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“Dolley Madison” Documentary Features UCR Historian

“Dolley Madison” Documentary Features UCR Historian

Catherine Allgor, author of “A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation,” appears on "American Experience" program March 1.

(February 9, 2010)

Actress Eve Best as Dolley MadisonEnlarge

Actress Eve Best as Dolley Madison

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Most Americans know Dolley Madison as the first lady who saved the portrait of George Washington as the British marched on Washington City in 1814, eventually setting fire to the White House. It was Madison, however, who contributed greatly to creating a sense of nationality and unity in the fledgling United States, says Catherine Allgor, professor of history and UC Presidential Chair.

Allgor is one of several historians and authors who appear in a documentary, “Dolley Madison,” which premieres March 1 on PBS’s “American Experience.” The 90-minute film, produced by tpt National Productions in association with Middlemarch Films, examines the life of the woman who defined the role of the president’s wife and became known as America’s first “first lady.” The film was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS and “American Experience.” Check local listings for air times.

The Center for Ideas and Society will host a sneak preview of the documentary on Thursday, Feb. 25, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Interdisciplinary 1128. A reception and question-and-answer session with Allgor will follow in Interdisciplinary 1111.

Madison used the social world to bring political enemies together during one of the most bitterly divided periods in Washington, Allgor said. “They learned to work together in bipartisan ways – ways that, it turns out, were absolutely necessary for building a democracy.”

Allgor is the author of “A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation” (Henry Holt and Company, 2006).

Also appearing in the documentary are Cokie Roberts, author of “Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation” (HarperCollins, 2004); presidential historian Richard Norton Smith; Carl Anthony, consulting historian to the National First Ladies Library; and Carol Berkin, author of “Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence” (Knopf, 2005).

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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