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Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge - History

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge - History


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Grace Coolidge came to the White House as First Lady following the death of Warren Harding. Although she was reportedly timid about assuming the responsibilities of a presidential wife, Grace Coolidge became a celebrated hostess. Known as a "champion smiler" she was the family conversationalist (a not unimportant quality considering the reputation of her husband, "silent Cal.") Grace was also a great baseball fan, a fact which further endeared her to the public. Known as a sensitive and kind woman who loved children, Grace had spent many years as a teacher of the handicapped. It was while she was working at the Clarke Institute for the Deaf that she met the taciturn Calvin Coolidge. Her warmth and outgoing nature proved a boon to Coolidge on the campaign trail since she loved meeting people.

Once in the White House, Grace believed that the First Lady had an obligation to work on social issues of the day. Education for the deaf was a major concern, along with child welfare. When the Coolidges' son, sixteen-year-old Calvin, Jr., died suddenly in 1924, the nation grieved along with the beloved First Lady.

In 1928, the President announced that he would not seek another term. Grace was as taken by surprise by the news as the rest of the nation. Calvin Coolidge died only four years after leaving the White House, but Grace lived till the age of seventy eight. She continued her interest in education for the deaf. She also supported the Girl Scouts, the Campfire Girls, the Association for the Aid of Crippled Children, and Christmas Seals. During the Second World War, the former First Lady was active in the Red Cross and other relief agencies. She is remembered as a true humanitarian whom Helen Keller called "responsive to every human need."



Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge served as First Lady of as the wife of the 30th President, Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929). An exceptionally popular White House hostess, she was voted one of America’s 12 greatest living women in 1931.

For her “fine personal influence exerted as First Lady of the Land,” Grace Coolidge received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences. In 1931 she was voted one of America’s twelve greatest living women.

She had grown up in the Green Mountain city of Burlington, Vermont, only child of Andrew and Lemira B. Goodhue, born in 1879. While still a girl she heard of a school for deaf children in Northampton, Massachusetts, and eventually decided to share its challenging work. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902 and went to teach at the Clarke School for the Deaf that autumn.

In Northampton she met Calvin Coolidge they belonged to the same boating, picnicking, whist-club set, composed largely of members of the local Congregational Church. In October 1905 they were married at her parents’ home. They lived modestly they moved into half of a duplex two weeks before their first son was born, and she budgeted expenses well within the income of a struggling small-town lawyer.

To Grace Coolidge may be credited a full share in her husband’s rise in politics. She worked hard, kept up appearances, took her part in town activities, attended her church, and offset his shyness with a gay friendliness. She bore a second son in 1908, and it was she who played backyard baseball with the boys. As Coolidge was rising to the rank of governor, the family kept the duplex he rented a dollar-and-a-half room in Boston and came home on weekends.

In 1921, as wife of the Vice President, Grace Coolidge went from her housewife’s routine into Washington society and quickly became the most popular woman in the capital. Her zest for life and her innate simplicity charmed even the most critical. Stylish clothes–a frugal husband’s one indulgence–set off her good looks.

After Harding’s death, she planned the new administration’s social life as her husband wanted it: unpretentious but dignified. Her time and her friendliness now belonged to the nation, and she was generous with both. As she wrote later, she was “I, and yet, not I–this was the wife of the President of the United States and she took precedence over me….” Under the sorrow of her younger son’s sudden death at 16, she never let grief interfere with her duties as First Lady. Tact and gaiety made her one of the most popular hostesses of the White House, and she left Washington in 1929 with the country’s respect and love.

For greater privacy in Northampton, the Coolidges bought “The Beeches,” a large house with spacious grounds. Calvin Coolidge died there in 1933. He had summed up their marriage in his Autobiography: “For almost a quarter of a century she was borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces.” After his death she sold The Beeches, bought a smaller house, and in time undertook new ventures she had longed to try: her first airplane ride, her first trip to Europe. She kept her aversion to publicity and her sense of fun until her death in 1957. Her chief activity as she grew older was serving as a trustee of the Clarke School her great pleasure was the family of her surviving son, John.


Fookem and Bug

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge
January 3, 1879 – July 8, 1957

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge was the wife of U.S President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady of the United States from 1923 to 1929. She knew sign language. She taught at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts. Also, she was a trustee of that school during World War 1. She was a very popular first lady who did much to aid the deaf.

Grace was only one child in the family. After her father suffered an accident when she was four year old and Grace was sent to stay with the Yale family for almost one year until her father recovered. Yale’s older daughter June was teaching at the Clarke School for the Deaf. Grace found her interest in the deaf even though she wanted to teach them when she grew up.

Calvin Coolidge(standing far right of picture below with Gardiner Greene Hubbard in the center) lived on campus of Clarke School for the Deaf where he met his future wife Grace Anna Goodhue (standing far left of picture).

Many years later Grace grew up to be a young lady, she went to the University of Vermont and graduated in 1902. After that she moved back and stayed with the Yale family while teaching at Clarke School for the Deaf. She taught both the lower and intermediate levels. Grace met Calvin Coolidge in the spring of 1905. While Grace was watering flowers outside the school one day, she happened to look up at the open window of in Adams House (formerly known as Robert N Weir House), a faculty house behind to the school’s main dormitory and caught a glimpse of Calvin Coolidge shaving in front of a mirror with nothing on but long underwear and a hat. She burst out laughing at the sight he heard the noise and turned to look at her. It was their first meeting. After a more formal introduction sometime later, the two were quickly attracted to each other and got married on October 4, 1905 at her parents’ home in Vermont. They had two sons, John in 1906 and Calvin, Jr, in 1908.

In 1920 her husband Calvin Coolidge was a Vice President until 1923 President Warren G. Harding died from a heart attack or stroke. Then he Calvin became a U.S. President. Six years later on the afternoon of their departure from the White House on March 4, 1929, Calvin Coolidge announced that they had achieved their goal and raised two million dollars for the Clarke School for the Deaf.

She was voted one of America’s greatest living women in 1931. She received a gold medal for her distinguished service to the school and her fine influence as First Lady.

After Grace’s husband died in 1933, for the first time in her life, she was free to set her own agenda. She helped fundraising efforts for the Clarke School, traveled extensively throughout Europe, avidly followed the Boston Red Sox because she loved baseball, and enjoyed visiting with son John and his family.

