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Rosalynn Carter’s Life in Photos

Rosalynn Carter, who died on Nov. 19 at the age of 96, was a bridge — between generations, between the quiet simplicity of small-town life and the chaotic arenas of national and international politics, between competing notions of a woman’s place in the home and in the world.

She was a humanitarian who confronted dictators about rights abuses and made a mission of eradicating Guinea worm disease — a parasitic infection that had once seemed intractable but that she and others came remarkably close to eliminating in her lifetime.

She was also a grandmother who kept sending her grandson birthday cards stuffed with $20 bills well into his 40s, and made pimento sandwiches to hand out to family members and even strangers on flights.

In recent days, there has been a cascade of remembrances from relatives, friends and aides, and others who knew Rosalynn Carter only from her legacy. Many remarked on how much the world had changed over the course of her life, and how she had been an agent of that transformation, leveraging her influence as first lady, her own political instincts and her sheer force of will.

Yet her life began and ended dozens of miles from any interstate highway or even a stoplight. For 60 years, home was a modest ranch house just off the main road in Plains, Ga., which she shared with Jimmy Carter, her husband of 77 years.

Here is a selection of photographs reflecting her long and varied life.


Mrs. Carter, born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith, outside her childhood home in Plains, around 1927. Jimmy Carter’s mother helped deliver Rosalynn when she was born. Jimmy and Rosalynn were married in 1946.

Rosalynn and Jimmy at his Atlanta campaign headquarters in 1966, when he was a state senator.

Mrs. Carter combing the hair of her daughter, Amy, at home in Georgia after the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

Mrs. Carter speaking in Nashville in 1976.

The Carters kissing, surrounded by family members at the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City.

The Carters riding down Fifth Avenue in New York in 1976.

Mrs. Carter looking on as her husband was sworn in as president of the United States in 1977.

The Carters dancing at the Inaugural Ball in 1977.

Mrs. Carter cutting a White House cake in Plains after a reception for Jimmy Carter on a trip to their hometown in 1976.

Mrs. Carter planting a Japanese threadleaf maple tree outside the White House in 1978, replacing one of the original trees planted in 1893 by an earlier first lady, Frances Cleveland.

The Carters fishing in 1978.

Mrs. Carter shows table decorations to her 1-year-old granddaughter Sarah in 1979.

President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and his wife, Jehan Sadat, with the Carters at the pyramids during a diplomatic visit in 1979.

The Carters having one of their weekly working lunches in the Oval Office.

Mrs. Carter playing basketball with members of the Harlem Globetrotters outside the White House in 1980.

Mrs. Carter on a flight to Thailand for a five-day tour of Southeast Asia in 1979.

The Carters aboard the Delta Queen, a riverboat, heading down the Mississippi River in 1979.

Mrs. Carter accompanying Pope John Paul II at Logan Airport in Boston in 1979.

Mrs. Carter watching as her husband spoke to townspeople and tourists at a railroad station in Plains in 1980.

The Carters jogging across a frosty field in Plains in 1981.

The Carters at their log cabin in Ellijay, Ga., in 1983.

The Carters at a dedication ceremony for the Carter Center in Atlanta in 1986.

The Carters working on a Habitat for Humanity home in Atlanta in 1988.

The Carters onstage with Willie Nelson at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta in 1982.

The Carters at a book-signing event in San Francisco in 1987.

From left, the former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan and Lady Bird Johnson at the dedication of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas in 1997.

Mrs. Carter outside a church on Sapelo Island, Ga., with local women after a Sunday morning worship service in 1997.

The Carters at the Grand Hotel in Oslo during a torchlight procession before the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s banquet in 2002.

Mrs. Carter calling voters on behalf of her son, Jack Carter, a Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, in Las Vegas in 2006.

The Carters sitting for photographs with congregants after a church service at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains in 2019.

The Carters at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2017, announcing their involvement with a solar energy project that was expected to eventually power more than half of Plains.

The Carters at their home in Plains in 2021.

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