Hillary Rodham Clinton - Her Time As Arkansas' First Lady

Hillary Clinton
Monica Schipper / Stringer / Getty Images

A Very, Very Brief History Of Early Life:

Hillary Diane Rodham was born in 1947 in Chicago, Il, but spent most of her childhood in Park Ridge, Il.

Even as a young adult, she was making a name for herself. She attended Wellesley College and was the first student to speak at their commencement address. She wrote a controversial senior thesis that was suppressed while Bill Clinton was in the White House.

She attended law school at Yale where she met Bill Clinton in a civil liberties class in 1970. After several failed proposals, she finally agreed to marry him after Bill bought a home in Fayetteville (Source: Marry Me!) and the two were married in 1975.

Early Arkansas:

In 1976, Bill Clinton was elected as Attorney General of Arkansas. The couple moved to Little Rock. Hillary joined what is now the Rose Law Firm in 1977. She was the first woman partner of that firm by 1979.

In 1977, she founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. This non-profit organization was founded to research, educate on and rethink children’s issues.

Hillary became the first lady of Arkansas in 1979 following Bill Clinton's election to governor in 1978. During her 12 years as the first lady, Hillary continued to work as an attorney at Rose Law Firm. She gave birth to Chelsea Clinton in 1980.

Arkansas' First Lady - 1979–1981, 1983–1992:

On top of work and a new family, she continued to serve the public as the first lady.

Some of her activities included chairing the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, continuing work with Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and serving on the boards of the Arkansas Children's Hospital Legal Services and the Children's Defense Fund. She was also a member of the corporate board of directors for TCBY, Wal-Mart, and Lafarge.

From 1987 to 1991 she chaired the American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession.

Arkansas Educational Standards Committee - Chair 1983 until 1992:

Clinton fought for teacher raises and mandatory competency tests for new and working teachers while chairing of this committee. She was behind the effort to develop the state’s first set of statewide curricular standards in the 1980s.

Critics claim that some of her achievements on the committee were merely cosmetic and teacher standards were artificially lowered when a great number of teacher's failed. However, even her critics will admit that she is a strong supporter of education and children's welfare.

Arkansas' Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth (HIPPY):

This program was championed by Clinton and sent teachers into the homes of underprivileged families to train parents in school preparedness and literacy. This program became a model for other states.

According to Hillary, "HIPPY was designed to bring families, organizations, and communities together regardless of limited financial resources or educational barriers. Through the program, parents learned the importance of talking to and reading to their children.

Today, there are currently 146 HIPPY sites in 25 states and Washington D.C. serving nearly 16,000 children."

Wal-Mart Corporate Board Member - 1986–1992:

Hillary Clinton was elected the first woman board member of Wal-Mart and served from 1986 to 1992. She received criticism later in her political career for serving on the board of the retail giant. She actually pushed for nondiscriminatory hiring practices, especially for women, while she was there. The main criticism is that she did not push against anti-union sentiment and other questionable practices.

Accolades:

Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983
Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984

Books She's Written:

Living History (2004) - An autobiography of her life, including her life with Bill Clinton. The scandal is only briefly touched on in a very safe manner.


An Invitation To The White House: At Home With History (2000) - A lovely photo-filled book of the White House during the Clinton Years.
It Takes A Village (1996) - Hillary's take on raising children in the modern era. While it does naturally contain some of her political views, it's mostly about taking an active role in parenting, which either political party would agree with.

Books About Her:

There have been over 50 books written about Hillary Rodham Clinton. A few include:

My Life by Bill Clinton(05) - Not really about Hillary, but about her husband, this autobiography does give some insight into the couple and their history.
Her Way: The Hopes & Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton - Jeff Gerth(07) - This even-handed book looks at Clinton's past: good and bad.
A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Carl Bernstein(08) - As of writing this, this book has not been released. It promises to be a book "revealing the complex of motivations and machinations behind her extraordinary life."

Sources / Other Reading:

Sources not specifically quoted but used to write this article include: