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Ohio presidential symposium focuses on the impact of First Ladies

Slated for July 19-20, 2024, in Marion, Ohio, the annual Warren G. Harding Symposium reflects on the compelling influence of America's First Ladies throughout history. Their strength, grace, and leadership that continues to shape our nation's narrative.

The Ohio State University at Marion, the Harding Presidential Sites, and Ohio History Connection have partnered to present the 2024 Warren G. Harding Symposium, Taft, Wilson and Harding: First Ladies of Consequence.

This exciting event features respected scholars, authors, and historians including Harding Presidential Sites Manager, author and researcher, Sherry Hall; Dr. Rafaele Fierro, author of “Helen Herron Taft: Forgotten Impact of Memorable First Lady”; Rebecca Boggs Roberts, author of “Untold Power:  The Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Galt Wilson"; and Jonathan Andersen, Harding Presidential Sites historian and researcher. According to organizers this group of featured symposium workshop speakers will focus on a remarkable group of American First Ladies, each of whom faced difficult challenges and were able to leave an indelible mark on a fascinating era in the United States presidency.  

Helen Herron “Nellie” Taft was one of her husband’s most astute and trusted advisors and was influential in many presidential decisions. She also gave the Taft administration a particular social brilliance.  Ellen Wilson, the first wife of President Woodrow Wilson, played a major role in his career.  She significantly changed the traditional role of the First Lady through her efforts to improve housing conditions for African Americans in Washington, D.C.  Edith Galt Wilson was the president’s second wife.  When her husband suffered a severe stroke, she functionally ran the Executive Branch of the government for the remainder of his presidency.  Florence Harding was strong-willed and popular and had a major impact on her husband’s business and political careers.  As First Lady, she opened the White House and grounds to the public and advocated for the rights of women and veterans.

This annual event, which attracts visitors to Marion, Ohio from across the country and beyond, will explore impact of these notable women in the history and the impact the made on our country in the early 20th century. The symposium features a Friday evening opening reception at Warren G. Harding Presidential Library and Museum, the annual Presidential Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Harding Memorial, three workshop sessions with outstanding scholars with unique insights into the U.S. presidency and presidential politics, and a concluding dinner program and panel discussion with experts, as well as guided tours of the Harding Presidential Sites. 

A complete event schedule, pricing, and a link to registration for the symposium can be found at https://go.osu.edu/harding. Registration must be completed online and is open through Friday, July 12, 2024. Seating at the reception and dinner are limited, so patrons are encouraged to register early.  If you have questions, please contact Symposium Chairman, C. Gary Iams at 740-360-7166 or by email at mu6forall@aol.com or Ohio State Marion Development & Community Relations at 740-725-6340 or by email at  somerlot.30@osu.edu.