|First Lady of the United States|
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
|Preceded by||Betty Ford|
|Succeeded by||Nancy Reagan|
|First Lady of Georgia|
January 12, 1971 – January 14, 1975
|Preceded by||Hattie Virginia Cox|
|Succeeded by||Mary Elizabeth Talbot Busbee|
|Born||Eleanor Rosalynn Smith
August 18, 1927
Plains, Georgia, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Jimmy Carter (1946–present)|
|Relations||Edgar Smith and Frances Allethea Murray, parents|
|Children||John William, James Earl, Donnel Jeffery, and Amy|
Eleanor Rosalynn Carter (born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith; August 18, 1927) is the wife of the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter and in that capacity served as the First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981. She has for decades been a leading advocate for numerous causes, perhaps most prominently for mental health research. She was politically active during her White House years, sitting in on Cabinet and policy meetings as well as serving as her husband's closest adviser. She also served as an envoy abroad, most notably to Latin America.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Marriage and family
- 3 First Lady of Georgia
- 4 Campaigning
- 5 First Lady of the United States
- 6 The Carter Center
- 7 Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving
- 8 Advocacy for women and children and current activities
- 9 Books
- 10 Awards and honors
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born in Plains, Georgia, the eldest of the four children of Allethea "Allie" Murray Smith (1905–2000), a dressmaker, and Wilburn Edgar Smith (1896–1940), an automobile mechanic and farmer. Her brothers were William Jerrold "Jerry" Smith (May 5, 1929 – November 20, 2003), an engineer, and Murray Lee Smith (January 19, 1932 – January 26, 2003), a teacher and minister. Her sister, Lillian Allethea Wall, formerly Smith (born November 10, 1936), is a real estate broker.
Rosalynn's father died of leukemia when she was 13. Thereafter she helped her mother raise her younger siblings, as well as assist in the dressmaking business in order to meet the family's financial obligations. Rosalynn graduated as salutatorian of Plains High School before she attended Georgia Southwestern College.
Marriage and family
The couple had four children: John William "Jack" (born 1947), James Earl "Chip" III (born 1950), Donnel Jeffrey "Jeff" (born 1952), and Amy Lynn (born 1967). The first three were born in different parts of the country and away from Georgia, due to her husband's military duties.
In 1953, after her husband left the Navy, Rosalynn helped run the family peanut farm and warehouse business, handling accounting responsibilities. Since 1962, the year her husband Jimmy was elected to the Georgia State Senate, she has been active in the political arena.
First Lady of Georgia
After helping her husband win the governorship of Georgia in 1970, Rosalynn decided to focus her attention on the field of mental health as First Lady of Georgia. She was appointed to the Governor's Commission to Improve Services for the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped. Many of the Commission's recommendations were approved and became law. She also served as a volunteer at the Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and for four years was honorary chairperson for the Georgia Special Olympics.
In January 1975, when the gubernatorial term ended, Rosalynn, Jimmy and Amy Carter returned to Plains. Jimmy had already announced plans to run for President of the United States. Rosalynn returned to the campaign trail, this time on a national quest to gather support for her husband. She campaigned alone on his behalf in 41 states.
During the months when she was campaigning across the country, she was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Mental Health, honored by the National Organization for Women with an Award of Merit for her vigorous support for the Equal Rights Amendment, and received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Southwestern Association of Volunteer Services.
First Lady of the United States
In January 1977, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter walked hand-in-hand down Pennsylvania Avenue during his presidential inauguration parade. For the inaugural balls, she wore the same gown she had worn six years earlier at the balls in Atlanta when her husband became governor.
During her husband's administration, Rosalynn supported her husband's public policies as well as his social and personal life. In order to remain fully informed, she sat in on Cabinet meetings at the invitation of the President. She represented him in meetings with domestic and foreign leaders, most notably as an envoy to Latin America in 1977. Rosalynn also led a delegation to Thailand in 1979 to address the problems of Cambodian and Laotian refugees. Helping the refugees, particularly the children, became a special cause for her. When the cultural exchange program Friendship Force International launched at the White House on March 1, 1977, she became honorary chairperson, a position she held until 2002.
Rosalynn Carter served as an active honorary chair of the President's Commission on Mental Health. On behalf of the Mental Health System Bill, enacted in 1980, she testified before a Senate committee, the second First Lady to appear before the Congress (the first being Eleanor Roosevelt). In addition, Rosalynn was a strong proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment.
She oversaw her family at the White House. Her daughter, Amy, attracted much public attention. The two youngest sons, Chip and Jeff, and their families also lived in the White House. Other members of the family, including son Jack and his wife and children, were frequent visitors.
Rosalynn Carter's Secret Service codename was "Dancer".
The Carter Center
After leaving the White House in 1981, Rosalynn, like her husband, continued to lead a very active life. In 1982, she co-founded The Carter Center, a private, not-for-profit institution based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a member of the Center's Board of Trustees and participates in many of the Center's programs, but gives special attention to the Mental Health Program.
