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American Women: Resources from the Manuscript Collections

Dolley Madison

Mrs. James Madison, (Dolley Payne), from an original picture by Gilbert Stuart. Between 1804 and 1855. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The papers of Dolley Madison (1768-1849) were among the first materials acquired by the division when they were transferred to the Library from the Smithsonian Institution in 1866, seventeen years after her death. As the young widow of John Todd Jr., Dolley married James Madison in 1794, and from 1801 to 1809 she acted as White House hostess for fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson while her husband served as the president's secretary of state. From 1809 to 1817, she was first lady during her husband's presidency. She was noted for her friendliness and charm, and her papers (1,700 items; 1794-1852; bulk 1836-49), most of which date after her husband's death, reflect her warm personal relationships and the use of her influential position to assist others. Notable are the letters she exchanged with her son John Payne Todd, nieces Anna Causten and Rebecca Todd, and nephews Richard D. Cutts and Samuel P. Todd. Additional materials relating to her may be found in the papers of James Madison (12,000 items; 1723-1859; bulk 1771-1836), William C. Rives (50,400 items; 1674-1939; bulk 1830-90), and others.

Manuscript Resources Referenced

The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.