Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947

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Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland became the youngest First Lady at age 21 as the first woman to marry a president in the White House. She served as the 23rd and 25th First Lady of the United States while married to President Grover Cleveland.

“I detest him so much that I don’t even think his wife is beautiful.” So spoke one of President Grover Cleveland’s political foes–the only person, it seems, to deny the loveliness of this notable First Lady, first bride of a President to be married in the White House.

She was born in Buffalo, New York, the only surviving only child of Emma C. Harmon and Oscar Folsom, a law partner of her future husband. As a devoted family friend, Grover Cleveland bought “Frank” her first baby carriage. As administrator of the Folsom estate after his partner’s death, though never her legal guardian, he guided her education with sound advice. When Frances entered Wells College, he asked Mrs. Folsom’s permission to correspond with her, and he kept her room bright with flowers. Though Frank and her mother missed his inauguration in 1885, they visited him at the White House that spring. There affection turned into romance–despite 27 years’ difference in age–and there the wedding took place on June 2, 1886.

Cleveland’s scholarly sister Rose Elizabeth Cleveland: her bachelor brother’s hostess in 15 months of his first term of office. Rose gladly gave up the duties of hostess for her own career in education; and with a bride as First Lady, state entertainments took on a new interest. Mrs. Cleveland’s unaffected charm won her immediate popularity. She held two receptions a week–one on Saturday afternoons, when women with jobs were free to come.

After the President’s defeat in 1888, the Clevelands lived in New York City, where baby Ruth was born. With his unprecedented re-election, the First Lady returned to the White House as if she had been gone but a day. Through the political storms of this term she always kept her place in public favor. People took keen interest in the birth of Esther at the mansion in 1893, and of Marion in 1895. When the family left the White House, Mrs. Cleveland had become one of the most popular women ever to serve as hostess for the nation.

