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In Conversation with Melissa Estes Blair

September 7, 2023 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm


We are so excited to welcome Auburn University professor Melissa Blair for an In Conversation event celebrating her latest book, Bringing Home the White House: The Hidden History of Women Who Shaped the Presidency in the Twentieth Century.


In Bringing Home the White House, Melissa introduces us to five fascinating yet largely unheralded women who were at the heart of campaigns to elect and reelect some of our most beloved presidents. By examining the roles of these political strategists in affecting the outcome of presidential elections, Blair sheds light on their historical importance and the relevance of their individual influence.

In the middle decades of the twentieth century both major political parties had Women’s Divisions. The leaders of these divisions—five women who held the job from 1932 until 1958—organized tens of thousands of women all over the country, turning them into the “saleswomen for the party” by providing them with talking points, fliers, and other material they needed to strike up political conversations with their friends and neighbors. The leaders of the Women’s Divisions also produced a huge portion of the media used by the campaigns—over 90 percent of all print material in the 1930s—and were close advisors of the presidents of both parties.

In spite of their importance, these women and their work have been left out of the narratives of midcentury America. In telling the story of these five West Wing women, Blair reveals the ways that women were central to American politics from the depths of the Great Depression to the height of the Cold War.


Melissa teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in U.S. women’s history, as well as undergraduate courses on twentieth-century grassroots politics and the senior thesis course for history majors. Melissa’s research focuses on women and politics in the United State in the twentieth century, and she supervises graduate students working on U.S women’s history in any time period, and serves on graduate committees for a variety of twentieth-century U.S. and Southern history topics. Prior to joining the Auburn faculty in 2015, she taught for six years at Warren Wilson College, a small liberal arts college in North Carolina.


Bringing Home the White House is a revelation. The story of midcentury party politics usually focuses on powerful men in smoke-filled rooms. But in this vital new book, Melissa Estes Blair has recovered the remarkable stories of the powerful women who, at a time when the ideal woman stayed at home, transformed the parties and the presidency.

—Nicole Hemmer, director of the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Center for the Study of the Presidency, Vanderbilt University

Melissa Estes Blair writes with confidence, clarity, and great insight about women who worked with varying degrees of success to carve places for professional political women in the RNC and DNC. An important story told with great sensitivity.

—Karissa Haugeberg, coeditor of Women’s America: Refocusing the Past


September 7, 2023
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers
149 E. Magnolia Ave., Suite A
Auburn, AL 36830 United States