First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is making history as the first president’s wife to keep her day job, Politico reported. She will continue to teach English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College while fulfilling her first lady duties. Biden has previously taught at St. Mark’s High School, Claymont High School, the Rockford Center psychiatric hospital and Delaware Technical Community College. In addition, Biden is a bestselling author.
“Teaching isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am,” Biden has said.
While this is a historic first, Biden isn’t the only first lady to have built up an impressive resume prior to their move to the White House. Here are some of the other first ladies who were career women before assuming their role as a president’s wife.
Abigail Fillmore (1850-1853)
Abigail Fillmore was the first of the first ladies to hold a job after marriage, according to The White House’s official website. She worked as a schoolteacher before serving as the first lady.
Ida McKinley (1897-1901)
Ida McKinley worked as a cashier at her father’s bank, which is where she met her future husband, Maj. William McKinley.
Grace Coolidge (1923-1929)
Before marrying Calvin Coolidge, Grace worked as a teacher at the Clarke School for the Deaf.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis (1961-1963)
Jackie Kennedy Onassis met John F. Kennedy while she was working as an “inquiring photographer” for a local paper in Washington.
‘Lady Bird’ Johnson (1963–1969)
Born Claudia Alta Taylor, “Lady Bird” Johnson helped run her husband’s congressional office.
Pat Nixon (1969-1974)
While attending college at the University of Southern California, Pat Nixon worked as a sales clerk in a department store and as an extra in movies. After graduating, she worked as a high school teacher and later as a government economist.
Betty Ford (1974-1977)
Betty Ford was a professional dancer with Martha Graham’s noted concert group in New York City and also worked as a fashion model for the John Robert Powers firm. Following a stint in New York, Ford returned to her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she worked as a fashion coordinator for a department store and taught dance to handicapped children.
Rosalynn Carter (1977-1981)
Before Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter got involved in politics, they helped run his family’s business in Plains, Georgia. Rosalynn managed the accounts of the peanut, fertilizer and seed enterprise.
Nancy Reagan (1981-1989)
Nancy Reagan was a professional actress before she moved to the White House. She starred on Broadway and later made a transition to the big screen, acting in 11 films from 1949 to 1956.
Hillary Clinton (1993-2001)
After attending law school at Yale, Hillary Clinton went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She later served as a lawyer for the congressional committee investigating President Richard Nixon. Following that, she moved to Arkansas where she taught law and ran legal clinics representing disenfranchised people and co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
Laura Bush (2001-2009)
Laura Bush worked for several years as an elementary school teacher and children’s librarian before marrying George W. Bush. As first lady, she continued to pursue her passions for education and literacy by launching the “Ready to Read, Ready to Learn” education initiative and founding the National Book Festival.
Michelle Obama (2009-2017)
Michelle Obama joined the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin in 1988. It was there that she met Barack Obama, a summer associate she was assigned to advise.
Following her years as a lawyer, she returned to the public sector. Obama was assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall and later the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies. She also served as the associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago and the vice president of community and external affairs at the university’s medical center.
Melania Trump (2017-2021)
Melania Trump was working as a model when she met Donald Trump. She has modeled in Slovenia, Milan, Paris and New York and appeared in a number of magazines, including Sports Illustrated’s famed swimsuit edition, according to Britannica.
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