Over nearly two decades Lady Bird Johnson recorded 47 oral history interviews with historian Michael Gillette and his colleagues at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library.
Released in 2011, these conversations form the heart of Gillette's book Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History, the intimate story of a shy young country girl's transformation into one of America's most effective and admired first ladies.
Gillette discusses Johnson's life and legacy on Thursday, May 9, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
Lady Bird Johnson's odyssey is one of personal and intellectual growth, political and financial ambition, and a shared life with Lyndon Baines Johnson, one of the most complicated, volatile, and powerful presidents of the 20th century.
She was a cautious, conservative young woman who succumbed to an ultimatum to marry a man she had known for less than three months. She ran his congressional office during World War II and transformed a struggling Austin radio station into the foundation of a communications empire.
As a keen observer of the Washington scene during the eventful decades from the 1930s through the 1960s, Lady Bird Johnson shared dramatic accounts of pivotal moments in American history. Her rich verbal portraits bring to life scores of personalities, including first ladies Edith Bolling Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Pat Nixon.
Gillette is former director of the LBJ Presidential Library's oral history program.
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 Kansas City Public Library and the Truman Library Institute. The series is co-sponsored by KCUR's Up to Date.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407.