This page has information and links to information related to history. See Biographical Research for history of individual people. For specific time periods, places/areas, and/or topics see left-hand side for topics.

First Ladies & Roman Emperors' Wives Introduction

This page provides links and suggested resources that can be used for doing research on first ladies of the United States (wives of the presidents; all years) and wives of Roman emperors during the time period between 30 BC (BCE) and 600 AD (CE).

See related and otherwise relevant information on the United States of America (History) and Roman Republic Web pages. These other pages will help with historical background. It is important to place the woman you are researching in the context of her time.

Reference Books                   Identifying Books                    Indexes & Abstracts                    Web

Reference Books

Reference materials can be an extremely useful resource when conducting research. Depending upon your specific topic, you might consult one at the beginning, middle, or near the end of your research. Generally speaking, though, they are a very good place to start to get background information.

  • American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacy. E176.2 .A44 2001 Reference
  • Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Greek and Roman Women: Notable Women from Sappho to Helena. HQ1136 .L54 2000 Reference
  • The Cambridge Ancient History. 6 vols. in 10 parts. D57 .C252 Reference
  • Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World. HQ1127 .S25 2001 Reference
  • First Ladies: A Biographical Dictionary. E176.2 .S36 2001 Reference
  • First Ladies of the United States: A Biographical Dictionary. E176.2 .W369 2001 Reference
  • The Presidents, First Ladies, and Vice Presidents: White House Biographies, 1789-2001. E176.1 .D56 2001 Reference
  • Chronicle of the Roman Emperors: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial Rome. DG274 .S28 1995 Reference
  • Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. DG270 .B86 1994 Reference
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library. GBRLonline to CSU affiliates.
  • History Reference Online. HRonline to CSU affiliates.
    • Includes, among others, Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World and Women Rulers Throughout the Ages: An Illustrated Guide
  • Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. OEWWHonline to CSU affiliates.

Circulating Titles of Interest (if CSU's copy is checked out, see if there is a copy available in Prospector)

  • Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars. DG203 .B87 2007 Morgan

Identifying Books

Items may be requested from other libraries in Prospector, the Colorado Union Catalog, by Colorado State University affiliates. Do a LC Subject (Subject) search for these terms in the library catalog (and Prospector) to identify books about empresses and first ladies. Also check WorldCat for additional resources:

Be sure to look at subdivisions of these LCSH terms.

Here are some terms that focus on women and wives of Roman emperors and U.S. presidents (note: subject terms with "sources" at the end indicate primary sources).

  • Empresses Rome
  • Empresses Rome Biography
  • Empresses Rome Influence [1 item in Prospector]
  • Emperors Rome
  • Presidents Spouses United States
  • Presidents Spouses United States Anecdotes
  • Presidents Spouses United States Archives
  • Presidents Spouses United States Biography
  • Presidents Spouses United States Biography Dictionaries
  • Presidents Spouses United States Biography Juvenile Literature
  • Presidents Spouses United States Correspondence
  • Presidents Spouses United States History
  • Presidents Spouses United States History 20th Century
  • Presidents Spouses United States Interviews
  • Presidents Spouses United States Language History 20th Century
  • Presidents Spouses United States Quotations
  • Women Biography To 500
  • Women History Chronology
  • Women History To 500
  • Women History To 500 Sources
  • Women Rome
  • Women Rome Biography
  • Women Rome History
  • Women Rome History Sources
  • Women Rome Social Conditions

Look up specific women by name (these are but a selection for the first ladies [right hand side]; although most of the find able Roman empresses):

  • Agrippina Minor 15 59
  • Antonia Augusta 36 B C 37 A D
  • Galla Placidia Empress Ca 386 450
  • Julia Domna, Empress, Consort of Severus, Lucius Septimius,
    Emperor of Rome, d. 217
  • Livia Empress Consort of Augustus Emperor Of Rome
    Ca 58 B C 29 A D
  • Rome History Severans, 193-235
  • Octavia Consort of Nero Emperor of Rome Ca 42 62 *
  • Octavia Wife of Mark Antony D 11 B C*
  • Poppaea Sabina Empress Consort of Nero Emperor Of Rome D 65*
  • Theodora Empress Consort of Justinian I Emperor Of The East D 548
  • Washington Martha 1731 1802
  • Adams Abigail 1744 1818
  • Madison Dolley 1768 1849
  • Adams Louisa Catherine 1775 1852
  • Lincoln Mary Todd 1818 1882
  • Roosevelt, Edith Kermit Carow, 1861-1948
  • Wilson Edith Bolling Galt 1872 1961
  • Roosevelt Eleanor 1884 1962
  • Ford, Betty, 1918-
  • Reagan Nancy 1923
  • Bush, Barbara, 1925-
  • Clinton Hillary Rodham
  • Bush Laura Welch 1946
  • Obama Michelle 1964

*in Prospector, not at CSU.

Indexes & Abstracts

See How to Find Articles in Journals & Magazines for an overview of how to find articles. Indexes listed below would be identified as part of Step 1. See also How to Evaluate Journal Articles.

