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Title Lucretia Rudolph Garfield
Collection First Lady Dolls
Catalog Number 2015.017.022
Description Lucretia Rudolph Garfield (1832-1918)
Wife of James A. Garfield - First Lady from March 4 - September 9, 1881

Upon her graduation in 1855 from Hiram Eclectic Institute, Lucretia pursued a career as a teacher of French, algebra and Latin at the Eclectic Institute. James Garfield had been her Greek teacher, but was attending Williams College in Massachusetts. They corresponded for a while but had not committed to marriage, yet. Garfield appreciated the depth of intellect possessed by "Crete" as she was called. They had an understanding of marriage and in the summer of 1858, Garfield proposed marriage (a second time) and she accepted. Facetiously, she sent him an invitation to his own wedding.
Lucretia Rudolph, age 26, married James Abram Garfield on November 11, 1858, in Hiram, Ohio. She often expressed her frustrations at the expectations of being a wife and mother, yet believed that it was ultimately a situation that could be enjoyed by adjusting one's attitude.
Lucretia Garfield was one of the first presidential candidate's wives to appear on a campaign poster. She was 48 years old when she became a 'First Lady'. Initially uncomfortable with the public scrutiny that came with being First Lady, Lucretia Garfield soon proved to be decisive regarding the many aspects of the traditional role that she faced.
Mrs. Garfield decided against supporting "dress reform" for women that called for less constricting clothing, considering it a potential step in the breakdown of the traditional family.
Her active public role came to a sudden halt in early May of 1881 when she contracted malaria and nearly died in the White House. The President recorded that he found himself unable to conduct the affairs of government so distracted was he at the mere thought of her demise.
Once she began to recover, Lucretia was sent to the New Jersey seaside where it was thought that the salt air would be conducive to her recovery. Escorted to the Washington train station by the President, she appeared so weak and thin that Charles Guiteau (Garfield's assassin) could not bring himself to shoot Garfield, as he intended, wishing to spare the First Lady the anguish of witnessing his possible assassination.
Guiteau did shoot Garfield on July 2, 1881. Lucretia rushed back to Washington to nurse him and take charge of the White House, showing a remarkable calm and courage that won her widespread admiration. James A. Garfield died September 19, 1881 with his wife, Lucretia and daughter, Mollie, at his side.
Lucretia moved to Pasadena, California in 1901 because the winters were not as harsh. She died on March 14, 1918 at the age of 85 years old, in Pasadena. She is buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.
Height (in) 18
Event Bicentennial First Lady Doll Exhibit - Community Project
Creator Park, Phyllis Juhlin
Costume Costume by Treveline Harber Hall
Given Given by the Beaux Arts Club
Source Uintah County Library