So the next installment of this First Ladies series that CSPAN is doing was Abigail Adams. First, you'll notice you can watch this if you missed it (I'm DVRing them all...expect a weekly post on my commentary....) and you will notice how much cool stuff there is on this site - a great teaching resource! Also you can "watch" ahead, but the program is live on Mondays...so I'm guessing the ones after Abigail aren't finished yet. Just what they already have (the taped bits from historical sites they visit).
So my comments on this. I know a boatload about Abigail Adams (probably high on my list of favorites and the ones I know the best) and have read a lot of biographies of her and John Adams (my latest was First Family). While there was a lot of good information on this, I didn't really learn anything new where I had from the Martha episode. I also found Edith Gelles to be very defensive of Abigail and almost too quick to jump to her defense. Abigail was an awesome person and deserves great respect, but she was a human and had faults - that's okay, in my opinion. Gelles seemed to want to gloss over anything that might make Abigail look bad and really pushed that. One of her big issues were the commentary on Abigail as a mother. Was a Abigail a bad mother? I don't think so, but she was also wasn't a perfect mother, and I think Gelles almost wanted the viewers to believe that. Early in the show, she really glosses over the alcohol problems of Charles, but they do go back to that talk about how it was an issue in the family. I found the other panelist. Jim Taylor, to be less biased, but he also is obviously more of an Abigail and John historian whereas Gelles is an Abigail historian.
I also felt they needed another 90 minutes as much of the information was too brief, but very good as teaching tool.