Elizabeth "Bess" Truman (1885-1982) was an American first lady (1945-53) and the wife of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States. An intensely private woman, Bess reluctantly agreed to attend political events with her husband throughout his career. but rarely offered her own opinions on issues, a sharp contrast to her activist predecessor, Eleanor Roosevelt. Though the Trumans were an extremely close family, Bess did not enjoy many of the social aspects of the position, instead preferring to return to her Missouri home as often as possible. Her most significant contribution as first lady was overseeing an extensive structural renovation of the White House, which saved the aging executive mansion from demolition.
More to Explore
Did You Know?
On July 30, 1965, Harry and Bess Truman attended the bill-signing ceremony that established the Medicare program. The Trumans were the special guests of President Lyndon Johnson, who enrolled them as the the program's first two benefit recipients.
Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!
This Day in History
Star Wars opens, 1977
On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas' blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American…
Keep up with the latest History shows, online features, special offers and more.Sign up