver, [county], Colorado, USA View Info

Doud Dwight Eisenhower M 24 Sep 1917 in Denver, [county], Colorado, USA

John Sheldon Eisenhower M 3 Aug 1922 in Denver, [county], Colorado, USA

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower's bangs and sparkling blue eyes were as much trademarks of an administration as the president's famous grin. Her outgoing manner, love of pretty clothes and jewelry, and obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular first lady.

Born in 1896 in Boone, Iowa, Mamie Geneva Doud moved with her family to Denver Colorado when she was seven. During winters the family made long visits to relatives in the milder climate of San Antonio, Texas. There, in 1915, Mamie met Dwight D. Eisenhower, a young second lieutenant. On Valentine's Day in 1916 he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement they were married at the Doud home in Denver on July 1.

Mamie's new life followed the pattern of other army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, the Panama Canal Zone, France, and the Philippines. She once estimated that in 37 Years she had unpacked her household at least 27 times. Each move meant another step up the career ladder for her husband, with increasing responsibilities for her. Their first son Doud Dwight or "Icky," born in 1917, died of scarlet fever in 1921. A second, John, was born in 1922 in Denver. Like his father he had a career in the army. Later he became an author and served as ambassador to Belgium.

During World War II, while fame came to "Ike," Mamie lived in Washington. In 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. When her husband campaigned for president, Mamie cheerfully shared his travels. When he was inaugurated in 1953, the American people warmly welcomed her as first lady. Diplomacy - and air travel - in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments, and Mamie's evident enjoyment of her role endeared her to her guests and to the public.

When their Gettysburg dream home was finally completed in 1955, the Eisenhowers celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the White House staff. In 1961, they retired there for eight contented years together. After her husband's death in 1969, Mamie continued to live on the farm, devoting more of her time to her family and friends. Mamie Eisenhower died on November 1, 1979. She is buried beside her husband in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas. Find a Grave

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was John Hibbard's 2nd Cousin 6 times removed


Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower - History

Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower's bangs and sparkling blue eyes were as much trademarks of an administration as the President's famous grin. Her outgoing manner, her feminine love of pretty clothes and jewelry, and her obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular First Lady.

Born in Boone, Iowa, Mamie Geneva Doud moved with her family to Colorado when she was seven. Her father retired from business, and Mamie and her three sisters grew up in a large house in Denver. During winters the family made long visits to relatives in the milder climate of San Antonio, Texas.

For years Mamie Eisenhower's life followed the pattern of other Army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone duty in France, in the Philippines. She once estimated that in 37 years she had unpacked her household at least 27 times. Each move meant another step in the career ladder for her husband, with increasing responsibilities for her.

The first son Doud Dwight or "Icky," who was born in 1917, died of scarlet fever in 1921. A second child, John, was born in 1922 in Denver. Like his father he had a career in the army later he became an author and served as ambassador to Belgium.

During World War II, while promotion and fame came to "Ike," his wife lived in Washington. After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces--and hers as his hostess at a chateau near Paris--delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955. They celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House.

When Eisenhower had campaigned for President, his wife cheerfully shared his travels when he was inaugurated in 1953, the American people warmly welcomed her as First Lady. Diplomacy--and air travel--in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments, and Mamie's evident enjoyment of her role endeared her to her guests and to the public.

In 1961 the Eisenhowers returned to Gettysburg for eight years of contented retirement together. After her husband's death in 1969, Mamie continued to live on the farm, devoting more of her time to her family and friends. Mamie Eisenhower died on November 1, 1979. She is buried beside her husband in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.


Life in the White House

After Dwight won the presidency and took office in 1953, Mamie spent a great deal of her time on domestic matters in the White House. By this time she was used to overseeing a staff, and it was her job to see that the executive mansion was run efficiently. She also supported charitable causes and showed her respect for the history of the White House by leading a drive to find and recover genuine presidential antiques. She and her husband agreed to a division of labor during his two terms ("Ike took care of the office—I ran the house").


Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower’s bangs and sparkling blue eyes were as much trademarks of an administration as the President’s famous grin. Her outgoing manner, her feminine love of pretty clothes and jewelry, and her obvious pride in husband and home made her a very popular First Lady.

Born in Boone, Iowa, Mamie Geneva Doud moved with her family to Colorado when she was seven. Her father retired from business, and Mamie and her three sisters grew up in a large house in Denver. During winters the family made long visits to relatives in the milder climate of San Antonio, Texas.

There, in 1915, at Fort Sam Houston, Mamie met Dwight D. Eisenhower, a young second lieutenant on his first tour of duty. She drew his attention instantly, he recalled: “a vivacious and attractive girl, smaller than average, saucy in the look about her face and in her whole attitude.” On St. Valentine’s Day in 1916 he gave her a miniature of his West Point class ring to seal a formal engagement they were married at the Doud home in Denver on July 1.

