(27) Helen "Nellie" Herron Taft


Helen “Nellie” Herron Taft 



Death date



William H. Taft

Dates of service


Relationship to president


Other marriages 




First Ladies National Library Biography of Helen Taft

White House History: Helen Taft

Papers/letters collections

Manuscripts for: Helen Taft

William H. Taft Papers Collection

Book: Recollection of Full Years

Historical sites

Recollections of Full Years

Helen Taft: Gravesite

Fascinating details

  • William Taft was told by then President Theodore Roosevelt that he was in line for a position on the Supreme Court, but Helen encouraged him not to take the role, allowing him to later accept his presidential nomination.
  • She made the unprecedented decision to ride back to the White House with President Taft after his inauguration, receiving criticism for adding a new ceremonial role.
  • She suffered a stroke two months after President Taft’s inauguration that impaired her speech to the point of having to relearn how to form sounds. During this time, she relied on her sisters and college-aged daughter to substitute for her during social functions. 
  • Helen Taft employed African American men as ushers for the first time in the White House. 
  • Although, exemplifying disapproval with women’s limited sphere, she refused to take a public stance on women’s suffrage. 
  • She organized the planting of Japanese cherry trees, providing the capital with one of the biggest tourist attractions—the annual spring blossoms.
  • Helen was buried beside her husband in the Arlington National Cemetery; at that time, the only first lady to be buried there.