In Memoriam: Rosalynn Carter, 1927–2023

Rosalynn Carter by Robert Clark Templeton / Pastel on illustration board, 1976 / Donated by Mark, Kevin, and Tim Templeton, sons of the artist / © 1976, Templeton Collection

November 21, 2023 – January 3, 2024
National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC
1st Floor, In Memoriam space

Rosalynn Carter was the first lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In her words, she “grew up three years and three miles apart” from her future husband Jimmy Carter in Plains, Georgia. Seven years into their 1946 marriage, Jimmy Carter left the U.S. Navy to take over his family’s peanut business. Yet the future first lady soon managed much of the operation. She later explained, “Over the years, we became not only friends and lovers, but partners.”

Carter played key roles in her husband’s successful political campaigns, including the presidency. In and out of the White House, she championed the needs of people with mental illness while advocating for causes such as the Equal Rights Amendment, early childhood immunization, the Cambodian refugee crisis, and improved elder care. In 1982, she and President Carter cofounded the Carter Center in Atlanta to promote peace and human rights worldwide. They both received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.