She kept her aversion to publicity and her sense of fun until her death on July 8, 1957 at the age of 78. She was buried next to the president at Plymouth, Vermont. Her son John Coolidge died on May 31, 2000 at age 93

Did Grace Coolidge know sign language? Possible! She did not use sign language much where she taught at the oral school where she learned a method of teaching the deaf to communicate with lip-reading rather than sign language. When Calvin became President, he forbade Grace to do anything out of the ordinary. She was not allowed to dance in public, give speeches, drive an automobile, or fly in an airplane. In fact, when she was asked to give a speech by a group of women reporters, she obliged them, while obeying her husband’s edict against public speaking, by giving the entire speech in sign language. When her child Calvin, Jr. died after a blister on his foot developed into blood poisoning. Grace was not allowed to speak to the press so she once gave a five-minutes sign language speech at a luncheon. Grace earned enormous sympathy from Americans in the summer of 1924.

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge Timeline

1883 Grace Coolidge was 4 year old and said that she wanted to be a teacher for the deaf after she saw her host sister teaching at the Clarke School for the Deaf.

1902 – 1905 Grace Goodhue was a teacher at the Clarke School for the Deaf. She left the school after only three years of service to marry Calvin and join him in his political career.

July 1924: Once in the White House, Grace believed that the First Lady had an obligation to work on social issues of the day. Education for the deaf was a major concern, along with child welfare. When the Coolidges’ son, sixteen-year-old Calvin, Jr., died suddenly on July 7, 1924, the nation grieved along with the beloved First Lady. She was silent so she used her sign language to the press.

September 26, 1924: William F. Garcelon of Boston director of Coolidge and Dawes clubs since they were running for office, announced thousands of people will be mobilized through “Deaf and Dumb” clubs. Clubs will be organized in all states

Helen Keller reading the lips of Grace Coolidge while standing by stairs, 1926.

January 12-14 1926: Helen Keller visited the White House! She placed her fingers on the lips of President and Mrs. Coolidge to communicate with them. Mrs. Coolidge received Ms. Keller, her teacher, Mrs. Macy, and her secretary, Miss Thompson. Miss Keller is raising $2 million for the fund for the Foundation for the Blind. At a gathering at the Washington auditorium, Miss Keller addressed 2,000 people to raise funds.

January 29, 1927: Mrs. Coolidge received the graduating class of a public school for the deaf from New York City.

June 2, 1927: Mrs. Coolidge received the graduates of a school for the deaf from New York City.

June 1928: Mrs. Coolidge visited Dr. Caroline A. Yale, head of the Clarke School for the Deaf, and the woman who trained Grace as a teacher of the deaf.

November 16, 1928: tea with representatives from the Clarke School for the Deaf. There was a lunch for sponsors and $2million is to be raised for the school. The Coolidges hoped that this will “arouse a greater interest in the problems of the deaf and in this humanitarian work which has so seemingly failed to keep pace with progress in other fields.” The fund will be used for the modernization of buildings and creation of a research department.

March 3, 1929: $2 million was raised for the Clarke School for the Deaf. Mrs. Coolidge will present the check when she arrives in Northampton and leaves the White House.

March 4 1929: Upon taking the train and leaving Washington, they thanked the donors who raised $2million for the school. The funds created the Clarence W. Barron Research Department which would study experimental phonetics, the heredity of deafness, and the psychological difficulties of the deaf child.

After 1933 Mrs. Coolidge continued to campaign on the behalf of deaf children’s education the rest of her life. In 1935 she was head of the board of trustees at the Clarke School for the Deaf and in 1955 began another fund raising drive for 3 million dollars to improve the school. One of the trustees was Senator John F. Kennedy. The school grew to 17 buildings, and she often visited classes. All the students knew her by name.


Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge - History

Biography: For her "fine personal influence exerted as First Lady of the Land," Grace Coolidge received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences. In 1931 she was voted one of America's twelve greatest living women.

She had grown up in the Green Mountain city of Burlington, Vermont, only child of Andrew and Lemira B. Goodhue, born in 1879. While still a girl she heard of a school for deaf children in Northampton, Massachusetts, and eventually decided to share its challenging work. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902 and went to teach at the Clarke School for the Deaf that autumn.

In Northampton she met Calvin Coolidge they belonged to the same boating, picnicking, whist-club set, composed largely of members of the local Congregational Church. In October 1905 they were married at her parents' home. They lived modestly they moved into half of a duplex two weeks before their first son was born, and she budgeted expenses well within the income of a struggling small-town lawyer.

To Grace Coolidge may be credited a full share in her husband's rise in politics. She worked hard, kept up appearances, took her part in town activities, attended her church, and offset his shyness with a gay friendliness. She bore a second son in 1908, and it was she who played backyard baseball with the boys. As Coolidge was rising to the rank of governor, the family kept the duplex he rented a dollar-and-a-half room in Boston and came home on weekends.

In 1921, as wife of the Vice President, Grace Coolidge went from her housewife's routine into Washington society and quickly became the most popular woman in the capital. Her zest for life and her innate simplicity charmed even the most critical. Stylish clothes--a frugal husband's one indulgence--set off her good looks.

After Harding's death, she planned the new administration's social life as her husband wanted it: unpretentious but dignified. Her time and her friendliness now belonged to the nation, and she was generous with both. As she wrote later, she was "I, and yet, not I--this was the wife of the President of the United States and she took precedence over me. " Under the sorrow of her younger son's sudden death at 16, she never let grief interfere with her duties as First Lady. Tact and gaiety made her one of the most popular hostesses of the White House, and she left Washington in 1929 with the country's respect and love.

For greater privacy in Northampton, the Coolidges bought "The Beeches," a large house with spacious grounds. Calvin Coolidge died there in 1933. He had summed up their marriage in his Autobiography: "For almost a quarter of a century she was borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces." After his death she sold The Beeches, bought a smaller house, and in time undertook new ventures she had longed to try: her first airplane ride, her first trip to Europe. She kept her aversion to publicity and her sense of fun until her death in 1957. Her chief activity as she grew older was serving as a trustee of the Clarke School her great pleasure was the family of her surviving son, John.

For more information about Mrs. Coolidge, please visit
The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, Inc.
web site.


Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

Grace Coolidge served as first lady throughout her husband Calvin Coolidge’s two terms in the years 1923-1929. Grace was 44 years old when she became first lady.

