Cynthia A. Kierner Explores the Trials and Triumphs Of "Patsy" Jefferson, Her Widowed Father's Acting First Lady

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For Immediate Release:
May 24, 2013
Contact: Lorenzo Butler
Cynthia A. Kierner Explores the Trials and Triumphs Of "Patsy" Jefferson, Her Widowed Father's Acting First Lady

As the oldest and favorite daughter of Thomas Jefferson, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph was well educated, known on two continents for her grace and sincerity, and often assumed the duties of first lady for her widowed father.

Yet for all her charm and high standing, Patsy Jefferson (1772-1836) was not spared the tedium, frustration, and sorrow experienced by most women of her time.

Biographer Cynthia A. Kierner brings her story to life on Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

Randolph's life story reveals the privileges and limits of celebrity in our nation's early years. Her marriage to Thomas Mann Randolph, member of Congress and governor of Virginia, was troubled. She and her 11 children lived mostly at Monticello, greeting famous guests and debating issues ranging from a woman's place to slavery, religion, and democracy.

Later, after the Randolph family's financial ruin, Patsy became a fixture in Washington society during Andrew Jackson's presidency, showing how some women of that era were able to venture beyond their domestic roles in surprising ways.

Kierner is professor of history at George Mason University and the author of Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello, Scandal at Bizarre: Rumor and Reputation in Jefferson's America, and Beyond the Household: Women's Place in the Early South.

The program is part of the 2013 Beyond the Gowns series on American First Ladies and is made possible by Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Legacy Fund Grants to the Truman Library Institute and to the Kansas City Public Library. Co-sponsored by KCUR's Up to Date.

Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at or call 816.701.3407.


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