MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (July 8, 2021) — Lewis Gould, a retired visiting distinguished professor of history at Monmouth College, has been named the inaugural recipient of an award that recognizes distinguished contributions to research and education about America's first ladies.
The Lewis L Gould Award — which was named for Gould, the Eugene Barker Centennial Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Texas — was announced earlier this month by the First Ladies Association for Research and Education, known as FLARE.
For more than 40 years, Gould has been a pioneer in the study of the wives of America's presidents. In 1982, he was the first to develop a university-level course on the history and legacies of America's first ladies at the University of Texas. Two years later he was the keynote speaker at the first national first ladies conference, convened by First Lady Betty Ford.
FLARE's founding president and first lady scholar, Myra Gutin, said Gould has had "inspiring" influence on the field.
"Dr Gould's pioneering work opened the door to the development of a new discipline - the study of the first lady," she said. "He encouraged and inspired a generation of scholars and others interested in the presidential spouse to research and then share what they had learned with the American public. He has been our guiding light."
Gould has written more than a dozen books, including The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, The Modern American Presidency, American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacies and Lady Bird Johnson and the Environment. The latter book was the first attempt to demonstrate a first lady's substantive impact on American society, rather than simply serving as a biography. In 1998, Gould became the editor for the Modern First Ladies series, published by the University Press of Kansas.
Monmouth College's Hewes Library holds 19 items written by Gould. Part of his collection was donated to the College several years ago and is housed in the archives located in the library.
The award was presented to Gould during a special virtual ceremony last month. FLARE was launched June 21, in partnership with the American University School of Public Affairs.
"The launching of FLARE is a welcome development to all of us who have followed the history of first ladies over the past four decades," said Gould. "Intensive study of these important women can now go forward. I am deeply honored both in the name of the award and the choice of the first recipient."
Among those speaking at the ceremony for Gould was former Monmouth history professor Stacy Cordery, who was mentored by Gould, beginning when she was a student at the University of Texas. One of those scholars inspired by Gould to pursue the study of first ladies, Cordery, who now teaches at Iowa State University, is the bibliographer for the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio.
"Lewis L Gould created the field of first ladies studies," said Cordery, who was a student in Gould's inaugural first ladies class, which she called "the most rewarding class of my life. ... Who knew that first ladies had lived such exciting lives and had achieved so much? Turns out, Dr Gould knew, and he knew because of his own research as a political historian."
Cordery, who switched her major from theatre to history after taking that course, praised Gould for the way he's gone about that research.
"Dr Gould is a collaborative scholar," she said. "He's always willing to share his research and his network, and he encourages the rest of us to do that, as well. I've always valued Dr. Gould's cooperative ethos. It's rare."
Cordery said she wouldn't be the person she is today without Gould's influence.
"I'm just one of many, many people who owe him what is, fundamentally, an unpayable debt of gratitude," she said.
Gould, who lives in retirement in Monmouth, is married to Jeanne Gittings Robeson, a 1960 Monmouth College graduate.
FLARE's mission is to create and sustain a network to promote and publicize research and education about the contributions, lives, impacts, and lasting legacies of US first ladies. FLARE serves as the primary association to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and outreach among scholars, institutions, first ladies' staff, biographers, archivists, journalists, and public historians interested in research and education about the lasting legacies of US first ladies.