In his "Collecting Autographs and Manuscripts" (1961, revised 1970 adding Johnson & Nixon)), autograph pioneer Charles Hamilton writes "A few of the First Ladies rank among the most elusive of American autographs. Martha Jefferson, for instance ...Even harder to find, if such is possible, are autographs of Eliza Monroe and Hannah Van Buren ... Rare, also, are the autographs of Caroline Fillmore, Ida McKinley, Ellen Arthur, Rachel Jackson, and Anna Harrison..."

The wives of Jefferson, Van Buren, Arthur, and Jackson each died before their husbands became President. As did Alice Lee Roosevelt who died 17 years before TR became President. Fillmore married his second wife Caroline 5 years after his presidential term ended. In that same chapter, Hamilton reproduces signatures of 36 "First Ladies" including  Jefferson, Jackson, Caroline Fillmore, Arthur, and Mary Lord Harrison (married 3 years after husband's presidency).

Should we also add the past wives of Presidents Ronald Reagan (Jane Wyman), and Donald Trump (Melania Trump, Marla Maples Trump) to a collection of First Ladies?

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Should we also add the past wives of Presidents Ronald Reagan (Jane Wyman), and Donald Trump (Melania Trump, Marla Maples Trump) to a collection of First Ladies?

That'd depend--are you collecting the wives of US Presidents/the mothers of their children are you collecting the First Ladies of the United States?

I understand that you're taking your source's argument to its logical conclusion, but you appear to be doing so with the impression that your source's argument is a given. I wouldn't put his examples in the category of "First Lady" any more than I'd do with yours (which is to say I wouldn't).

"First Lady" is more directly related to the "White House hostess" than to the wife/wives that a President had before or after he took office, and whether or not the "hostess" even belongs in a "First Lady" collection is arguable.

While a case could easily be made that there are historical reasons to collect autographs from the "wives of Presidents" category, such as the ones mentioned by both you & your source, those reasons (and autographs) don't fall under the "First Lady" umbrella.

There's nothing wrong with collecting autographs from the former/future wives of Presidents or collecting autographs from the mothers of the President's children, but if that's what you're doing, then that's what you're doing. Calling it a "First Ladies" collection is intellectually dishonest.

My source, Charles Hamilton, is a pioneer in the field of autograph collecting. Before him, the general public considered collecting autographs as something people do when they meet baseball players and movie stars. I'd like to hear from collectors of First Ladies' autographs. Not someone who collects autographs of former/future wives of Presidents or mothers of the President's children. "Would you want the autograph of Rachel Jackson or Ellen Arthur in your collection?"

 I'd like to hear from collectors of First Ladies' autographs.

You just heard from one such individual.

Not someone who collects autographs of former/future wives of Presidents or mothers of the President's children.

Any person who strictly collects autographs from First Ladies wouldn't, by definition, collect autographs from the individuals you named, as the individuals you named aren't, by definition, First Ladies.

If you wish to limit it as you did in the above quote, then the results of the limitation should be obvious and apparent. The autographs of former/future wives of Presidents or the mothers of their children would be, by definition, in a collection of autographs of those individuals, while a collection of the autographs of the First Ladies would contain only autographs of First Ladies.

"Would you want the autograph of Rachel Jackson or Ellen Arthur in your collection?"

They have as much of a place in a collection of First Ladies as they do in a collection of astronauts. Any collection that holds them is not a collection of First Lady signatures, since those women were never the First Lady.

There is, like I mentioned, a historical value to them & a reason to collect them, but since you insist upon only speaking to strict First Lady collectors who collect only First Ladies and not "autographs of former/future wives of Presidents or mothers of the President's children", then I can tell you on their behalf that the answer is "No".

As I said, the White House hostess is debatable as an addition to a First Lady collection, but, even through that lens, there's no logical debate to be had about the individuals you're naming. They aren't the First Lady by any rational definition, and, thus, their autographs in a First Lady collection would turn that collection into a First Lady + collection.

It'd be one thing if you asked if there's historical value to the signatures of a President's first wife, but, instead, you're asking a question that you could've answered yourself: "If you strictly collect the autographs of First Ladies, do you want a signature in your collection that's not from a First Lady? (Don't answer if you collect other categories that those signatures could fall into, such as Presidents' wives.)"

Merriam-Webster defines "First Lady" as "the wife or hostess of the chief executive of a country or jurisdiction." That would include bachelor Presidents James Buchanan's niece and Grover Cleveland's sister and the many women who acted as Hostess of the White House for widowed Presidents.

Lane's place in a First Lady collection would be due to her performing the duties of the White House hostess, a point that I addressed twice.

In my first message:

"First Lady" is more directly related to the "White House hostess" than to the wife/wives that a President had before or after he took office, and whether or not the "hostess" even belongs in a "First Lady" collection is arguable.

And my second:

As I said, the White House hostess is debatable as an addition to a First Lady collection...

That decision would, as I alluded to, come down to what definition of "First Lady" one was using. The broadest definition, which would encompass the greatest number of people without straying from the spirit of the term, would be "The individual married to the President during his time in office and/or performing the hostess duties at the White House". The narrower definitions would be an offshoot of one of those two branches.

By the broadest definition, Lane qualifies. Same with if you look at the First Lady as an evolution of the hostess role, rather than simply the wife role, as many do.

However, one can't fault a collector for sticking to the simplest definition, which ignores everything except the marital status of the couple during the Presidency. Even today, people debate the definition of the term & what holding it means. 

To each his own.

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