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Frances Cleveland: Topics in Chronicling America

In 1886, Frances Cleveland became the youngest first lady in United States history. This guide provides access to materials related to "Frances Cleveland” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

Frances Cleveland (left) and President Grover Cleveland (right). October 12, 1887. Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, NE), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Frances Folsom Cleveland, the youngest First Lady in U.S. history, was an exceptionally beautiful and charming young woman. Following her marriage to Grover Cleveland, she became an overnight tabloid media sensation. A frenzied press began to cover her every movement and fashion statement. Her popularity became so great that when reporters made up a story that Frances had stopped wearing a bustle, everyone stopped wearing them—including Frances. During her two White House tenures as First Lady, Frances helped strengthen the Secret Service and promote free Kindergarten education for all. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

March 1885 President Cleveland chooses Frances C. Folsom as his bride.
June 2, 1886 The private wedding takes place in the White House Blue Room. John Philip Sousa's Marine Corps Band plays at ceremony's end.
June 1886 Honeymooning in a Deer Park Lodge cabin in Maryland, the couple finds themselves mobbed by the press.
1886 To protect his wife from reporters, Cleveland purchases a farmhouse in Georgetown Heights. After this, the Cleveland's reside in the White House only during the social season.
1887 Crowds flock to see Francis Cleveland during the couple's railway tour of Southern and Western states.
September 9, 1893 Frances gives birth to baby Esther in the White House: a First Lady first.