For years Mamie Eisenhower’s life followed the pattern of other Army wives: a succession of posts in the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone duty in France, in the Philippines. She once estimated that in 37 years she had unpacked her household at least 27 times. Each move meant another step in the career ladder for her husband, with increasing responsibilities for her.

The first son Doud Dwight or “Icky,” who was born in 1917, died of scarlet fever in 1921. A second child, John, was born in 1922 in Denver. Like his father he had a career in the army later he became an author and served as ambassador to Belgium.

During World War II, while promotion and fame came to “Ike,” his wife lived in Washington. After he became president of Columbia University in 1948, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first home they had ever owned. His duties as commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces–and hers as his hostess at a chateau near Paris–delayed work on their dream home, finally completed in 1955. They celebrated with a housewarming picnic for the staff from their last temporary quarters: the White House.

When Eisenhower had campaigned for President, his wife cheerfully shared his travels when he was inaugurated in 1953, the American people warmly welcomed her as First Lady. Diplomacy–and air travel–in the postwar world brought changes in their official hospitality. The Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented number of heads of state and leaders of foreign governments, and Mamie’s evident enjoyment of her role endeared her to her guests and to the public.

In 1961 the Eisenhowers returned to Gettysburg for eight years of contented retirement together. After her husband’s death in 1969, Mamie continued to live on the farm, devoting more of her time to her family and friends. Mamie Eisenhower died on November 1, 1979. She is buried beside her husband in a small chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.

The biographies of the First Ladies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The First Ladies of the United States of America,” by Allida Black. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.

Learn more about Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower’s spouse, Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Hall Of Presidents & First Ladies – Profile: Mamie Geneva Eisenhower (Doud)

If you’ve ever visited our Hall of Presidents and First Ladies you’ve seen the Gettysburg area’s only complete wax collection of American Presidents and First Ladies. You’re likely more familiar with the great Presidents in these halls, but the strong women in the Hall of First Ladies were just as vital to the heritage and prosperity of this nation. We thought we would pay homage to these women in a new series here at Gettysburg Tour Center that highlights the First Ladies featured in our amazing display.

The first woman in our series is the great Mamie Eisenhower, wife of President Dwight Eisenhower, and one of the area’s favorites since she spent her retirement at the home now known as the Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Mamie Geneva Doud was born in Boone, Iowa into a privileged situation as her father made a fortune in the meat packing industry. Her father was able to retire early due to this fortune, and moved his family several times, eventually settling in Denver, Colorado. Due to the cold winters Mamie’s mother insisted on a home in San Antonio, Texas to escape the severe winters. It was here she met Dwight, and at the age of 19 married a military man whom she would follow around to his numerous career assignments.

Mamie certainly made a name for herself as a first lady as well building a legacy of her own during her tenure at Pennsylvania Avenue. Some of the magnificent achievements she accomplished during her run up to and time as First Lady include:

  • Being the first First Lady to appear in a televised presidential campaign ad
  • Rallied women to vote in the presidential election, and even had “I Like Mamie Too” buttons created, similar to Dwight’s “I Like Ike” buttons
  • Due to her outgoing personality, the Eisenhowers entertained an unprecedented amount of state heads and foreign government leaders
  • Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge was a family favorite recipe that she eventually submitted to be printed in newspapers and magazines, in turn reaching many a 1950’s dinner table
  • She was actively involved in the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement, accepting an honorary membership into the National Council of Negro Women, and included the 4-H Club Camp for Negro Boys and Girls in the special White House tours offering
  • Following Dwight’s heart attack in 1955 she took charge of the administrative work flow while he recovered, reviewing visitors and meeting requests, and managed President Eisenhower’s recovery and strict diet. She played a similar role several times throughout his presidency

Mamie carved out her own unique role in history and the list of her accomplishments is quite extensive in her own regard. Along with Dwight the Eisenhowers retired to Gettysburg at what is now known as the Eisenhower National Historic Site. Be sure to check out the Hall of Presidents and First Ladies, as well as the Eisenhower National Historic Site on your next visit to Gettysburg. We highly recommend a Christmas visit as well, as the home and farm is decorated just as Mamie had when they lived there. It is quite the sight to see!


Mamie Eisenhower: Charming America As First Lady

Mamie Eisenhower’s experiences as a military officer’s wife had taught her important lessons which she implemented during her time as First Lady. With extraordinary creativity, commitment to her husband, and genuine love of “pretty, feminine” things, Mamie Eisenhower was “liked” (almost as much as Ike) and charmed America in the 1950’s.