Grace attended the University of Vermont, and so became the first first lady who had graduated from a coed college or university. Following her college years, Grace taught deaf students at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts. Grace actually met her husband while living and working in Massachusetts and eventually stopped working as a teacher to stay home with their two sons. Grace maintained her love of animals and kept many pets at the White House, which included a number of dogs, cages of canaries, and even a raccoon. Throughout her life, Grace had been a passionate Boston Red Sox fan. As first lady, she was able to sit in the Red Sox dugout during the 1925 World Series. She also was able to welcome the acclaimed Helen Keller to the White House. Because Keller was both blind and deaf, she placed one hand on Grace’s lips and the other on her neck in order to “hear” her speak.

Quotes

Upon leaving the White House, Grace noted about her role, “This was I and yet not I. This was the wife of the President of the United States and she took precedence over me.”


Sources:

Caroli, Betty. First Ladies. Oxford University Press, 1986.

Coolidge, Calvin. The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge. Cosmopolitan, 1929.

McCoy, Donald R. "Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge," in Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green, eds., Notable American Women. Harvard University Press, 1980, pp. 162–163.

Randolph, Mary. Presidents and First Ladies. D. Appleton, 1936.

Ross, Ishbel. Grace Coolidge and Her Era. Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, 1988 (paperback reprint of original edition published by Dodd, Mead, 1962).

Wikander, Lawrence E., and Robert H. Ferrell, eds. Grace Coolidge: An Autobiography. High Plains Publishing, 1992.


--> Coolidge, Grace Goodhue, 1879-1957

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge served as First Lady of as the wife of the 30th President, Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929). An exceptionally popular White House hostess, she was voted one of America’s 12 greatest living women in 1931.

For her “fine personal influence exerted as First Lady of the Land,” Grace Coolidge received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences. In 1931 she was voted one of America’s twelve greatest living women.

She had grown up in the Green Mountain city of Burlington, Vermont, only child of Andrew and Lemira B. Goodhue, born in 1879. While still a girl she heard of a school for deaf children in Northampton, Massachusetts, and eventually decided to share its challenging work. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902 and went to teach at the Clarke School for the Deaf that autumn.

In Northampton she met Calvin Coolidge they belonged to the same boating, picnicking, whist-club set, composed largely of members of the local Congregational Church. In October 1905 they were married at her parents’ home. They lived modestly they moved into half of a duplex two weeks before their first son was born, and she budgeted expenses well within the income of a struggling small-town lawyer.

To Grace Coolidge may be credited a full share in her husband’s rise in politics. She worked hard, kept up appearances, took her part in town activities, attended her church, and offset his shyness with a gay friendliness. She bore a second son in 1908, and it was she who played backyard baseball with the boys. As Coolidge was rising to the rank of governor, the family kept the duplex he rented a dollar-and-a-half room in Boston and came home on weekends.

In 1921, as wife of the Vice President, Grace Coolidge went from her housewife’s routine into Washington society and quickly became the most popular woman in the capital. Her zest for life and her innate simplicity charmed even the most critical. Stylish clothes–a frugal husband’s one indulgence–set off her good looks.

After Harding’s death, she planned the new administration’s social life as her husband wanted it: unpretentious but dignified. Her time and her friendliness now belonged to the nation, and she was generous with both. As she wrote later, she was “I, and yet, not I–this was the wife of the President of the United States and she took precedence over me….” Under the sorrow of her younger son’s sudden death at 16, she never let grief interfere with her duties as First Lady. Tact and gaiety made her one of the most popular hostesses of the White House, and she left Washington in 1929 with the country’s respect and love.

For greater privacy in Northampton, the Coolidges bought “The Beeches,” a large house with spacious grounds. Calvin Coolidge died there in 1933. He had summed up their marriage in his Autobiography: “For almost a quarter of a century she was borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces.” After his death she sold The Beeches, bought a smaller house, and in time undertook new ventures she had longed to try: her first airplane ride, her first trip to Europe. She kept her aversion to publicity and her sense of fun until her death in 1957. Her chief activity as she grew older was serving as a trustee of the Clarke School her great pleasure was the family of her surviving son, John.


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About Grace Coolidge, First Lady

Grace Goodhue Coolidge was a strong support to her husband, Calvin Coolidge, during his rise in politics. Her extroverted friendliness brought balance to his shyness.

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge was William Philo Hibbard's 4th Cousin

Wife of Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States.

Born: January 3, 1879 Burlington, Vermont

Died: July 8, 1957 Northampton, Massachusetts

Presidency: Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929

Grace Coolidge had already made an impact on the American public as a glamorous spouse of the Vice President. When she became First Lady at the age of 44, she was already intriguing to the public. Since she did not give interviews to the press, her public silence only enhanced her mystery and glamour. Because her husband was often perceived as non-talkative, she was the outgoing one who impressed visitors and dignitaries in a joyous White House. However, two deaths marked this presidency. The death of President Warren Harding, in 1923, brought a sudden presidency to the then Vice President Coolidge and the death of their son, Calvin, Jr., in 1924, cast a pallor over the many successes the two did have in their time as First Couple.

Grace Anna Goodhue was born in Burlington, Vermont on January 3, 1879. She was the only child of Andrew Issachar Goodhue and Lemira Barrett. Grace’s parents were from New Hampshire--Lemira from Merrimack and Andrew from Hancock. The Goodhues were the seventh generation descending from William Goodhue, who, in 1636, emigrated from England to Ipswich, Massachusetts. Goodhues served in the first Congress and one became a U.S. Senator in 1797. (source: Grace Coolidge: An Autobiography)

Andrew Goodhue became an electrical engineer after an apprenticeship in Nashua, NH. In 1870,he married Lemira Barrett and they moved to Burlington, Vermont where he had a job waiting at Gates Cotton Mill. They lived at 315 St. Paul Street in mill housing after nine years, Grace was born. Her parents bought a home on lower Maple Street and, when Grace was two years old, they relocated. As an only child, Grace was part of her parent’s circle. With few playmates, she appreciated visits to her grandparents, Benjamin and Caroline, and with three uncles and two aunts the house in Hancock, NH, was filled with nine grandchildren.

An early memory for Grace was that of an injury to her father at the mill. Despite the fact that she was only four years old, she remembered that a knot in the wood he was cutting at the mill flew out and struck his face so that bones of his nose and jaw were broken and his eye muscles were injured. Since her father needed a quiet recovery, Grace was sent to live with Mrs. John Lyman Yale and her family. Grace grew to love this family. They were the ones who introduced Grace to children with hearing impairment.

Burlington was a small city with excellent schools. Grace credited them with giving her an excellent education and lively social life. She had the opportunity to hear fine music in such a worldly city. Her family must have encouraged this and even hired an elocutionist for Grace’s music lessons. Her musical education included grammar school piano lessons.

