When a country gets a new president they also gain a new first lady. If history has shown us anything, it's that the first lady who has a vital role in the White House.
In recent years, first ladies have used their influence to champion important causes such as drug use, health awareness and focusing efforts on eliminating illiteracy. They weren't always calling for social change, however.
In the early 19th century, they were expected to be docile and be prepared to entertain guests and be good wives to the President of the United States. Their main role was to serve as hostess for private functions and social gatherings at the White House.
Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady 1933-1945
Eleanor served as first last for the longest tenure than any other first lady. Her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt served as President for 3+ terms.
While first lady, she helped serve as assistant secretary of the Navy and was an active participant in the State Democratic Committee. She was known for her strong views on unemployment, women's right to work, and the rights of visible minorities.
As the first lady, she paved the way for her successors to be a proponents of change.
Jackie Kennedy, first lady 1961-1963
As one of our nation's most beloved first ladies, Jackie Kennedy was known for her grace and impeccable style. As first lady, she helped to bring an unprecedented level of art and culture into the White House.
It wasn't until her husband's assassination that the world saw her true strength and perseverance.
Pat Nixon, first lady 1969-1974
Thelma Catherine, also known as Pat, experienced a rough childhood. Both her parents died by the time she was 18. That didn't stop her from attending college and becoming a teacher. This is where she met her husband, Richard.
As first lady, Pat was a proponent of volunteerism and a supporter of the arts. She helped add more than 600 paintings and antiques to the White House and commissioned musical performances in a variety of genres including opera and bluegrass.
Continue to the next page to see the impact of Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Michelle Obama.