Eleanor Rosalynn Carter is an American writer and activist who served as the first lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981 as the wife of President Jimmy Carter. For decades, Carter has been a leading advocate for numerous causes, including mental health.
Carter was born and raised in Plains, Georgia, graduated as salutatorian of Plains High School, and soon after attended Georgia Southwestern College, and graduated in 1946. She became attracted to Jimmy Carter after seeing a picture of him in his Annapolis uniform, and they married in 1946. She helped her husband win the governorship of Georgia in 1970, and decided to focus her attention in the field of mental health when she was that state's First Lady. She campaigned for her husband during his successful bid to become President of the United States in the 1976 election, defeating incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford.
Carter was politically active during her husband's presidency, though declared that she had no intention of being a traditional First Lady. During her husband's administration, Carter supported her husband's public policies as well as his social and personal life. In order to remain fully informed, she sat in on Cabinet meetings at the invitation of the President. She also represented her husband in meetings with domestic and foreign leaders, most notably as an envoy to Latin America in 1977. Carter was cited by her husband as an equal partner. She campaigned for her husband's re-election bid in the 1980 election, which he lost to Republican Ronald Reagan.
Since leaving the White House in 1981, Carter has continued to advocate for mental health and other causes, and has written several books. She and her husband have contributed to the expansion of the nonprofit housing organization Habitat for Humanity. Aged 95, Carter is the second-longest lived First Lady after Bess Truman, and is the longest-married First Lady. She and her husband received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.