Religion was part of Grace’s youth. At sixteen, she decided to become a member of the Congregational Church and change her affiliation from the methodist church where her parents worshipped. This showed a leadership streak in that she made the decision and other family members followed her. Her parents soon joined her in her new church home and her father made many a repair to the organ or furnace as a deacon.

Andrew Goodhue formed a business partnership with William H. Lange and bought a machine shop. Only a year later, 1887, her father was appointed Inspector of Boilers of Steam Vessels for Lake Champlain. In 1898, his shop was sold and he continued as Inspector of Steam Vessels until 1920. Grace also remembered steam heat and electricity being installed in her home in her early years. These modern conveniences were noted by her in her Autobiography since they changed and softened the hardships of daily life.

Grace graduated from high school in 1897 and even though the female population was small at the University of Vermont, she assumed she would attend. She did take a year off before going to college for health reasons (she had curvature of the spine and needed exercise to overcome it) and lived with her aunt, Alice H. Goodhue, widow of Dr. Perley E. Goodhue. Her father built a new home up the hill at 312 Maple Street and she lived there with her family during college. When Grace entered college, she was five feet four inches tall and considered herself to be plump. She had thick curly black hair, grey-green eyes and a generous mouth. She liked her life at college. She enjoyed sleigh rides in winter and theater productions. She did join with thirteen other women to petition Pi Beta Phi, a national fraternity, for a charter at the University of Vermont. The group was successful and they met many times in the attic of her house.

Her friendship with Ivah W. Gale from Newport, Vermont is important. Ivah lived with the Goodhues during college and was a lifelong friend. (She returned to live with Grace in the 1950’s at Grace’s final home, Road Forks on Ward Avenue in Northampton, M.) Grace told her friends, “She is more like a sister than any other friend I have.” ) (Ross, p. 336)

Surprising her mother, Grace did not apply to teach in Burlington, but wrote Caroline Yale, principal of the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, MA, to request a position in the teacher training class. The Yale family had introduced Grace to children with hearing impairment and thus Grace had the courage to contact Caroline, a Yale family member. Mrs. Goodhue agreed that Grace should teach in Northampton since this was a women’s town with Smith College dominating the social life.

The career of teaching deaf children was a challenging one. Very few would seek out the oral method of teaching and look for such a serious occupation. Despite the fact that Grace only taught a few years, she was to make this her lifelong interest.

There are two versions of how Calvin Coolidge met Grace Goodhue, but the proximity of the two was helpful. They lived across the street from each other. Grace saw Calvin Coolidge stand in his window to shave with a derby hat on the back of his head to hold down part of his hair. He was wearing long underwear and a hat. He must have looked comical. Either she laughed and he pursued her or she asked her janitor to deliver a flower in a pot to him. The next morning, the janitor brought back his calling card asking if he might call. In June of 1904, they began to write letters to each other. The only letters to survive are Calvin’s letters to Grace. In the letters, Calvin complimented Grace and mentioned shared interests such as poetry. For example, he wrote, “What shall I do with so many blossoms with no one to help me look at them? Perhaps you can think and tell me” (June 21, 1904) On November 6, 1904, “Sometimes the best part of having you with me is after you are gone. For it is only when I am alone again that I realize how much pleasure you really made for me and remember that I expressed so little of it to you at parting…if you gave me much practice I might learn to do a little better.”

Grace, herself, characterized her marriage to Calvin Coolidge, October 4, 1905, as uniting people of “ vastly different temperaments and tastes” and commented that her mother “was not in her usual good health” on their wedding day. Actually Mrs. Goodhue opposed the timing of the marriage since she wanted the couple to wait until Grace could learn to bake bread. This was a home wedding with only relatives and a few friends. However the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton at the time called the groom “one of the best known young lawyers of Northampton” and “prominent in Republican politics” so his impact on that Massachusetts city was already noted.

Grace, looking back at her marriage, treasured the simplicity of those early years. She called the knotted counterpane blanket that Calvin’s invalid mother made, as “our most precious heirloom” as they started their marriage. They set up housekeeping in rented rooms and then a half a house. She wrote, “What matter these trappings if love is strong and life is sweet?” She also agreed to a traditional marriage with her husband, Calvin, as the head of the family. This was based on economics as well. She stopped teaching and his law firm and political offices would be their sole income. She also became pregnant and gave birth on September 7, 1906 soon after they moved into their two family house.

Calvin’s description of the birth of John in his Autobiography showed how much he revered his wife and their new family. “The fragrance of the clematis which covered the bay window filled the room like a benediction, where the mother lay with her baby. We called him John in honor of my father. It was all very wonderful to us.”

However, as Calvin climbed the political ladder in state politics, Grace was left alone to raise a baby and be a homemaker while Calvin left for the week in Boston. She wondered, “I marvel at the father’s confidence in my ability to cope with the problem.” They also rather quickly added a second son, Calvin, Jr. on April 13, 1908, to the family so she had two boys to raise. She looked to the pastor of her church for help in raising the boys. (This set a pattern for at the White House, the assistant physician to the president, would once again be an older brother for the boys.) Grace was the one who laid out the train tracks and built the sport roadster with son John, not father Calvin.

Grace was concerned that her husband favored the younger son over the older one. Father Calvin Coolidge had a “strong bond” with his second son, “who bore a strong resemblance to the mother whom he had lost in boyhood.” This meant that his relationship with son John was strained and would become more so over the years. Five year old Calvin Junior had an operation for empyema to repair an infected lung and both parents hovered over this more frail son.

Grace’s fraternity, Pi Beta Phi, was a wonderful social outlet for Grace. She went to conventions and, in 1901, before the boys were born, was president of the Western Massachusetts Alumnae Club. She traveled with her “sisters” to Berkeley, California in 1915 for the national biennial convention. She enjoyed the social events and parties, but this was abruptly interrupted with a telegram from Calvin announcing his race for Lieutenant Governor. She did not finish the tour of California sights, but took the next train home. Fortunately she returned to the East Coast since, her mother needed nursing and assistance back in Burlington. However, before Grace left California, she and her fraternity sisters vowed to write round robin letters not knowing that future historians would use these to gain insight into their lives and interests.

