Betty Ford

First Lady of the United States from 1974 to 1977

Elizabeth Anne Ford (née Bloomer); formerly Warren; (April 8, 1918July 8, 2011) was the first lady of the United States from 1974 to 1977, as the wife of President Gerald Ford. As first lady, she was active in social policy and set a precedent as a politically active presidential spouse.

As the barriers against freedom for Americans because of race or religion have fallen, the freedom of all has expanded. The search for human freedom can never be complete without freedom of women.


  • I told my husband if we have to go to the White House, "Okay, I will go. But I'm going as myself. And it's too late to change my pattern. And if they don't like it, then they'll just have to throw me out."
  • Well, I think a Congressional wife has to be a special kind of woman. I don't think that all women, really, can adjust to this type of life.
  • I think that there are sane women that probably have their husbands around the house more than they'd like. And then there are those that wish their husbands were home more.
  • I have perfect: faith in my husband. But I'm always glad to see him enjoy a pretty girl. And when he stops looking, then I'm going to begin to worry. But right now, he still enjoys a pretty girl. And he really doesn't have time for outside entertainment. Because I keep him busy.
  • I'm not the type that's going to burn my bra or do something like that I really don't feel that strong about it. I feel that the liberated woman is the woman who is happy doing what she's doing, whether it's a job or as a housewife, it doesn't make a bit of difference. Just so she, inwardly, feels that she is happy and that she is liberated.

Speech at Great Cleveland International Women's Year Conference (excerpts) (25 October 1975)


Source:"First Lady Betty Ford's Speech to the Great Cleveland International Women's Year Conference" (25 October 1975)

  • While many new opportunities are open to women, too many are available to the lucky few. Many barriers continue to block the paths of most women, even on the most basic issue of equal pay for equal work, and the contributions of women as wives and mothers continue to be underrated.
  • I do not believe that being First Lady should prevent me from expressing my ideas. I spoke out on this important issue because of my deep personal convictions. Why should my husband's job, or yours, prevent us from being ourselves. Being ladylike does not require silence.
  • Change, by its very nature, is threatening but it is also often productive. And the fight of women to become more productive, accepted human beings is important to all people of either sex and nationality.
  • But changing laws, more job opportunities, less financial discrimination, and more possibilities for the use of our minds and bodies will only partially change the place of women in this country. By themselves, they will never be enough because we must value our own talents before we can expect acceptance from others. The heart of the battle is within.
  • We have to take that "just" out of "just a housewife." We have to show our pride in having the home and family our life's work. Downgrading this work has been part of the pattern in our society that has undervalued women's talents in all areas.
  • We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go, and part of that distance is in our very own mind.
  • The long road to equality rests on achievement of women and men in altering how women are treated in every area of everyday life.
  • Freedom for women to be what they want to be will help complete the circle of freedom America has been striving for 200 years.
  • As the barriers against freedom for Americans because of race or religion have fallen, the freedom of all has expanded. The search for human freedom can never be complete without freedom of women.

Speech at the American Cancer Society (7 November 1975)


Source:First Lady Betty Ford's Remarks to the American Cancer Society (7 November 1975)

  • I feel absolutely marvelous. I just had my annual checkup and all my tests are completely clear. There is no sign whatsoever of a cancerous reoccurrence at this point. I am convinced that I am completely cured.
  • The most difficult moments were trying to pull my family through my cancer operation. I really had to pull them through, and to try to make them happy because they were so sad and upset.
  • Too many women are so afraid of breast cancer that they endanger their lives. These fears of being "less" of a woman are very real, and it is very important to talk about the emotional side effects honestly. They must come out into the open. It was easier for me to accept the operation, because I had been married for 26 years and we had four children. There was no problem of lack of love, affection, and attention. But some women don't have these same emotional resources, and it is very necessary to deal realistically with the fears about breast cancer.
  • Cancer also produces fear -- and much of that fear cots from ignorance about the progress already made and ignorance of the need for preventive medicine for men and women alike. Cancer wherever it strikes the body, also strikes the spirit, and the best doctors in the world cannot cure the spirit. Only love and understanding can accomplish this important role.
  • I believe we are all here to help each other and that our individual lives have patterns and purposes. My illness turned out to have a very special purpose -- helping save other lives, and I am grateful for what I was able to do.
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