First Ladies: Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

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Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge was the wife of President Calvin Coolidge. She would become the first First Lady to have earned a four-year undergraduate degree.

Grace Coolidge

She worked with deaf children to help them learn to communicate.

Grace Anna Goodhue was born on January 3, 1879 in Burlington, Vermont. She was the only child of Andrew Issaclar and Lemira Barrett Goodie Goodhue.
At a young age, she developed an interest in music and took private piano lessons. In 1898, she attended the University of Vermont and founded the Vermont chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. She also acted in college productions and joined the college glee club.

Grace and Calvin Coolidge

” 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.”

In 1903, she met a young rising attorney, Calvin Coolidge. The couple married on October 4, 1905 at her parent’s house.

The couple had two sons, John was born in 1906 and Calvin in 1908.

As her husband’s political career began to rise, Grace did not maintain a very public profile.

With the death of President Harding, her husband became president on August 2nd, 1923 and she became First Lady.

Grace Coolidge

Grace Coolidge became a popular hostess and one of the most popular women in the capital. After Charles Lindbergh made his transatlantic flight in 1927, the Coolidge’s hosted a party for him at the White House.

She was also the first First Lady to speak in sound newsreels.

On July 7, 1924, their son, Calvin Jr. died. He developed a blister while playing tennis that eventually developed into a blood infection. He was only 16 years old. His mother returned to her duties after a few months of mourning.

The Coolidge’s were very devoted to one another, but did not discuss state matters. Grace did not even know her husband would not seek re-election 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.

Upon leaving office, the Coolidge’s purchased a large house named, The Beeches, in Northampton. Calvin Coolidge died there on November 5, 1933.

Grace Coolidge

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.”

After her husband’s death, Grace continued to work on behalf of the deaf. She was also active during World War II with the Red Cross, civil defense and scrap drives.

She died on July 8, 1957 at the age of 78. She is buried beside her husband in Plymouth, Vermont.