Hart, Craig. A Genealogy of the Wives of the American Presidents and Their First Two Generations of Descent.

Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2004. 303p., softcover. Index. ISBN 0-7864-1956-3.

There have been thirty-eight First Ladies — an entirely unofficial designation for those women who sometimes have been very influential in their nation’s history. Five other wives of future presidents died before their husbands took office, two women became the wives of ex-presidents, and Ronald Reagan divorced his first wife, Jane Wyman; all forty-six are included in this volume. Each lineage listing begins with the grandchildren of the subject, then the children, then the woman herself, then each earlier generation as far back as it can be traced — which, in the case especially of the earlier, more aristocratic Virginia families, means latching on to a royal “gateway” ancestor which can whisk one back to the 8th or 9th century.None of Hart’s information is original, however, nor are actual citations anywhere supplied. “Sources,” all of them extremely brief, include some book titles but generally give only the names of the author’s correspondents, sometimes including the addresses of their websites, with no indication that any of them know what they’re talking about. Others cite repositories like the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio, but not the book or file or even the staff member consulted. Even a secondary compilation of this nature could have been based on some of the many thousands of books published about the presidents and their families, especially for such thoroughly researched individuals as Thomas Jefferson and William Henry Harrison. Considering the much more exhaustive investigation lineages of many of these lines available in the eight editions of Weis’s Ancestral Roots and in the many publications of Gary Boyd Roberts, I have to wonder why this book was published.

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Published in: on 11 January 2010 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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