The Library of Congress > Wise Guide > September 2011 > FLOTUS in the House
FLOTUS in the House

While it’s not the White House, the Library has offered up its digs to the first family on more than one occasion and usually under one common cause – to promote literacy and learning. First Lady Michelle Obama has come several times under such auspices. As guest speaker for a national mentoring summit in January, she encouraged corporations to allow employees to participate in mentoring programs. She also mentioned that both she and the president have sponsored such programs.

Michelle Obama reads “Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr. Seuss, to area schoolchildren during the NEA “Read Across American Event. Photo by Abby Brack. 2011. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson (Ellen Axson), full-length portrait, seated, facing right, holding flowers. 1912. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-25806 DLC (b&w film copy neg. of detail); Call No.: Item in PRES FILE - Wilson, Woodrow--Mrs. Woodrow Wilson (Ellen Louise Axson)--Photographs--Full

“Studies have shown that young people with mentors are more likely to graduate from high school and set higher goals for themselves, and they’re less likely to skip school, use drugs, or fight,” she said.

Under the auspices of the National Education Association, Obama has been a spokeswoman for “Read Across America,” which hosts its annual event at the Library. The program is designed to highlight for children the importance of reading. The event is usually held on the birthday of Dr. Seuss. The first lady was at the Library for the event in both 2010 and 2011.

Michelle Obama’s predecessor, Laura Bush, was certainly no stranger to the Library and its hallowed halls. She hosted the very first National Book Festival in 2001, which took place at the Library’s very own Neptune Plaza, and continued to do so until she left the White House in 2009. She was also a featured author in both 2008 and 2010. In addition, she was named honorary chair of “The Big Read” in 2006, a national program hosted by the National Endowment for the Humanities that provides citizens with an opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. The Library hosted the event.

There are some first ladies, and presidents, who may not have been to the Library personally but live here in spirit. The Library has extensive resources for the study of the United States presidents and first ladies. Frequent requests for presidential portraits inspired the Prints and Photographs Division to compile a ready reference aid of formal and informal pictures in the division's custody. The selected images include at least one likeness of each of the first forty-two presidents and most of the first ladies.