Political officials were not well paid in the early 1900’s, so Calvin Coolidge borrowed funds from his father and tightened his budget to support his family. However, he did not want to be beholden to anyone. As his political trajectory escalated, Frank Waterman Stearns, his political backer, offered the couple a house on Beacon Hill when Calvin was elected governor. They turned it down with Grace remaining in Northampton with the boys and Calvin taking on an extra room at Adams House in Boston where he stayed during the week. They had no car Calvin took the train and public transportation to social affairs. Grace did hire a housekeeper. Cal also liked to buy hats for himself and Grace buying clothes for Grace was his one extravagance.

The governorship could have been the pinnacle of Calvin’s career, but the Boston Police Strike made him well known for his stand on law and order and he was then a possible candidate for the Republicans’ national ticket in 1920. With Calvin’s strong stand against the strikers who had left the city of Boston without police protection, he thought this would be the end of his career. He had done his duty to call out the state militia, but probably alienated union supporters everywhere. Instead, newspaper headlines heralded words from his telegram to the A. F. of L. Union President, Samuel Gompers, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” Coolidge’s name became popular in Republican political circles Mr. Stearns printed up the governor’s speeches in a small book entitled “Have Faith in Massachusetts” and these were distributed at the Chicago Republican convention. After Warren Harding was chosen to be the presidential nominee by Republican political bosses in smoke-filled rooms, an Oregon representative nominated Coolidge for Vice President and he won in a popular upsurge among the delegates. Coolidge was phoned when he was at Adams House with Grace. She was surprised that he accepted.

The landslide election victory of Harding and Coolidge over James M. Cox and Franklin D. Roosevelt, brought a major change for Grace Coolidge. Her husband has been in politics all these years (1906-1920) while she had been on the periphery. Only when Calvin was mayor of Northampton, was she part of the political equation. Now things would change. They moved to Washington, D.C. to live at the Hotel Willard since no residence was provided for the Vice President. The boys were to board at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, about one hour away. Grace no longer had daily responsibility for them. She was to shift to the social scene. She presided over “The Ladies of the Senate”, wives and hostesses of the U.S. Senators. She felt more prepared to play with train tracks, but Lois Marshall, wife of the out-going Vice President, gave friendly guidance to Grace to help break through the Washington fa󧫞. Grace’s natural charm was to help smooth this transition. Even acid tongued Alice Roosevelt Longworth (Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter) could only compliment Grace. “She had a simplicity and charm, seemed thoroughly to enjoy her position as wife of the Vice President, was amused by all the official functions and attentions, yet was always absolutely natural and unimpressed by it all.” (Longworth, p. 326)

Summers are hot and humid in Washington,D.C. and it was common for political families to travel to cooler climates. Thus Calvin and Grace’s visit with his father, Col. John Coolidge, in August of 1923 while Warren and Florence Harding toured the West Coast was not so unusual. Trains and the new automobile made travel easier. Of course the dirt roads leading to Plymouth did not make it a travel destination. It was a farming community set apart by isolation and beauty.

Calvin’s Autobiography described the trembling in his father’s voice as he climbed the stairs of the farmhouse to tell the couple of the night’s passing of President Warren Harding. After praying, they went to the parlor and Grace brought in an oil lamp so they could decide their actions. Calvin wrote a telegram to Mrs. Harding. Then Vermont Congressman Porter Dale of Island Pond drove up and encouraged an immediate oath so that the Vice President could become President as soon as possible. Calvin turned to his father, a notary public, as the official in the room with the power to do this. Grace placed the family Bible on the table, Secretary Erwin Geisser typed up three copies of the official oath of office and at 2:47 a.m. on August 3rd,1923 Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as president.

The young boys were not in the house. John, age 16, had just arrived at Ft. Devens in Ayer, MA to attend the Citizens’ Military Training Camp as a leading example for the nation’s boys. Calvin Jr. went to Northampton where he biked to work on a tobacco farm. Both learned the news of their father’s presidency and continued as if nothing had happened. As Grace and Cal prepared to leave Plymouth Notch, Vermont for Washington, D.C., Vermont neighbors lined up to shake their hands and wish them well. The Coolidges returned by train to Washington and gave Florence Harding time to pack up at the White House.They moved to the White House on August 21st.

First Lady Grace Coolidge

“This was I and yet not I, this was the wife of the President of the United States and she took precedence over me my personal likes and dislikes must be subordinated to the consideration of those things which were required of her.” (Autobiography, p. 62 and Round Robin letter of her first day at the White House as First Lady)

“I am rather proud of the fact that after nearly a quarter of a century of marriage, my husband feels free to make his decisions and act upon them without consulting me or giving me advance information concerning them.”

A role had been thrust upon Grace Coolidge and this affected her personally. This obviously was stressful as she tried to hold up her part of the job without really having substantial input. As a college educated woman with her ideas valued by many, this was a submissive position. However, the role of First Lady as greeter and cheerleader was her preferred role. She admitted to loving the interaction with people. Just as her father greeted people at his Burlington, Vermont church, she greeted them at the White House. She liked making people feel at home. That was her gift.

During the changing times of the 1920’s Grace Coolidge continued the Hardings’ precedent of garden parties and musical gatherings. In 1925, the State Department was charged with formal entertaining and that relieved some of the pressure on Mrs. Coolidge and her personal secretary. Grace revived many White House traditions and added a few as well. The Coolidges were the first couple to light the community Christmas tree by pushing a button to activate the lights on the tree electricity was a new invention at the time. Mrs. Coolidge, a church singer, invited carolers to the White House and decorated a tree with the boys.

Sounds of children at play during the Easter egg-rolling were a joy to Grace. She truly loved children and animals. She showed off her raccoon, Rebecca, for the children to admire. When the raccoon was too rambunctious for the White House, Grace thought a mate would settle her down. Reuben was recuited, but both raccoons did have to go to the zoo at the end of this experiment. Both Calvin and Grace had animals in their houses from the days even before they had their own children, but no White House couple had such a variety of pets. Their dogs, birds, cats, and raccoons must have been the talk of the town.

Renovation and restoration of the White House were very much on the mind of this very visual First Lady. She asked for a joint resolution by Congress to authorize acceptance of gifts of furniture for the stately White House. When she reached the White House in 1923, she was disappointed that authentic furniture from past occupants was not there. She had the building searched for valuable pieces and did find antiques in the attic. She and General Grant (grandson of U.S. Grant) asked for donations for the White House and Grant rescued some antiques from buildings where they had been stored.

Engineers proposed a $500,000 renovation of the White House to secure the roof and attic and ceilings of the second story. Construction began in March of 1927 and the Coolidges vacated to 15 Dupont Circle to speed up the work. Mrs. Coolidge donned a hard hat to inspect the work one day and was pleased with the enlarged third floor and new sky parlor. This was part of the roof of the south portico and enabled one to have great views of the Washington Monument and Mall.

