MS - 071: Mamie Eisenhower Letters
Correspondence of Mamie Eisenhower to the McCrackens
Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower was born on November 14, 1896 in Boone, Iowa to John and Elivera Doud. Her family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa shortly after her birth and then to Pueblo and Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1905, the family again moved to Denver, where her family lived until 1960. Mamie attended public schools in Denver and then went to an elite finishing school.
Mamie met Dwight David Eisenhower in 1915 while spending the winter at her family's home in San Antonio, Texas. Eisenhower was posted at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and the two were introduced by a mutual friend. They began seeing each other immediately, were engaged within months, and married on July 1, 1916. Because of Ike's military career, the couple moved frequently. Mamie estimated that she lived in thirty-seven different houses in her life. The Eisenhower's first lived in Fort Sam Houston, but then the couple moved to Gettysburg where Eisenhower commanded Camp Colt, a World War One training camp located on the battlefield. During the summer the couple lived in the Alpha Tao Omega fraternity house on Washington Street, and when the college was in session, they lived in a home on Spring Street.
After living in Gettysburg, Eisenhower was transferred to Camp Meade in Maryland and then to Camp Gaillard in the Panama Canal Zone. Mamie found it difficult to live in the climate of Panama and became ill. Eisenhower was stationed in Panama from 1921-1924, during which time Mamie alternated living with him and living in Colorado with her parents. Eisenhower had various appointments in the United States during the 1920s, although the couple did live in Paris for a time when Eisenhower was assigned to revise World War One monuments in Europe. Mamie also lived with Eisenhower in the Philippines from 1936-1941.
When Ike was overseas in World War Two, Mamie lived in Washington, DC and saw her husband only once from 1942 to 1945. During the war, Mamie refused to attend parties and spent most of her time participating in volunteer work for the war effort. After the war, the couple lived in Washington, New York, and in Paris as Eisenhower changed assignments.
When Eisenhower campaigned for president in 1952 and again in 1956, Mamie traveled with him but rarely gave speeches, preferring instead that her husband be in the limelight. During Eisenhower's years in the White House (1953-1961), Mamie was known as a gracious First Lady and thoughtful host. She always remembered the birthdays of the staff members, and she often personally responded to letters sent to her by the public.
After the Eisenhowers left the White House, they lived on their farm in Gettysburg that they had purchased in 1949. Mamie was at Eisenhower's side when he died in 1969 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC. After his death, Mamie continued to live in Gettysburg. She traveled to see family and friends frequently and helped to support both the Eisenhower Medical Center and Eisenhower College. She also spent the winters in Georgia and California.
Mamie remained active until the end of her life, and she died in Walter Reed Hospital on November 1, 1979 following a stroke, although she suffered from various health problems throughout the late 1970s.
Mamie and Ike had two children together, Doud Dwight, known as Icky, and John Sheldon Doud. Icky was born in November 24, 1917 and died on January 2, 1921 from scarlet fever. Icky's death was a deep blow to both Mamie and Ike, who refused to speak about Icky or his death. John Sheldon was born on August 3, 1922 and married Barbara Jean Thompson in 1947. They had four children together, Dwight David II, Barbara Anne, Susan Elaine, and Mary Jean.
Scope and Content:
This collection primarily consists of the letters of Mamie Eisenhower to her friends, Dr. J. Holt McCracken and his wife Vivien of California from 1961-1979. Also included are miscellaneous photographs and newspaper articles. The collection does not contain any information on Mamie prior to 1961 or contain references to her years as First Lady.
Series I: Correspondence to the McCrackens
This series contains the personal correspondence of Mamie Eisenhower to the McCrackens from 1961 until 1979.
Series II: Miscellaneous
This series includes miscellaneous photographs, correspondence, and newspaper articles.