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Title Helen Louise "Nellie" Herron Taft
Collection First Lady Dolls
Catalog Number 2015.017.029
Description Helen Louise "Nellie" Herron Taft (1861-1943)
Wife of William Howard Taft - Served as First Lady from 1909-1913.

Helen was called "Nellie" from childhood on. The nickname served as a further distinction from her daughter Helen. She had a slight build, medium height, brown hair and brown eyes.
Nellie attended the Miss Nourse School in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1866 to 1879. After her education she found employment as a teacher at two local private schools.
During their courtship, Nellie Herron and Will Taft grew together by mutual interest and pursuit of intellectual and literary salons she hosted. Nellie Herron was determined not to marry merely for the traditional reason of starting a family, but also to find a partner who respected and encouraged her interests in current events and issues involving politics and economics.
Nellie and William Taft were married on June 19, 1886 at the Herron home in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was 25 years old.
She was always very involved in political elements of her husbands campaign and also when he became President and made immediate changes to the running of the White House, many of which were intended to be politically symbolic as well as practical.
The most obvious change was replacing all of the all-white male ushers at the White House with African-American ushers in uniform. In contrast to social codes, Nellie widened the chances for different people to attend White House events.
The great legacy of Nellie Taft's years as First Lady was the creation and development of what is now known as West Potomac Park. She brought to reality her vision of the area being surrounded with Japanese cherry blossom trees, which bloomed white and pink flowers every spring.
As First Lady, she still took an interest in politics but concentrated on giving the administration a particular social brilliance. Only two months after inauguration (May 17, 1909), she suffered a stroke. The stroke was not devastating, but Nellie did suffer from aphasia, and had to relearn how to speak. With a residual speech impediment, she became self-conscious in public and avoided situations which required lengthy remarks from her. When she was unable to serve as a public hostess, her daughter Helen Taft and her sisters, Jennie Anderson, Eleanor More and Maria Herron acted in her stead.
In 1921, eight years after he left the White House, William Howard Taft was nominated and confirmed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by the Hardy Administration. Taft developed a heart condition and later died in 1931.
Helen Louise Herron Taft died on May 22, 1943, 81 years old.
Event Bicentennial First Lady Doll Exhibit - Community Project
Creator Park, Phyllis Juhlin
Costume Costume by Freda Sainsbury Davis
Given Given by Edythe Bates Shimin
Source Uintah County Library