The highpoint of the administration for Grace was the visit from her fraternity, the Pi Phi’s when they presented a portrait by Howard Chandler Christy to the White House of Grace in a red dress next to the president’s dog, Rob Roy. Her sorority sisters, 1300 strong, filled the White House with joy and pride.

The low point was the death of her second son. Admiral Boone, the assistant White House physician, often played tennis with the boys on their vacations from Mercersburg Academy. Boone arrived one day for a game and found Calvin Jr. resting in a room with his mother watching over him. When Boone inquired as to the nature of Calvin’s illness, he tracked down an infection from a blister raised by playing tennis. This fast moving septicemia took the life of Calvin Jr. within a few days. Father Calvin, in his Autobiography, said that the “power and glory of the White House went with him.” Grace was very religious and believed that her son would be waiting for her in heaven. She even wrote a poem to this effect, “Open Door.” To lose your son in such a public arena must have been devastating. Some historians believe that Calvin, the president, became clinically depressed. Grace had to soldier on and also look to their other son, John, now at Amherst College. She also faced a whole term of four years in the White House and knew that many relied on her to perform her role well.

Grace sought out people with disabilities to visit the White House. Helen Keller was a favorite. This interest in helping deaf children and individuals with disabilities was very strong and at the end of Calvin’s administration, $2 million was raised for the Clarke School for the Deaf. Her husband made her cause his cause. When wealthy friends asked how they could commemorate his years in Washington, he asked them to give to the Clarke School.

No one is quite sure where Grace’s interest in baseball began, but it never ended. She was known as “The First Lady of Baseball.” “You may not give a hoot for baseball, but to me it is my very life,” she reportedly said to friends. The American League sent her a yearly pass in a gold trimmed purse.

When Calvin did not choose to run again for president in 1928, they planned to retire to their two family house in Northampton. Lacking the privacy they needed, they bought The Beeches, a gated estate on Hampton Court in Northampton. Grace plunged into community service and writing articles.

With Calvin’s sudden death of a coronary thrombosis in 1933, Grace filled her retirement with her precious four (son John, his wife, Florence, and their children, Cynthia and Lydia) and her many interests. Besides her local charity work for the Northampton Red Cross and her church, she raised funds in 1939 to bring refugee children to the U.S. from Germany and was Honorary Chair of the Northampton committee to raise money for the Queen Wilhelmina Fund for the Dutch victims of the Nazi invaders. She sold the Beeches, their retirement house, and built a new house, Road Forks, on Ward Avenue in Northampton. She loaned this house to the WAVES during World War II.

In the 1950’s her health began to fail due to heart trouble. She lived quietly but stepped forward to dedicate the Coolidge Memorial Room at Forbes Library in Northampton and urged her son to give the homestead where Calvin was sworn in as president in Plymouth, Vermont to the State of Vermont to help preserve the legacy of her husband. She died at age 78 of kypho-scoliotic heart disease. The date was July 8, 1957.

Grace Coolidge remains a popular presidential wife in the rankings of all First Ladies. This is probably due to her image as an elegant, young, and vibrant First Lady. The Secret Service nicknamed her “Sunshine.” The social side of the White House, under her guidance, exemplified tradition, such as her emphasis on holidays, and also included children and those with disabilities.

Her interest in White House history was important in that she asked for a joint resolution by Congress to authorize acceptance of gifts of furniture. She wanted to restore antiques to the building and treat it as a living museum. She also improved the building by adding a sky parlor for more sunshine she renovated the family quarters.

She was a very modern woman she hiked and swam. She loved baseball enough to attend games into the late innings of her own life.

International in outlook, she raised funds for victims of World War II and loaned her house to the WAVES as their headquarters in Northampton.

She wanted to help preserve the legacy of her husband. She gave materials and memorabilia to the Forbes Library, a public library in Northampton, and made plans to transfer the homestead, where Calvin Coolidge had been sworn in as president, to the State of Vermont.

Grace’s modesty is part of her legacy. She once said, “It has been my experience that those who are truly great are the most simple people at heart, the most considerate and understanding, with a decided aversion of talking about themselves.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Coolidge

Born in Burlington, Vermont, the only child of Andrew Issaclar Goodhue (1848-1923), a mechanical engineer and steamboat inspector, and Lemira Barrett Goodhue (1849-1929), Grace graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902, where she was a founding member of the Beta chapter of Pi Beta Phi sorority. She then joined the faculty of the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts, as a lip reading instructor.

While watering flowers outside the school one day in 1903, she happened to look up at the open window of Robert N. Weir's boardinghouse and caught a glimpse of Calvin Coolidge shaving in front of a mirror with nothing on but long underwear and a hat. She burst out laughing at the sight he heard the noise and turned to look at her. It was their first meeting. After a more formal introduction sometime later, the two were quickly attracted to each other.

Grace's vivacity and charm proved a perfect complement to Coolidge's reserved manner. In the summer of 1905, Coolidge proposed in the form of an ultimatum: "I am going to be married to you." Grace readily consented, but her mother objected and did everything she could to postpone the wedding. Coolidge never reconciled with his mother-in-law, who later insisted that Grace had been largely responsible for Coolidge's political success.

Coolidge, age 33, married Grace Goodhue, age 26, on October 4, 1905, at the home of the bride's parents in Burlington, VT. The small wedding, attended by 15 guests, was performed by the Reverend Edward A. Hungerford. The newlyweds planned a two-week honeymoon to Montreal, Canada, but at Coolidge's suggestion cut it short at the end of one week and settled at Northampton. Mrs. Coolidge, although raised a Democrat, adopted the party of her husband.

Grace Coolidge may be credited a full share in her husband's rise in politics. She worked hard, kept up appearances, took her part in town activities, attended her church, and offset his shyness with a gay friendliness. As Coolidge was rising to the office of governor, the family kept the duplex he rented a dollar-and-a-half room in Boston and came home on weekends. Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge (1879-1957) First Lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge was a strong support to her husband, Calvin Coolidge, during his rise in politics. Her extroverted friendliness brought balance to his shyness.

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge (January 3, 1879 – July 8, 1957) was the wife of Calvin Coolidge and First Lady of the United States from 1923 to 1929.

