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Rosalynn Carter, wife of the 39th President of the United States, was the first of four children born to Allethea Murray Smith and Wilburn Edgar Smith. She graduated from high school at the top of her class and earned her B.A. from Georgia Southwestern College in 1946. That same year, she married Jimmy Carter. She had been a close friend of Jimmy's sister, Ruth, and the two had started dating during his summer vacation from the U.S. Naval Academy. After they were married, they moved from place to place while he was an officer in the U.S. Navy. They moved back to Plains, Georgia, when Jimmy took over his family's peanut business. By the time Jimmy Carter became governor of Georgia in 1971, Rosalynn Carter had given birth to four children: John William, James Earl III, Donnel Jeffrey, and Amy Lynn.

Rosalynn Carter was a tireless campaigner for her husband during his successful presidential bid in 1976. Once in the White House, she was one of the most active first ladies to date. Some of her favorite causes were women's rights, mental health, and the needs of the elderly. She served as honorary chairperson of the President's Commission on Mental Health, which resulted in the Mental Health Systems Act. (As first lady of Georgia, she had been appointed to the Governor's Commission to Improve Services for the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped.) She was also an advocate of women's rights and supported the Equal Rights Amendment. She was given an Award of Merit by the National Organization for Women because of this support.

Since leaving the White House, Rosalynn Carter has continued to be active in social causes. She is currently the vice chair of The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She created and chairs the center's Mental Health Task Force. She has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Mental Health and is the president of the board of directors for the Rosalynn Carter Institute of Georgia Southwestern State University. She is also a distinguished fellow at the Emory University Institute for Women's Studies. Rosalynn Carter has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the United States government


1927 She was born in Plains, Georgia (August 18).

1940 Her father died.

1945 She began dating Jimmy Carter.

1946 She graduated from Georgia Southwestern College; she married Jimmy Carter (July 7); her husband became an officer in the U.S. Navy.

1947 She gave birth to John William Carter (July 3).

1950 She gave birth to James Earl Carter III (April 12).

1952 She gave birth to Donnel Jeffrey Carter (August 18).

1953 She and her husband moved back to Plains when he took over his family's peanut business.

1962 Her husband became a Georgia state senator.

1967 She gave birth to Amy Lynn Carter (October 19).

1971 Jimmy Carter became governor of Georgia.

1975 Jimmy Carter's gubernatorial term ended.

1977 She became honorary chairperson of the President's Commission on Mental Health.

1980 The Mental Health Systems Act was passed.

1981 Her husband's presidential term ended.

1983 The Carter Center was founded in Atlanta, Georgia.

1984 Her autobiography, FIRST LADY FROM PLAINS, was published; she was made an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

1987 She co-authored with her husband EVERYTHING TO GAIN: MAKING THE MOST OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.