Born on November 4, 1896, Mamie Geneva Doud grew up with three sisters in a loving family. Her father was a successful businessman, and, when Mamie was eight, the family moved to Denver, Colorado. Mamie spent her childhood and youth in Denver and San Antonio she attended a girls’ finishing school and didn’t learn many housekeeping skills.

With her family’s position in society, Mamie expected to attend fabulous parties and live in comfortable ease. She anticipated her debut in 1915 when she would officially start her role in Denver society. However, her plans suddenly changed when a family visit took her to a military base. At Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, Mamie met West Point graduate Dwight Eisenhower. He invited her to go walking with him and later claimed he fell in love when she disobeyed his orders.

When she returned to Denver, Mamie and Dwight corresponded. The following year, Dwight asked to marry Mamie. When she responded, she had made a decision which would change her plans for an easy society life to the challenging role of military wife.

Mrs. Eisenhower

Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower married on July 1, 1916 – the day he promoted to First Lieutenant (and got a pay-raise). Their move to Fort Sam Houston marked the beginning of their travels for the U.S. Army. Mamie Eisenhower would spend 45 years of her life in or supporting her husband’s public service for her that meant setting up housekeeping in 37 different homes!

In the beginning, Mamie struggled to settle into her new role. She missed her parents and sisters, and learning to run a house, cook, and clean for the first time proved challenging. She capably budgeted, avoided debt, and excelled at hosting gatherings for other military couples – all skills which allowed Dwight’s influence and reputation to grow.

The Eisenhowers had two sons: Doud Dwight (nicknamed “Icky”) and John Sheldon. Sadly, “Icky” died before his fifth birthday. Mamie struggled with health challenges throughout her life and battled depression after her son’s death.

Mamie traveled international with her husband. She lived on military bases in Panama and the Philippines, continue her role as wife, mom, and friend.

During World War II, Mamie lived in a small apartment in Washington D.C. while Dwight served as Allied commander in Europe. Rumors plagued the couple, but they kept their relationship strong through correspondence. Mamie disliked the press and carefully avoided any actions which could lead to bad impressions for herself, for her husband, and other military wives. By the end of the conflict in 1945, Dwight Eisenhower was famous he continued military service, then served briefly as president of Columbia University.

When Dwight considered running for president in 1952 on the Republican ticket, Mamie supported his decision, but dreaded the “hoopla” that they would endure from the press. She actively campaigned for her husband, touring the country with him and winning votes for her candidate through her good-natured charm and fun. When the election results were in, Ike and Mamie were “liked” and had won.

Mrs. Eisenhower’s official portrait (notice the pink dress she worn this gown to the inaugural balls.)

First Lady @ The White House

Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower set a new precedent: just seconds after taking the oath of office, the president kissed the first lady. They also created a new tradition when the president and first lady rode together in the inaugural parade (previously, the president and vice president had traveled down Pennsylvania Avenue together.)

As Mamie settled into the White House, she decided to redecorate first family’s living quarters. She chose a pink and green color scheme, famously filling her own bedroom with pink pillows, sheets, curtains, bathrobes, etc. etc. From her pink room, Mamie Eisenhower ran the White House like a military base. She was used to structure and instructed her staff to meet standards of perfection.

In her style, Mamie Eisenhower epitomized the fun of the 1950’s. Her clothing was flattering and feminine (often pink – her favorite color!). She worked to create a true-to-life-image for her role as first lady: she was just like other American homemakers.

Throughout her life, Mamie had understood and maintained “spheres of influence.” She managed the house and social obligations, leaving Dwight free to excel in the military or political arena. In fact, she visited the Oval Office less than ten times during her eight years in the White House she made a point of entering “the man’s world” only when invited. She didn’t want publicity and usually worked behind the scenes, answering correspondence and making social gatherings and entertainments at the Executive Mansion an art form. Mamie quietly worked in support of the Civil Rights Movement and supported five charity events every week.

After eight years in the White House, Mamie Eisenhower finally got to “settle down” and she built her “dream house” in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (You can visit the Eisenhower National Historic Site today and see her home!) Dwight passed away in 1969. Mamie spent the next ten years with family, friends, and keeping up with American politics. She passed away in 1979.

Mrs. Eisenhower’s Legacy

Mamie Eisenhower wasn’t afraid to define how she would be First Lady. Her life experiences shaped how she handled her role. She knew what she wanted, loved traditionalism, had years of experience in entertaining, and was never afraid to “be herself.”

That very idea of never changing and being true to who and what she loved endeared Mamie to Americans. She may not have had the incredibly far-reaching influence of other First Ladies, but she left important lessons for all Americans: be kind, be charming, be dedicated, be yourself.