Born in Burlington, Vermont, the only child of Andrew Issaclar Goodhue (1848-1923), a mechanical engineer and steamboat inspector, and Lemira Barrett Goodhue (1849-1929), Grace graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902, where she was a founding member of the Beta chapter of Pi Beta Phi sorority. She then joined the faculty of the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts, as a lip reading instructor.

While watering flowers outside the school one day in 1903, she happened to look up at the open window of Robert N. Weir's boardinghouse and caught a glimpse of Calvin Coolidge shaving in front of a mirror with nothing on but long underwear and a hat. She burst out laughing at the sight he heard the noise and turned to look at her. It was their first meeting. After a more formal introduction sometime later, the two were quickly attracted to each other.

Grace's vivacity and charm proved a perfect complement to Coolidge's reserved manner. In the summer of 1905, Coolidge proposed in the form of an ultimatum: "I am going to be married to you." Grace readily consented, but her mother objected and did everything she could to postpone the wedding. Coolidge never reconciled with his mother-in-law, who later insisted that Grace had been largely responsible for Coolidge's political success.

On October 4, 1905, Coolidge (age 33) married Grace Goodhue (age 26) at the home of the bride's parents at 312 Maple Street in Burlington. The small wedding, attended by 15 guests, was performed by the Reverend Edward A. Hungerford. The newlyweds planned a two-week honeymoon to Montreal, Canada, but at Coolidge's suggestion cut it short at the end of one week and settled at Northampton. Mrs. Coolidge, although raised a Democrat, adopted the party of her husband.

Grace Coolidge may be credited a full share in her husband's rise in politics. She worked hard, kept up appearances, took her part in town activities, attended her church, and offset his shyness with a gay friendliness. As Coolidge was rising to the office of governor, the family kept the duplex he rented a dollar-and-a-half room in Boston and came home on weekends.

The Coolidges had two sons:

John (1906-2000) - railroad and print company executive.

In 1921, as wife of the Vice President, Grace Coolidge went from her housewife's routine into Washington society and quickly became the most popular woman in the capital.

After Harding's death and Calvin Coolidge's succession to the Presidency, she planned the new administration's social life as her husband wanted it: unpretentious but dignified.

As First Lady, she was a popular hostess. The social highlight of the Coolidge years was the party for Charles Lindbergh following his transatlantic flight in 1927. The Coolidges were a particularly devoted couple, although the president never discussed state matters with her. She did not even know that he had decided not to seek re-election in 1928 until he announced it to the press.

She received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Science. In 1931 she was voted one of America's twelve greatest living women.

Calvin Coolidge summed up his marriage to Grace in his autobiography: "For almost a quarter of a century she was borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces."

For greater privacy in Northampton, the Coolidges bought "The Beeches," a large house with spacious grounds. Calvin died there in 1933.

After Calvin's death, Grace Coolidge continued her work on behalf of the deaf. During World War II, she was active in the Red Cross, civil defense, and scrap drives. She kept her sense of fun and her aversion to publicity until her death on July 8, 1957 at 78. She is buried next to her husband at Plymouth, Vermont.[1]

1/10/2015 Following the line from Capen Family (1500s-1600s) down to Calvin Coolidge on famouskin.com. This is where I got birth, death, marriage, spouse and most other info while drilling down then following back up and then down again to connect President Grant and President Calvin Coolidge, even though I previously found Grant. I had seen a connection with Coolidge. That would Only be on the people that I made and copied this note on, then took it further to Col Robert Gould Shaw. CTC: Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge was the wife of the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. She was the First Lady from 1923 to 1929. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902 with a bachelor of arts degree in teaching and joined the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech in Northampton, Massachusetts to teach deaf children to communicate by lip reading, rather than by signing. She met Calvin Coolidge in 1904, and the two were married the following year.

As her husband advanced his political career, Grace avoided politics. When Calvin Coolidge was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1919, she remained at home in Northampton with their children. After her husband's election as vice president in 1920, the family moved to Washington, D.C., living at the Willard Hotel. Coolidge did not speak out on political issues of the day, including women's rights. Instead, she dedicated herself to supporting popular causes and organizations, such as the Red Cross and the Visiting Nurse Association. After the death of her son Calvin in 1924, she won the sympathy of the country. Unlike previous first ladies, who had withdrawn almost entirely from the public spotlight after personal tragedies, Grace resumed her official duties after only a few months.

In 1929, Calvin Coolidge's term as president ended, and the couple retired to Northampton. After her husband's death in 1933, she continued her work with the deaf and wrote for several magazines. She served on the boards of Mercersburg Academy and the Clarke School. After the start of World War II, Grace joined a local Northampton committee dedicated to helping Jewish refugees from Europe, and loaned her house to WAVES. In 1957, she died of heart disease, and was buried in Plymouth, Vermont, beside her husband and her son.

Grace Anna Goodhue was born on January 3, 1879, in Burlington, Vermont, the only child of Andrew Issaclar Goodhue (1848�) and Lemira Barrett Goodie (1849�). She was of English ancestry. Her father, a deacon, and served as the steamboat inspector for the Lake Champlain Transportation Company, appointed to the position in 1887 by President Grover Cleveland. Her mother was a housewife, who taught her many domestic skills, including knitting, cooking, cleaning, and gardening.

She began her education at age five at a local public grade school in Burlington, and attended Burlington Public Middle School. It was during this time that she took an interest in music and took private piano lessons. In 1893, she entered Burlington High School. There she studied Latin and French, as well as geology, biology, and chemistry.[2] She also took a private course on elocution. She enrolled in 1898 at the University of Vermont, where she founded the Vermont chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, acted in productions of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night, and joined the college's glee club. She would become the first First Lady to have earned a four-year undergraduate degree. From 1902 to 1904, inspired by a childhood friend who had pursued a career teaching deaf children, she studied lip reading at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech and became a teacher there. The education of deaf children remained her lifelong passion.

Grace dated several young men during college. One relationship, that with Frank Joyner, was serious enough that marriage seemed inevitable. She ended the relationship in 1903 when she met a young rising attorney, Calvin Coolidge. Grace's vivacity and charm proved a perfect complement to Coolidge's reserved manner. In the summer of 1905, Coolidge proposed in the form of an ultimatum: "I am going to be married to you." Grace readily consented, but her mother objected and did everything she could to postpone the wedding. Coolidge never reconciled with his mother-in-law, who later insisted that Grace had been largely responsible for Coolidge's political success. On October 4, 1905, Goodhue and Coolidge married in a simple ceremony at her parents' house in Burlington: Coolidge House, The house was restored in 1993 by Champlain College*. They honeymooned for a week in Montreal and settled in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Calvin Coolidge's political career took off in 1907 when he was elected to the Massachusetts General Court. After his term in the state legislature ended, he served three consecutive one-year terms as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts (1916�), and one term as Governor of Massachusetts (1919�). In 1920, he was elected Vice President and took office in March 1921. Grace did not maintain much of a public profile.

