Galionites have a unique reason to travel a few miles west on Ohio 309 to Marion this summer. Florence Kling Harding, a former resident of Galion, is one of the highlighted figures at the annual Warren G. Harding Symposium. Scheduled for July 19-20, 2024, this year’s theme, “Taft, Wilson, and Harding: First Ladies of Consequence,” offers an in-depth look into the lives and legacies of some of America’s most influential First Ladies, including Florence herself.

Discover the Legacy of Remarkable First Ladies

This year’s symposium will delve into the lives of Helen Herron “Nellie” Taft, Florence Harding, Ellen Wilson, and Edith Galt Wilson. These First Ladies navigated significant challenges and each left a unique and lasting impact on American history. The event promises to provide valuable insights into their contributions and how they helped shape the nation.

Helen Herron “Nellie” Taft: An Influential Advisor

Helen Herron “Nellie” Taft, wife of President William Howard Taft, was more than just a First Lady; she was a key advisor and confidante to her husband. Her influence extended beyond the domestic sphere, playing a crucial role in many presidential decisions. Nellie Taft also brought a touch of social brilliance to the Taft administration, hosting events and gatherings that solidified the Tafts’ social standing in Washington, D.C.

Ellen Wilson: A Champion for Social Reform

Ellen Wilson, the first wife of President Woodrow Wilson, redefined the role of the First Lady through her dedication to social causes. She was particularly passionate about improving housing conditions for African Americans in Washington, D.C. Ellen’s advocacy and efforts marked a significant departure from the traditional expectations of First Ladies, positioning her as a champion for social reform and equality.

Edith Galt Wilson: The “Secret President”

Edith Galt Wilson, President Woodrow Wilson’s second wife, is often referred to as the “secret president” due to her unprecedented role following her husband’s severe stroke. Edith effectively took on the responsibilities of the Executive Branch, managing presidential duties and safeguarding her husband’s legacy. Her leadership during this critical period underscored her strength and dedication to the nation.

Florence Harding: A Pioneer for Women’s and Veterans’ Rights

Florence Harding, known for her strong will and popularity, significantly influenced her husband, President Warren G. Harding’s business and political careers. As First Lady, Florence Harding was a staunch advocate for the rights of women and veterans. She opened the White House and its grounds to the public, symbolizing transparency and accessibility in government.

Local Connection: Florence Kling Harding and Galion

Florence Kling Harding, one of the First Ladies featured at the upcoming Warren G. Harding Symposium, has a connection to Galion. Before becoming the nation’s First Lady, Florence resided here with her first husband and their infant son. Her early life in Galion set the stage for her future role as a significant political figure and advocate for women’s and veterans’ rights.

The Warren G. Harding Symposium is a collaborative initiative of The Ohio State University at Marion, the Ohio History Connection, and the Harding Presidential Sites. This joint venture aims to bring together scholars, historians, and the public to explore and celebrate the lives of these influential First Ladies.

The symposium will feature presentations from esteemed scholars and historians, providing a comprehensive look at the personal and political lives of these First Ladies. Attendees will gain valuable insights into how these women shaped the presidency and the nation.

Event Dates: July 19-20, 2024
Location: Marion, Ohio
Registration: Visit the symposium’s webpage for complete information and to register. For questions, contact Jodi Somerlot at or call 740-725-6340.