Collection Facts

Extent: 
39 items
Dates of Original: 
c. 1884-1922
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston was born on July 21, 1864 in Buffalo, New York. Frances Folsom graduated from Central High School in Buffalo and attended Wells College in Aurora, New York. During her senior year at Wells College, Frances Folsom received a letter from President Grover Cleveland asking her to marry. Frances accepted and married him at the age of 21 on June 2, 1886 at the White House. Frances became the youngest First Lady and took over the duties of hostess in the White House. Grover Cleveland lost the 1888 presidential election, but won again in 1892. Upon the post-presidential period, Frances became a widow after her husband’s death in 1908. Frances moved to Princeton, New Jersey and met Thoms Preston. Frances moved back to Aurora, New York along with Thomas, whom she married in February of 1913. Frances Cleveland Preston served as a trustee member at Wells College during the second decade of the 20th century. During the Great Depression, Frances helped lead the Needlework Guild of America and raised clothing drives for the poor. Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston passed away in Baltimore on October 29, 1947 and was buried next to her first husband, Grover Cleveland in Princeton, New Jersey.

Scope of Collection

The Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston Collection covers three periods of the life of the famed Wells alumna. The years of 1884 to 1885 cover Frances’ attendance at Wells College as a student. The second covers her life as a newly wedded First Lady of President Grover Cleveland from 1886 until the early twentieth century. The third part of the collection covers Frances’ departure from the White House to her return to Aurora, New York in 1913, when she married Thomas Preston, who taught at Princeton University before teaching at Wells College. The collection also contains portraits, articles, and photographs of the commemoration after her death in 1947.