Arkansas First Lady "Billie" Robinson, 1913

Old State House Museum - Wednesday, September 09, 2015

On this day in 1912, Ewilda Gertrude Miller Robinson became First-Lady-Elect of Arkansas. Her husband Joseph “Joe” T. Robinson won the Arkansas governor’s election, launching one of the most storied Arkansas political careers of the twentieth century. Originally from Lonoke, “Billie” was not first lady for long, since Joe Robinson won a US Senate seat less than two weeks after his inauguration as governor.

Billie spent the next two and a half decades as a world traveler, associating with figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joe T. Robinson's close friend. After her husband died in 1937, Billie served as postmistress for Little Rock for fifteen years.

Mrs. Robinson’s gown is cream-colored and made of lace and silk brocade. A lace bertha collar trimmed in beads and crystals frames the neckline. Chiffon rosebuds adorn the top of each shoulder. The sleeveless bodice has a natural waistline with a sash belt trimmed in crystals and beads. The flared skirt is draped in the back and features a train. The front hemline is raised and exposes a straight underskirt of white satin and chiffon trimmed in crystal, silver, and bugle beads.

In the lead-up to the First Ladies’ Lunch on Tuesday, October 6, we will feature the gowns on our blog at To buy tickets to the First Ladies’ lunch and help to preserve the Old State House’s collection of gowns, please contact Sammye Johnston at (501) 664-1879 or [email protected]