Throughout the 20th and 21st century, the Daughters of Charity have had the opportunity to work with not only the Presidents of the United States, but with the individuals who have held the title of First Lady of the United States. These ladies’ friendship, duty of service, and collaboration are well-documented here in the Provincial Archives!
First Lady Mamie Eisenhower and husband Ike had a cordial and neighborly relationship with St. Joseph College and Provincial House. The Daughters were located only a short trip away from the Eisenhower’s Gettysburg farm, where the couple would retire to at the end of Ike’s Presidency. The President and First Lady would often visit the College at Emmitsburg when they drove the trip from Washington to Gettysburg.
On July 1, 1958, during Mother Lepicard’s visit to the United States, she; Sister Isabel Toohey, the Visitatrix; Sister Eleanor McNabb, president of Providence Hospital; and Sister Margaret Flinton, a French professor at St. Joseph College visited the White House and presented the First Couple with an anniversary gift.
On March 14, 1959, St. Joseph College awarded Mamie Eisenhower an honorary doctorate.
Jackie Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic First Lady. Her husband’s last rites were administered by Father Oscar Huber, C.M., the pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Dallas, Texas. The Daughters taught at the parish school and collected the students’ condolences to give to the First Lady. She responded with a kind note of thanks.
“Lady Bird” Johnson
The Daughters’ relationship with the Johnson family began in the Johnson’s native Central Texas. When the First Couple’s first grandchild was born, she was delivered at Seton Medical Center in Austin, a hospital run by the Daughters.
As the Daughters rallied around President Johnson’s War on Poverty, they also remained close with the First Family. After President Lyndon passed away in 1973, only a few years after leaving office, Lady Bird was on hand to unveil a memorial plaque at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama as part of the 75th anniversary of the hospital. Gracious as always, the former First Lady penned a personal thank-you note after the gala weekend!
On July 6, 1978, President and First Lady Carter visited the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg. Only three years after Mother Seton’s canonization, this was the first (and, to date, only) time a sitting President visited the Shrine of the first American saint. Sister Mary Clare Hughes, the Visitatrix at the time, called the First Family a picture of true simplicity, and the experience as “a lesson for me in true simplicity.”
With its location on the outskirts of Washington, St. Ann’s Center for Children had long had diplomatic and political relationships with the global officials of the domestic and foreign realms. First Lady Nancy Reagan seems to have been the most frequent visitor, with three separate visits in 1981, 1985, and 1986.
Prior to becoming First Lady in 1989, Second Lady Barbara Bush and her husband, George Bush, Sr., raised money for Morehouse School of Medicine in support of historically Black colleges and universities. Several prominent doctors at Providence Hospital, which the Daughters had operated in Washington, D.C. since the Civil War, were advocates and graduates of Morehouse School of Medicine.
During her time as Senator from New York, former First Lady Hillary Clinton took the time to visit charitable institutions throughout the state, such as Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton in 2001.
When she was First Lady, she, like some of her predecessors, had a relationship with St. Ann’s Center for Children and visited at Christmastime, 1995 (along with Socks the First Cat).
As a part of a campaign to combat heart disease, and in celebration of the work in the cardiovascular field, First Lady Laura Bush stopped by St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville.
Dr. Jill Biden
On her pathway to earning a doctorate in education, Jill Jacobs – the future Dr. Jill Biden – spent a year teaching alongside the Daughters of Charity, as well as several other religious communities, as member of the English department at St. Mark’s School in Wilmington, DE for the 1976-77 school year.