The Smithsonian Museum began exhibiting the clothing of presidential wives in 1914 when Helen Taft -- wife of the 27th president, William Howard Taft, who served from 1909 to 1913 -- donated her inaugural gown.
First Lady dolls commissioned by the Smithsonian: Suzanne Gibson, doll artist.
Smithsonian First Ladies The Smithsonian Institution commissioned Suzanne Gibson to recreate the First Ladies collection exhibited in the First Ladies hall of the National Museum of American History in Washington D. C. Suzanne Gibson, recognized as one of today's leading doll designers, presents her interpretation of the First Ladies' gowns. Her extensive research and attention to details resulted in these faithful recreations of the gowns displayed at the museum. Fabric, colors and prints have been followed as accurately as possible. This collection was originated by Mrs. Rose Gouverneur Hoes and Mrs. Julian James, two Washington women who were interested in the costume collections of the Smithsonian Institution. The first dress was presented by Mrs. William Howard Taft in 1912, during her husband's administration. Donations by former first ladies and their descendants completed the collection. The face of the mannequins at the First Ladies exhibit in Washington is modeled after a bust representing Cornelia, daughter of Shakespeare's King Lear. This bust was made in 1863, by the sculptor, Pierce F. Connelly of Louisiana. Suzanne Gibson's doll face of the First Ladies collection is an interpretation of this bust which reflects a classic sense of elegance and charm. The First Ladies dolls are 12", all in vinyl, with jointed head, arms and legs.