Ohio History Journal

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Mary White: Autobiography of an

Ohio First Lady





As I hurriedly dressed I could hear the commotion downstairs, while outside the

National Guard was forming with appropriate commands and the neighing of

horses. It was Inauguration Day in Columbus, Ohio, January 12, 1931--my

father would soon be Governor George White. Because of the recent death of

Mother I was, at the age of twenty-four, to be Father's official hostess and First

Lady of Ohio. Full of determination to take the time to look my best, I was

applying my make-up when the voice of my father came up the stairs above the

laughter of the newspaper men, "Mary, where is my button hook?" I rushed into

his room and found it. With only one cheek rouged and no powder on, I ran

down to present it to the new Governor of Ohio. Yes, he was wearing his high

button shoes for the occasion.

I then went into the dining room in quest of a cup of coffee. There sat the

family, my sister Charlotte, my three brothers David, George and Bob, and Aunt

Florence, Uncle Bob and their daughter, Peggy. Relieved, I noted that breakfast

was going smoothly and raised my cup for a first sip. Just then one of the ten

newspaper men in the hall beckoned to me and I went to see what he wanted. It

seemed the troops and horses of the National Guard were feeling and looking very

pert so the Columbus Dispatch and the Columbus Citizen wanted a picture of me

with them. Without slipping on a coat I went out to the porte cochere to be with

the photographers. The Guard made a pretty sight that crisp January morning.

Shivering, I took my stand among them next to the captain whose horse became

overly excited and thrust his front hoof against my shin. Fortunately this happened

after the pictures were taken.

Feeling a little shaken and slightly bruised, I returned to the dining room and

retrived my coffee and a piece of toast. Then I checked with the kitchen, for after

the reception downtown we were entertaining the cabinet, the members of the




Even though Miss Mary White wrote of her experiences as First Lady in 1958, every effort

was made to recall how she felt and acted in 1931-1935 so that the reader may share with

her her experiences as they happened along the way. Miss White's original manuscript is

titled, "Study in White," and is deposited in the Ohioana Library in Columbus. It is a type-

script fifty-three pages in length. Most of the manuscript is printed here, but certain portions

are not included, such as some minor anecdotes and the details of the 1932 governors'

conference in Richmond, Virginia.