Washington’s Iron Butterfly: Bess Clements Abell

Public | Sep, 6 2023 11:30AM - 1:00PM

Washington’s Iron Butterfly: Bess Clements Abell Book Talk with Donald Ritchie and Luci Baines Johnson

Join us to hear the story of Bess Clements Abell, who served as White House Social Secretary for President and Mrs. Johnson. Her Secret Service code name “Iron Butterfly” exemplified her graceful but firm management of social life in the White House, including planning not only the typical state dinners but two presidential daughters’ weddings.

Donald Ritchie, co-author of Washington’s Iron Butterfly: Bess Clements Abell, An Oral History, and Luci Baines Johnson join us to talk about Bess Abell and tell her remarkable story.


Registration, book sales and signing: 11:30 - Noon 

Discussion: Noon - 1:00 p.m. 

A light lunch will be provided.


The Store at LBJ will sell copies of Washington’s Iron Butterfly onsite before and after the program. Co-author Donald Ritchie will be available to sign copies purchased onsite. You may also purchase a copy of Washington’s Iron Butterfly prior to the event and pick it up in the store beforehand. 

Donald A. Ritchie is historian emeritus of the United States Senate. He conducted oral history interviews with former senators and retired members of the Senate staff as part of the Senate oral history project and edited the transcripts of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's investigations. Ritchie has authored several books including Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932, and Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington Correspondents, which won the Richard W. Leopold Prize of the Organization of American Historians. 

Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, called Bess a “once in a lifetime friend.”  “To me, Bess was wisdom, humor, competence, creativity, loyalty, reliability, and kindness on two feet.”


Free parking will be available in the LBJ Library visitors’ lot located at 2313 Red River Street.

Please register online if you plan to attend.

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