She bore two sons while the Clevelands lived in Princeton, New Jersey, and was at her husband’s side when he died at their home, “Westland,” in 1908. In 1913 she married Thomas J. Preston, Jr., a professor of archeology, and remained a figure of note in the Princeton community until she died. She had reached her 84th year-nearly the age at which the venerable Mrs. Polk had welcomed her and her husband on a Presidential visit to the South, and chatted of changes in White House life from bygone days.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. Letter, n.d. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn Gilder, Richard Watson, 1844-1909. Letters, 1887-1904, to Helen Fairchild Smith. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Burton Norvell Harrison family papers, 1812-1926, (bulk 1913-1921) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888. Additional correspondence, 1787-1886 Houghton Library
referencedIn Samuel Gray Ward and Anna Hazard Barker Ward papers, 1823-1934 (inclusive) 1837-1900 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Smith family. Papers, 1667-1960. New Jersey Historical Society Library
creatorOf O'Brien, Robert Lincoln, 1865-1955. Correspondence. 1906-1918. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Gilder, Richard Watson, 1844-1909. Papers, 1781-1984. Indiana University
referencedIn Dall, Caroline Wells Healey, 1822-1912. Papers of Caroline Wells Healey Dall, 1811-1917. Library of Congress
referencedIn Cleveland, Francis G. (Francis Grover), 1903-. Grover Cleveland, U.S. President collection, 1885-1935. New Jersey Historical Society Library
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom (afterwards Mrs. Preston), 1864-. Autograph copy of President Cleveland's speech delivered in Philadelphia, Jan. 8, 1891. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. Frances F. Cleveland Preston letter to Mrs. Charles S. Fairchild, 1922. New-York Historical Society Library
referencedIn Robert McNutt McElroy Papers, circa 1909-1924, (bulk 1913-1924) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn McElroy, Robert McNutt, 1872-1959. Papers of Robert McNutt McElroy, circa 1909-1924 (bulk 1913-1924). Library of Congress
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. [Autographed card from the Executive Mansion] University of North Texas Library, UNT
referencedIn President's Official Files (Roosevelt Administration), 1933 - 1945. Franklin D. Roosevelt President's Official Files, 1933 - 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
referencedIn Hyde family papers, 1863-1957. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Charles S. Hamlin Papers, 1869-1968, (bulk 1880-1938) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908. Letters to William E. Russell, 1889-1897. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston. Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston letters, 1888-1940. New York State Historical Documents
creatorOf Williams, Micajah Terrell, 1792-1844. Papers, 1741,1802-1906. Library of Congress
referencedIn Harmon, Isabel F. Mrs. Grover Cleveland (Frances Folsom) : typescript, 1949 Dec. 14. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Buckingham, Harry, 1869-1956. Harry Buckingham photograph collection, 1881-1942. Museum of the Great Plains
referencedIn Smith, Helen Fairchild, 1837-1926. Papers of Helen Fairchild Smith, 1887-1925. Library of Congress
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. Frances Folsom Cleveland ALS: Washington, D.C., to Mrs. William N. Smith, 1893 Nov. 23. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. Frances Benjamin Johnston papers, 1855-1956 (bulk 1890-1945). Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn William Roscoe Thayer papers, 1762-1927 (bulk 1872-1921) Houghton Library
creatorOf Gilder, Jeannette L. (Jeannette Leonard), 1849-1916. Papers: 1879-1909. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Letters from various correspondents, 1869-1942. Houghton Library
contributorOf Bess W. Truman Papers. 1889 - 1983. Correspondence Files, 1945-1953 Harry S. Truman Library
referencedIn Harrison, Burton Norvell, 1838-1904. Burton Norvell Harrison family papers, 1812-1926 (bulk 1913-1921). Library of Congress
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library
referencedIn Manning, Daniel, 1831-1887. Papers of Daniel and Mary Margaretta Manning, 1885-1921. Library of Congress
referencedIn Hamlin, Charles S. (Charles Sumner), 1861-1938. Charles S. Hamlin papers, 1869-1968 (bulk 1880-1938). Library of Congress
creatorOf Goodyear, A. Conger (Anson Conger), 1877-1964. Papers, 1683-1964 (bulk 1885-1964). Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Charles Moore Papers, 1848-1944, (bulk 1900-1937) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Notman Photograph Company (Boston, Mass.).,. Mugwump group [photographs], 1884-1886. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Newbold, John L. Autograph collection of John L. Newbold, undated. Library of Congress
creatorOf Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908. Correspondence. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn William James Jr. papers, 1857-1960 (inclusive), 1911-1959 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Bede, J. Adam (James Adam), 1856-1942. Autograph letter signed J. Adam Bede to: "Dear Mr. Fullerton" August 20, 1925. Wellesley College
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. Letter, 1903 March 16. American Periodical Series I
creatorOf Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848. Autographs and signatures of Presidents of the United States, 1828-1927. Brown University, Brown University Library
referencedIn Johnson, Martha Waller. Papers, 1864-1926. Virginia Historical Society Library
referencedIn William Williams Keen's Material Related to the Operation of President Cleveland, 1893, 1905, 1915-1918 College of Physicians Historical Medical Library
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. [Letter] 1911 March 10 [to] Mr. Harold G. Rugg. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Eggleston, Edward, 1837-1902. Papers of Edward Eggleston [manuscript], 1867-1900. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Lucretia Rudolph Garfield Papers, 1807-1958, (bulk 1844-1918) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Needlework Guild of America. Saint Paul Branch. Guild records, 1920-1962. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