Print Index

Humanities Index. AI 3 .I495 Reference South 1974-98.

Seach by subject.

CSU Indexes (Databases). Affiliates only.

Some of these resources are useful for only one of the sets of women--Roman or U.S. Others have items of interest to both sets.

Academic Search Premier. Years vary. 

Do a subject search for: Wives; Women; Emperors Rome; Empresses; Presidents' spouses United States. Geographic Terms: Rome; United States. Also look up specific names, search by people: Adams, Abigail, 1744-1818; Obama, Michelle, 1964- . This database has a lot of book reviews.

America: History & Life

Do a subject search for: Presidents' spouses United States and also search specific names as subjects: Madison, Dolley, 1768-1849; Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Digital Dissertations & Theses

Excellent resource for extensive bibliographies. Many recent dissertations (approx. 1997 onward) are full text in the database.

Historical Abstracts

Only one entry for Presidents' spouses United States (on Eleanor Roosevelt). A few entries for Clinton, Hillary Rodham, 1947- in her role as Secretary of State (not as a presidential spouse).

JSTOR. Years vary. 

Articles older than 3-5 years (varies) are all full text. Contemporary vocabulary if vital for success.

Nineteenth (19th) Century Masterfile

We have very few of these items readily available, so plan ahead so you can use InterLibrary Loan when needed. There are many duplicate entries; make sure you do not request the same article twice because multiple articles from the same source (journal/magazine/newspaper) costs the Library additional money to acquire (i.e. individual articles become more expensive the more you request from the same source). Keep in mind that you are searching predominantly 19th century (1800-1899) material; there are a few early 20th century items, but don't expect to find them. You might also check Google Books for older (pre-1923) journals to see if the entire issue is available. Then look within for your specific article(s).

Search by:

  • Mrs.: e.g. Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Adams. While this brings up non-relevant results, it finds a lot of useful ones too.
  • full name: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams
  • wife of president/wives of presidents

Nineteenth (19th) Century U.S. Newspapers.

Full text newspaper articles. Look for specific names. Same search engine as for Times Digital Archive, so opportunity to get British view.

Project Muse

Search, for example:  Web of Science (Arts & Humanities Citation Index).  Just few entries of potential interest. More on Roman empresses than U.S. first ladies.

Primary Sources

See various entries within Summaries, Artifacts, & Documents (Primary Sources) on the United States of America (History) Web page and Web section of the Roman Republic Web page.


This section provides you with online resources regarding First Ladies

National First Ladies Library

See "Research" section for information about first ladies chronologically. Includes biography (some aimed at juvenile audience) visuals, timeline, and lesson plans. Includes quote from most first ladies on the position.

Dolley Madison Digital Exhibit

Full text of letters is not available except to registered viewers; to browse requires registration. Intends to display copies of all her known correspondence, currently complete through 1843 (as of 2/6/12). Search for text, names, dates, topics, or places. The document list and search enables non-registered viewers to identify potential correspondence of interest. CSU Libraries has selected letters in one printed book and two electronic ones.

The First Ladies. The White House.  Set of biographies.

First Ladies at the Smithsonian

Online exhibition of exhibit found at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Gowns and dresses are featured. Also features entertaining, activities, and more.

First Ladies Research. National First Ladies Library.  In chronological order. Biographies and other resources.

This section provides you with online resources regarding Roman Emperors’ Wives

Diotima (Women in the Ancient World). Materials for the Study in Women and Gender in the Ancient World. 

"Diotima serves as an interdisciplinary resource for anyone interested in patterns of gender around the ancient Mediterranean and as a forum for collaboration among instructors who teach courses about women and gender in the ancient world. This site includes course materials, the beginnings of a systematic and searchable bibliography, and links to many on-line resources, including articles, book reviews, databases, and images."

Livius (Articles on Ancient History). 

Search for "empress" (139 results early 2012) or a specific name to find information. Links out to related Web sites.

Women's History Sourcebook. Subset of Internet History Sourcebook Project.  Pulls out primary resource items related to women throughout history.

De imperatoribus Romani (Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families). 

An " encyclopedia on the rulers of the Roman empire from Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) to Constantine XI Palaeologus (1449-1453)." It goes far past the time period of this Web page, but covers all but the first 3-4 years of interest.

The Emperors' Wives and Families. RNG The Roman Numismatic Gallery. 

Link is to coins that feature family members. Alphabetical.

Valeria Messalina (Wife of Claudius). De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. 

Biography of the empress. Identify other biographies (not all links work) on the encyclopedia's Web site via the emperors: The Imperial Index: The Rulers of the Roman Empire: From Augustus to Constantine XI Palaeologus. Read through the emperor's biography to see any wife or wives names and click on the name(s) for a biography. Includes bibliographies and notes.

Ancient Sources

See additional related sources on Roman Republic Web page in the Web, Ancient Sources section.

Rome. The Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. Paul Halsall. Fordham University.  Links to selections on specific topics.

As in all research, be sure to evaluate what you find, be it an article, book, or Web page.

Author Information

Content: Naomi Lederer


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