In 1921, as wife of the Vice President, Grace Coolidge went from her housewife's routine into Washington society and quickly became the most popular woman in the capital.

After Harding's death and Calvin Coolidge's succession to the Presidency, Grace planned the new administration's social life as her husband wanted it: unpretentious and dignified.

As First Lady, she was a popular hostess. She was also the first First Lady to speak in sound newsreels. The social highlight of the Coolidge years was the party for Charles Lindbergh following his transatlantic flight in 1927. The Coolidges were a particularly devoted couple, although the president never discussed state matters with her. She did not even know that he had decided not to seek re-election in 1928 until he announced it to the press. She received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Science. In 1931 she was voted one of America's twelve greatest living women.

Calvin Coolidge summed up his marriage to Grace in his autobiography: "For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces."

For more privacy in Northampton, the Coolidges purchased The Beeches, a large house with spacious grounds. The former president died there after a sudden heart attack on January 5, 1933 at the age of 60. After her husband's death, Grace Coolidge continued her work on behalf of the deaf. She was also active in the Red Cross, civil defense, and scrap drives during World War II. Grace kept her sense of fun and her aversion to publicity until her death, July 8, 1957 at the age of 78. She is buried next to her husband in Plymouth, Vermont.


Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge - History

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

For her "fine personal influence exerted as First Lady of the Land," Grace Coolidge received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences. In 1931 she was voted one of America's twelve greatest living women.

She had grown up in the Green Mountain city of Burlington, Vermont, only child of Andrew and Lemira B. Goodhue, born in 1879. While still a girl she heard of a school for deaf children in Northampton, Massachusetts, and eventually decided to share its challenging work. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902 and went to teach at the Clarke School for the Deaf that autumn.

To Grace Coolidge may be credited a full share in her husband's rise in politics. She worked hard, kept up appearances, took her part in town activities, attended her church, and offset his shyness with a gay friendliness. She bore a second son in 1908, and it was she who played backyard baseball with the boys. As Coolidge was rising to the rank of governor, the family kept the duplex he rented a dollar-and-a-half room in Boston and came home on weekends.

In 1921, as wife of the Vice President, Grace Coolidge went from her housewife's routine into Washington society and quickly became the most popular woman in the capital. Her zest for life and her innate simplicity charmed even the most critical. Stylish clothes--a frugal husband's one indulgence--set off her good looks.

After Harding's death, she planned the new administration's social life as her husband wanted it: unpretentious but dignified. Her time and her friendliness now belonged to the nation, and she was generous with both. As she wrote later, she was "I, and yet, not I--this was the wife of the President of the United States and she took precedence over me. " Under the sorrow of her younger son's sudden death at 16, she never let grief interfere with her duties as First Lady. Tact and gaiety made her one of the most popular hostesses of the White House, and she left Washington in 1929 with the country's respect and love.

For greater privacy in Northampton, the Coolidges bought "The Beeches," a large house with spacious grounds. Calvin Coolidge died there in 1933. He had summed up their marriage in his Autobiography: "For almost a quarter of a century she was borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces." After his death she sold The Beeches, bought a smaller house, and in time undertook new ventures she had longed to try: her first airplane ride, her first trip to Europe. She kept her aversion to publicity and her sense of fun until her death in 1957. Her chief activity as she grew older was serving as a trustee of the Clarke School her great pleasure was the family of her surviving son, John.

For more information about Mrs. Coolidge, please visit
The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, Inc.
web site.


Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

(1879–1957). The White House staff gave first lady Grace Coolidge the nickname Sunshine because of her bright disposition. Her outgoing nature helped people warm up to her husband, Calvin Coolidge—30th president of the United States (1923–29)—a man known for being quiet and somewhat shy.

Grace Anna Goodhue was born in Burlington, Vt., on Jan. 3, 1879. After attending local schools, she enrolled at the University of Vermont, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1902. Influenced by a neighbor who worked with the hearing-impaired, she moved to Northampton, Mass., and joined the Clarke School for the Deaf. In Northampton she met Coolidge—a young lawyer who was serving on the city council. They married on Oct. 4, 1905, and had two sons, John in 1906 and Calvin, Jr., in 1908.

Coolidge wanted a traditional wife, and Grace kept completely out of politics. After he became governor of Massachusetts in 1919 and began working in Boston, she remained in Northampton with their sons but traveled in as needed to preside at official social events. Coolidge’s election as vice-president in 1920 took the family to Washington, D.C., where they lived at the Willard Hotel.

Coolidge became president on Aug. 3, 1923, following the death of Warren G. Harding. The new first lady became an immediate favorite for her wit, charm, and fondness for animals. She had many opportunities to display her friendly nature, as the Coolidges entertained often. Although her husband was known for his miserly ways, he indulged her interest in fashion and even bought some of her clothes himself. Grace remained interested in the hearing-impaired, and Helen Keller became a personal friend. Active in many popular causes, including the Red Cross and the Visiting Nurse Association, Grace took no stand on controversial issues such as women’s rights she also abided by her husband’s request that she stay away from interviews, but she was one of the most photographed first ladies ever. Her “flapper” fashions, her interests in baseball and hiking, and the fact that she had once had her own career made her a popular model for young women.

Grace earned enormous sympathy from Americans in the summer of 1924 when her son Calvin, Jr., died after developing blood poisoning from an infected blister on his foot. Unlike earlier first ladies, who withdrew from all public appearances at times of tragedy, she set a precedent that her successors would follow by resuming official duties within months. To take her mind off the death of her son, Grace focused on refurbishing the family quarters of the White House. Although she persuaded Congress to pass a law allowing the White House to accept donations from individuals, few Americans contributed. A major structural change in the White House during Grace’s tenure was the addition of a third floor and a “sky parlor,” a sunroom that became a favorite spot of later presidents.

In 1929 the Coolidges moved back to Northampton, where Calvin died on Jan. 5, 1933. Grace served as a trustee for the Clarke School, traveled extensively, and wrote articles for various magazines. She died of heart disease on July 8, 1957, in Northampton and was buried beside her husband and son at the Plymouth Notch Cemetery in Plymouth, Vt.