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Title Elizabeth "Bess" Virginia Wallace Truman
Collection First Lady Dolls
Catalog Number 2015.017.036
Description Elizabeth "Bess" Virginia Wallace Truman (1885-1982)
Wife of Harry S. Truman - served as First Lady from 1945-1953.

Bess Truman stood five feet, four inches tall; dark blonde hair that turned gray early in her married years, blue eyes. She had a stout appearance, but was in excellent health. After discovering she had high blood pressure, she regulated her life to reduce it.
Bess was described by the media as a plain, ordinary housewife from Independence, Missouri. She was 34 years old when she married Harry S. Truman on June 28, 1919. In every aspect of whatever professional or political position Harry Truman held, Bess worked as his partner in both unsalaried and salaried jobs.
When President Franklin Roosevelt died less than three months after the January 1945 Inauguration, Bess was overcome not only with grief, but fear of what her new role would entail. Eleanor Roosevelt promised that she would do everything she could to help Mrs. Truman with her sudden new position of First Lady.
Bess Truman never wanted to be the Vice President's wife, let alone the First Lady of the White House. There was nothing about being recognized by strangers or superficial adulation that she found flattering.
However, Bess Truman was a traditional hostess and charitable leader during her tenure as First Lady. She organized her day with regularity and order, and as First Lady she planned the most active social life the White House had seen in almost two decades. She revived the traditional winter and spring schedule of dinners and receptions honoring members of different branches of the government.
Bess was the Presidents confidante and adviser. Whenever they were apart, Harry Truman wrote detailed and affectionate letters to his wife. When they were both in residence in Washington, Bess spent about two hours every evening with the president, reviewing his speeches, schedule and policy decisions.
The First Lady was visibly thrilled when, in March 1952, her husband publicly announced that he was retiring from politics and would not seek or accept his party's nomination.
The press and the public were never permitted to have a genuine glimpse of the character and personality of Bess Truman as First Lade. She remained sedate in appearance and cryptic in her few remarks. Only later, as accounts from White House staff, friends and family began to appear in print did her generosity, sensitivity and wit emerge for the public.
When her husband's presidency ended on January 20, 1953, Bess Truman would begin nearly thirty years of life after the White House, twenty of them with her husband and the last ten without him.
Six years after leaving the White House, Bess became the first known of three women who had served as First Lady to have breast cancer and survive; undergoing a mastectomy; the 1959 surgery being conducted discreetly and not being reported to the general public.
Elizabeth "Bess" Virginia Wallace Truman died on October 18, 1982, at the age of 97. She lived longer than any other First Lady.
Event Bicentennial First Lady Doll Exhibit - Community Project
Creator Park, Phyllis Juhlin
Costume Costume by Gladys Price Phillips
Given Given by the P.E.O. Sisterhood
Source Uintah County Library