Interview SummaryJudy Whittlesey, a former staffer to Joan Mondale, begins the interview by describing her personal background and career in public relations. Whittlesey remembers when she first met Bess Abell, who was also working in Joan Mondale's office. The atmosphere that Bess Abell created in Second Lady Joan Mondale's office is detailed. Whittlesey reflects upon her encounters with the Mondale children as teenagers. Whittlesey describes her work with the Carter administration and her travels to Iowa and Africa in that capacity. The transition period between the Carter and Reagan administrations is recalled. Whittlesey articulates Bess' role in key Carter White House events and promoting the arts with Joan Mondale. Important events in 1980 are detailed, including the presidential campaign and the Summer Olympics. Whittlesey considers how important political events affected her work in Joan Mondale's office. Whittlesey talks of her work for the Mondales after the vice presidency. Whittlesey describes her contact with Joan Mondale during her final years. Bess Abell's eulogies at the two funerals of Joan Mondale are remembered. Bess' role in the decoration of Joan Mondale's office is considered. The lives of several former Joan Mondale staffers are explored. Whittlesey recalls the transition period between Second Ladies in 1980, in which Barbara Bush succeeded Joan Mondale. Whittlesey also considers the specific ways in which Bess Abell helped Joan Mondale. Additionally, the decision by Joan Mondale to furnish the vice president's residence with pieces by American craft artists is explored. Whittlesey explains how Bess Abell helped to launch her career in public relations. Whittlesey talks of how the Washington, D.C. social circles inhabited by Bess and Joan often intersected. Recent renovations to the Old Executive Office Building are briefly mentioned. Potential people to interview for this project are listed. Bess Abell's work in refurbishing and supporting two important horticultural institutions in D.C. (the United States Botanical Garden and the National Arboretum) is discussed. Whittlesey concludes the interview by discussing the important role of Secret Service agents for Bess Abell and Joan Mondale.
Interview RightsAll rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interview UsageInterviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Add this interview to your cart in order to begin the process of requesting access to a copy of and/or permission to reproduce interview(s).
Whittlesey, Judith H. Interview by Brien Williams. 07 Jul. 2018. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Whittlesey, J.H. (2018, July 07). Interview by B. Williams. Bess Abell Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Whittlesey, Judith H., interview by Brien Williams. July 07, 2018, Bess Abell Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.
If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.
Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7fbx2znfkj6