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Elizabeth Virginia Truman, popularly known as Bess Truman, served as the Second Lady of the United States in 1945 and the First Lady of the United States from 1945 to 1953. She was the wife of U.S. President Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States.
See the fact file below for more information on the Bess Truman or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Bess Truman worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
- Elizabeth Virginia Wallace was born on February 13, 1885 in Independence, Missouri.
- She was the daughter of politician David Willock Wallace and Margaret Elizabeth Gates, who came from a prominent family in Independence.
- She had three younger brothers: Frank Gates, George Porterfield, and David Frederick.
- She had a tomboy reputation when she was a young.
- She was called “Bessie” throughout her childhood years.
- She and her brothers attended local public schools.
- While in elementary school, she met Harry Truman, who took a liking to her from the start.
- After graduating from Independence High School (now known as William Chrisman High School), Bess attended Miss Barstow’s Finishing School for Girls in Kansas City, Missouri.
- In 1903, Nancy’s family dealt with the tragic event of her father committing suicide by shooting himself in the head.
- Nancy’s mother had to depend on her parents for financial help.
- The suicide had a profound effect on Bess. She felt responsible to be with her family and care for her mother, which resulted in her going back to Independence.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
- Harry began to court Bess before he served in the First World War.
- He proposed to her in 1911 but she said no.
- Eight years later, on June 28, 1919, Bess and Harry Truman married at Trinity Episcopal Church in Independence.
- In 1922, after Harry started a business that went bankrupt, he entered politics.
- Bess was reluctant about her husband’s desire to be a politician.
- Harry won a seat as presiding judge of Jackson County, Missouri.
- Bess suffered several miscarriages before giving birth to their only daughter, Margaret, in 1924.
A POLITICIAN’S WIFE
- At the time, wives of politicians kept a low profile and did not play a prominent role in their husbands’ campaigns.
- Bess Truman worked behind the scenes as Harry’s secretary and assistant. She helped him in writing his speeches.
- In 1934, Harry was elected as a Senator from Missouri so the Trumans moved from Missouri to Washington, DC.
- In Washington, Nancy became a member of various clubs: the Congressional Club, the Senate Wives Club, and the PEO Sisterhood.
- She also worked as a clerk in her husband’s staff. She was in charge of answering mail addressed to Senator Truman and editing her husband’s committee reports of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.
FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES
- In 1944, Harry was elected Vice President of the United States, and Bess became more known to the public.
- In April 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of cerebral hemorrhage at age 63, resulting in Harry Truman taking his place and becoming president.
- Bess’ predecessor as first lady was Eleanor Roosevelt, who was known for her social activism. Needless to say, Bess was put in a daunting position.
- However, Bess did not take an active political role as first lady.
- She turned down opportunities to take part in press conferences and would only answer in writing.
- The Trumans were known for being very close-knit.
- President Truman stated that Bess was one of his closest advisers, but their daughter Margaret later wrote that from time to time, her mother felt excluded from Harry’s major decisions.
- By the time the Trumans occupied the White House, the house was in need of major repairs.
- Bess chose to renovate the house instead of constructing a new one, which would have been cheaper.
- While the White House interior was being renovated and reconstructed, the Trumans lived in Blair House and they lived there for three years.
- When the press was given a tour of the newly renovated White House in March 1952, President Truman showed them around.
- As First Lady, Bess served as Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross. She was also the Honorary President of the Girl Scouts, the Washington Animal Rescue League, and the Women’s National Democratic Club.
- In 1953, the Trumans retired to Independence, Missouri where they kept a private family life.
- In 1959, Bess underwent a mastectomy in order for a benign tumor to be removed from her breast. She fully recovered.
- When Medicare was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson signed in 1965, the Trumans were the first senior citizens to receive their Medicare cards, which were presented to them personally by President Johnson at the White House.
- Bess Truman died at age 97 from congestive heart failure.
- She was buried beside her husband at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.
- Her epitaph simply read: “First Lady of the U.S., 1945–1953.”
Bess Truman Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Bess Truman across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Bess Truman worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Elizabeth Virginia Truman, popularly known as Bess Truman, who served as the Second Lady of the United States in 1945 and the First Lady of the United States from 1945 to 1953. She was the wife of U.S. President Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Bess Truman Facts
- Bess’ Biography
- State of Missouri
- When Harry Met Bess
- Timeline Completion
- Describing Bess Truman
- President Truman
- Agree or Disagree?
- Organization Leader
- First Lady Comparison
- A Poem for Mrs. Truman
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Link will appear as Bess Truman Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 10, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
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