Pat Nixon, wife of Richard Nixon (the 37th President of the United States), was the first First Lady to earn a graduate degree. She graduated from the University of Southern California and earned a teacher’s certificate and graduated with enough credits to gain the equivalence of a Master’s degree. Afterwards, she became a teacher, a job she continued to do during the first year of her marriage.
While being the United States First Lady, Nixon realized the difficulties some encountered during their White House tours. She created special tours for those who were visually, hearing and physically impaired, allowing them full access to the rooms. By doing so, Nixon made the White House handicapped-accessible. For non-English speaking vistors, she commissioned brochures and pamphlets to be written in a variety of languages that would cover the various rooms and the history behind the White House.
Among some of her other “firsts” as First Lady include the following:
- In the fashion world she created her own mark by being the first First Lady to wear pants in public.
- During President Nixon’s 1969 trip to South Vietnam, Pat accompanied her husband and in doing so becaming the first First Lady to visit a combat zone.
- At game two of the 1971 World Series, Nixon threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Baltimore Memorial Stadium. This made her the first incumbent First Lady to toss out a baseball for a major league team.
- Finally, at the 1972 Republican National Convention, Nixon addressed the convention. While she was not the first First Lady to do so (Eleanor Roosevelt addressed a party convention during her time), Nixon was however the first Republican First Lady to do so.
Photo and information found at the National First Ladies’ Library website.