Mental health advocacy
Rosalynn Carter created and serves as the chair of The Carter Center Mental Health Task Force, an advisory board of experts, consumers, and advocates promoting positive change in the mental health field. She hosts the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, bringing together nationwide leaders in the mental health field.
In April 1984, she became an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and serves as a board member emeritus of the National Mental Health Association.
The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism provide stipends to journalists to report on topics related to mental health or mental illnesses. The one-year fellowship seeks to promote public awareness of mental health issues, as well as to erase the stigma associated with them.
In 2007, Rosalynn Carter joined with David Wellstone, son of the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, pushing Congress to pass legislation regarding mental health insurance. She and Wellstone are working to pass the "Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008" which would require equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses when policies include both types of coverage. And both testified before a House subcommittee regarding the bill in July 2007.
Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving
Rosalynn Carter is president of the board of directors for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) at Georgia Southwestern State University, her alma mater in Americus, Georgia. The RCI, which was established in 1987, aims to address issues related to caregiving in America and internationally. The institute focuses its work on both family and professional caregivers for individuals living with chronic illness and disabilities, limitations related to aging, and other health concerns across the lifespan. It plays a major role in moving science into practice for caregivers by supporting the implementation of evidence-based programs and interventions for caregivers in community settings.
Advocacy for women and children and current activities
In 1988, Rosalynn Carter convened with three other former first ladies—Betty Ford, Lady Bird Johnson, and Pat Nixon—at the "Women and the Constitution" conference at The Carter Center to assess that document's impact on women. The conference featured over 150 speakers and 1,500 attendees from all 50 states and 10 foreign countries.
She served on the Policy Advisory Board of The Atlanta Project (TAP) of The Carter Center, addressing social ills associated with poverty and quality of life citywide.
In 1991, she launched Every Child By Two, a nationwide campaign that sought to increase early childhood immunizations along with Betty Bumpers, wife of former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas. Rosalynn Carter serves as President of the organization and Bumpers as Vice President.
She also serves on the board of advisors for Habitat for Humanity and as an honorary chair of Project Interconnections, both of which aim to provide housing for those in need. Additionally, she is a deacon at her and her husband's Plains Baptist church.
Rosalynn Carter has written five books:
- First Lady from Plains (autobiography), 1984, ISBN 1-55728-355-9
- Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life (with Jimmy Carter), 1987, ISBN 1-55728-388-5
- Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers (with Susan K. Golant), 1994, ISBN 0-8129-2591-2
- Helping Someone with Mental Illness: A Compassionate Guide for Family, Friends, and Caregivers (with Susan K. Golant), 1998, ISBN 0-8129-2898-9
- Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis (with Susan K. Golant and Kathryn E. Cade), 2010, ISBN 978-1-59486-881-8
Awards and honors
On October 5, 2002, Rosalynn Carter was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. She became only the third First Lady ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt.
In 1999, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Among Rosalynn's many other awards for service are:
- Dorothea Dix Award, Mental Illness Foundation, 1988
- Georgia Woman of the Year Award, 1996
- Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, 1996
- United Nations Children's Fund International Child Survival Award, 1999
- Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health, Institute of Medicine, 2000
- United States Surgeon General's Medallion, 2000
- American Peace Award along with Jimmy Carter, 2009
Rosalynn Carter has received honorary degrees from the following institutions:
- H.H.D., Tift College, 1979
- L.H.D., Morehouse College, 1980
- D.P.S., Wesleyan College, 1986
- LL.D., University of Notre Dame, 1987
- D.Litt., Emory University, 1991
- L.H.D., Georgia Southwestern State University, 2001
- LL.D., Regis College, 2002
- Queen's University, 2012
Rosalynn served as distinguished centennial lecturer at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, from 1988 to 1992. She has been a Distinguished Fellow at the Emory University Department of Women's Studies in Atlanta since 1990.
- "Rosalynn Carter". nndb.com. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
- Rosalynn Carter, First Lady from Plains, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1984: pp. 74–111
- Rosalynn Carter, First Lady from Plains, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1984: p. 6, 148
- Rosalynn Carter, First Lady from Plains, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1984: pp. 143–300
- Walsh, Kenneth T. (2003). "Appendix". Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes. Hyperion. pp. 227. ISBN 1-4013-0004-9.
- Rosalynn Carter Biography, The Carter Center, http://www.cartercenter.org/news/experts/rosalynn_carter.html
- Columbia Journalism Review, Nov./Dec. 2007
- "Former first lady joins fight for mental health coverage". Associated Press. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
- "Bailout marks last push for mental health bill". 2 October 2008.
- Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. Rci.gsw.edu. Retrieved on 2012-04-26.
- Jimmy Carter Interviewed by Albert Mohler – Institute on Religion and Democracy – Institute on Religion & Democracy. IRD (2012-03-27). Retrieved on 2012-04-26.
- The American Peace Award. The American Peace Award. Retrieved on 2012-04-26.
- The Carter Center
- National First Ladies Library
- New Georgia Encyclopedia
- Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving
|First Lady of the United States
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|Order of precedence in the United States of America||Succeeded by
George H.W. Bush