Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Search for Barbara Bush

I volunteer as a docent about twice a month at the National First Ladies’ Library in Canton, OH (I’ve mentioned it before). Last Friday was one of my days. We often get questions during the tours – that’s nothing new. Sometimes I know, sometimes I don’t – I’m always honest if I don’t and tell them where I think they can find out. Or I offer to help them look for it after the tour because we can often find the answer in one of the books we sell in the gift shop (and I’ve read about half of them, which is always helpful). Well, I got one of those questions on Friday. We were upstairs looking at all the First Ladies’ pictures when one gentleman asked me if we had a picture of a young Barbara Bush. This seemed like an easy enough question and I knew we had something by Barbara Bush downstairs. So after the tour, we went looking.

Well, the only book we had was Reflections by Barbara Bush, which is about her life after the White House. No help there. We didn’t have any biographies of either Bush (we have a strange and always changing variety of books in the gift store). And none of the First Ladies’ compilation books we had had anything but the traditional pictures of grandmotherly Barbara Bush. By this point, this was driving me nuts (I have to follow up any quest – forgetting it is impossible for me). I had to find something. So we called over the actual library for help and started doing some Internet searches while we waited to hear back from them. Barbara Bush did not just appear with gray hair!

I had a feeling the Bush Presidential Library would be our best bet, but we could not find anything from the main page, so we had to turn to search engines. These of course gave us a lot of false links to the younger Barbara Bush (the current President’s daughter rather than his mother). But we found some hidden at the Bush Presidential Library! Then of course, as soon as we found those, the library called back with a book. So our visitors got to see the online pictures plus go over and peruse the book. They were quite happy and I felt satisfied.

In any case, since I did all that work, I thought I would share some pictures of Barbara Bush with you that you may not have seen in the past. As I guessed, she did not appear with gray hair! She was a very lovely young woman.

From the Bush Presidential Library’s online photo collection:
Barbara Bush as a teenager
George and Barbara Bush on their wedding day

George and Barbara Bush on their honeymoon

It is amazing when you start looking how much of the information available to us is the same. The same pictures, similar text and similar stories…there is a lot of diverse information out there, but it often takes time to find it!

I think this is also an interesting commentary on image as well. Barbara Bush has always given off a grandmotherly image. When we were seaching for these, we were discussing whether or not she had ever released any early pictures - as they don't really go with her "image." While First Lady, the image we saw of a sweet grandmotherly woman was what we were supposed to see and that is the one we remember. That does not necessarily meant that is all there is to know! Barbara Bush is really a fascinating woman. You can see one of my earlier posts to read some of her quotes and speeches.

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