referencedIn Hanks family. Papers, 1796-1959. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908. Letters : New York, N.Y., to G.F. Spinney, 1890-1893. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Frances Benjamin Johnston Papers, 1855-1956, (bulk 1890-1945) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. Letter and note : to G. Barrett Rich, 1895-1896. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Ribbon honoring Frances F. Cleveland, ca.1886. Winterthur Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Richard Porson Paddison Papers, 1791-1945 East Carolina University, Joyner Library
creatorOf Rice, William Gorham, 1856-1945. Papers, 1841-1937. American Periodical Series I
referencedIn Walker, Mary Edwards, 1832-1919. Mary Edwards Walker Papers, 1799-1919 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Records of the First Lady's Office (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001. Michael O'Mary's Files, 1998 - 1998 William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
referencedIn Henry L. Dawes Papers, 1833-1933, bulk 1833-1903 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn MacVeagh family. MacVeagh family papers, 1831-1950, bulk 1851-1917. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Hyde family. Hyde family papers, 1863-1957. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Evans family. Evans family papers, 1866-1918. University of Michigan
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. Frances Folsom Cleveland letters, 1888-1900. Detroit Public Library, Detroit Main Library
creatorOf SIGNATURES OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA from George Washington to Dwight David Eisenhower, often with those of their wives, mostly cut from letters and documents; 1776-aft. 1952. Lacks the signature of Calvin Coolidge but includes (f... British Library
referencedIn Keen, William W. (William Williams), b. 1837. William Williams Keen's material related to the operation of President Cleveland, 1893-1918. College of Physicians of Philadelphia
creatorOf Evans family. Papers, 1866-1918. University of Michigan
referencedIn Nevins, Allan, 1890-1971. Papers, 1912-1992. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Robert Haven Schauffler Correspondence, TXRC96-A17., 1872-1964 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Thomas Bailey Aldrich papers, 1837-1926. Houghton Library
creatorOf Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947. Letter to Mr. Johnson, 1912 July 9. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908. Grover Cleveland Collection, 1879-1984 Princeton University Library
creatorOf Schauffler, Robert Haven, 1879-1964. Correspondence, 1872-1964. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Allan Nevins Papers, 1912-1992 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
creatorOf Gilder, Jeannette L. (Jeannette Leonard), 1849-1916. Papers of Jeannette L. Gilder [manuscript], 1879-1909. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Sinnickson, Robert, b. 1827. Acme : manuscript poem, 1886. Library of Congress
referencedIn Records of the National Park Service, 1785 - 2006. National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 - 2017 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 1836-1907 person
associatedWith Bede, J. Adam (James Adam), 1856-1942. person
associatedWith Buckingham, Harry, 1869-1956. person
associatedWith Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888 person
parentOf Cleveland, Francis G. (Francis Grover), 1903- person
spouseOf Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908. person
spouseOf Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908. person
correspondedWith Dall, Caroline Wells Healey, 1822-1912. person
correspondedWith Dawes, Henry L. (Henry Laurens), 1816-1903 person
associatedWith Dickinson, Don M. person
associatedWith Dickinson, Frances Platt. person
associatedWith Eggleston, Edward, 1837-1902. person
associatedWith Evans family. family
associatedWith Evans family. family
associatedWith Fairchild, Charles S. (Charles Stebbins), 1842-1924, Mrs. person
associatedWith Folsom family. family
correspondedWith Garfield, Lucretia Rudolph, 1832-1918 person
associatedWith Gilder, Jeannette L. (Jeannette Leonard), 1849-1916. person
associatedWith Gilder, Richard Watson, 1844-1909. person
associatedWith Goodyear, A. Conger (Anson Conger), 1877-1964. person
correspondedWith Hamlin, Charles S. (Charles Sumner), 1861-1938. person
associatedWith Hanks family. family
associatedWith Harmon, Isabel F. person
correspondedWith Harrison, Burton Norvell, 1838-1904. person
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
correspondedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Hyde family. family
correspondedWith James, William, 1882-1961 person
associatedWith Johnson, Martha Waller. person
associatedWith Johnson, Robert Underwood, 1853-1937, person
correspondedWith Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. person
correspondedWith Johnston, Francis Benjamin, 1864-1852 person
associatedWith Keen, William W. (William Williams), b. 1837. person
associatedWith Library of Congress. corporateBody
associatedWith MacVeagh family. family
associatedWith Manning, Daniel, 1831-1887. person
associatedWith McElroy, Robert McNutt, 1872-1959. person
correspondedWith Moore, Charles, 1855-1942 person
associatedWith Needlework Guild of America. Saint Paul Branch. corporateBody
associatedWith Nevins, Allan, 1890-1971. person
associatedWith Newbold, John L. person
associatedWith O'Brien, Robert Lincoln, 1865-1955. person
associatedWith Paddison, Richard Porson. person
associatedWith Perry, Bliss, 1860-1954 person
associatedWith Rice, William Gorham, 1856-1945. person
associatedWith Rich, G. Barrett (Gaius Barrett), 1875-1961. person
associatedWith Rugg, Harold Goddard, 1883-1957. person
associatedWith Schauffler, Robert Haven, 1879-1964 person
associatedWith Sinnickson, Robert, b. 1827. person
correspondedWith Smith family. family
associatedWith Smith, Helen Fairchild, 1837-1926. person
associatedWith Smith, William N. Mrs. person
correspondedWith Thayer, William Roscoe, 1859-1923 person
associatedWith Walker, Mary Edwards, 1832-1919 person
associatedWith Ward, Samuel Gray. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Wells College corporateBody
associatedWith White House (Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Williams, Micajah Terrell, 1792-1844. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York City NY US
Medina NY US
Princeton NJ US
Buzzards Bay MA US
District of Columbia DC US
Buffalo NY US
Baltimore MD US
Subject
President's spouses
Bookplates--Collectors and collecting
Toys
Occupation
Presidents' spouses--United States
Function

Person

Birth 1864-07-21

Death 1947-10-29

Female

Americans

English

Information

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