The Role of the First Lady

Contributor: Sarah Lerdal. Lesson ID: 10989

If you're a U.S. citizen, you know about the president. Most presidents have been married men, whose wife is known as First Lady. We don't vote for them, but they're influential. Write to one today!


Civics, United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Do you know who these women are?

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If you know the second but not the first, here's a hint: these women share something in common.

  • Can you now guess who the first might be?

The women in the pictures are former First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama.

  • Have you ever written to the president or first lady?
  • Do you think they would answer?

Only one way to find out: give it a try!

  • If you were to write to the president or First Lady, what would you say to them?

Jot down some of the things you might address.

  • Do your reasons have to do with any environmental, health care, or education issues?
  • If they do, why might it make more sense to write to the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) and not to the President of the United States (POTUS)?

The answer lies in Eleanor Roosevelt.

Before 1933, the First Lady of the United States was often doing work behind the scenes. During the Great Depression, when Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, his wife Eleanor became an important public figure.

She set forth certain initiatives. One of her huge concerns included the welfare of children.

  1. In one minute, write down everything you already know about Eleanor Roosevelt.
  1. Then read this biography about Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • What did you learn about Mrs. Roosevelt that you did not know?

To better understand her position, watch this student-made video on the Great Depression and what life was like for the children who lived then.

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Eleanor Roosevelt was very conflicted by what she saw on the nation's streets, especially when it came to the young.

During her twelve years as first lady, she set many new precedents, one of which involved dealing directly with the public and press. Never before had the wife of the president reached a hand directly to the people as Mrs. Roosevelt did.

Next, in the Got It? section, you will look at the response from the people.

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