Monday, March 5, 2018



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Andrew Och is the author of “Unusual for Their Time: On the Road with America’s First Ladies” (Volume One & Volume Two).  He is an award-winning television and multimedia producer who has traveled the world with his pen, paper and camera.  A Radio/Television and Film graduate from the University of Maryland, Andrew started his production career in music - recording and touring with his band in the 80s & 90s.  Soon after that he added his camera to the mix, and all the pieces fell into place.  A storyteller from a young age, Andrew enjoys the art of communication, and will go anywhere in the world for more knowledge, greater understanding and amazing stories.  He is a true documentarian of life.

Andrew spent over a year traveling to nearly every location that helped tell the stories of every First Lady of the United States of America for the C-SPAN series – “First Ladies: Influence and Image.”  He covered Martha Washington through Michelle Obama, and visited with people and places all across the country.  From Colonial Williamsburg to Stanford University, he was given an ALL ACCESS – BACKSTAGE PASS to some of the nation’s most treasured collections and historical landmarks.  He spent time in libraries and museums - homes and schools - birthplaces and cemeteries - train stations and churches.  No stone was left unturned, nor door left unlocked, in his unique and historical journey to learn everything he could about these women before, during and after their time in the White House.  His research and travels continue with current First Lady Melania Trump.

Historians, archivists, educators and enthusiasts agree – Och’s books, First Ladies Man project and travels put him in a small and rare group of people.  He is responsible for one of the most vast and complete collections of material and information about this unique sorority of women ever assembled.  He IS the First Ladies Man, and he is excited to share the stories of his adventures.



Winter 2018, Washington DC – After the critically acclaimed success of VOLUME ONE, Andrew Och is back with UNUSUAL FOR THEIR TIME: ON THE ROAD WITH AMERICA’S FIRST LADIES VOLUME TWO.  In VOLUME TWO, Andrew picks up his journey in the 1900’s with Edith Roosevelt and takes us all the way up to the current administration with Melania Trump.  His compelling research and perspective on this unique sorority of women continues to give readers and audiences everywhere a behind the scenes look at some of the rarest and most interesting historical collections and locations in America.

Och concludes, “These are arguably the most influential and powerful unelected women in the world. Their lives before, during and after the White House are fascinating, and their contributions and impact on our country and the modern world are almost immeasurable.” He brings a fresh perspective and a new passion to an often-overlooked subject in American History.

Andrew’s travels had him pinballing across the country from Oyster Bay, Long Island in New York to Simi Valley, California. Och relates, “From trip number one it was clear how important Martha Washington was during the Revolutionary War, and she set the tone for how important the women who followed her would be.” He adds, “Betty Ford revealed herself as one of the most influential First Ladies of all time, and her husband wasn’t even an elected President. There are hidden gems about each of these women at every turn.”

Andrew Och’s extensive travels blend both education and entertainment to highlight one of the most comprehensive historical collections on America’s First Ladies that exists in the world today. A historian, teacher, lecturer and documentarian - he’s often asked: Who was your favorite First Lady? Andrew sums it up by saying, “It’s impossible to pick one. Each woman – whether quietly or with much bluster – has affected her husband’s administration, and thus the world. This is an impact that no other human on Earth could achieve. The world as we know it would be a very different place without any one of these First Ladies.”

Exclusive Interview with the 'First Ladies Man,' and author Andrew Och! 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what drove you to write a book like this? 

I am a television producer from Rockville, MD who has traveled to every home, library, museum, birthplace, cemetery, church, school, farm, plantation and historical site for every First Lady from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama for the C-SPAN series "First Ladies: Influence and Image." When I finished my work for the series, these women - like no other subject matter I had covered - spoke to me. I needed to continue my research and travels. I needed to keep talking and telling people about these great women. The more I spoke publicly about these women, the more people wanted to know. Soon, my speaking series and events weren't enough, and I wrote "Unusual For Their Time: On the Road with America's First Ladies." Volume One covers the 1700 & 1800's (Martha Washington through Ida McKinley), and Volume Two covers the 1900 & 2000's (Edith Roosevelt through Melania Trump). 

The access to some of our country's most valuable and relevant locations, artifacts and collections was not something I took lightly. I am grateful to C-SPAN for the opportunity to have worked on the series and get to know this unique sorority of women like I have. I went on a journey that no one else has taken. Together with the White House Historical Association we have gathered the largest collection of video, interviews and information about these women that exists in the world. I feel a great responsibility to share what I know with as many people as I can beyond the work I did for the series. The books are the stories of America's First Ladies through my eyes and travels and the people who taught me about them along the way. 

Why do you think the First Ladies of America are so unique and special? 

These women are the most powerful and influential unpaid and unelected women in the world. There is no job description or First Ladies 101 class they can take in school. The only training they have is the life they have lived. And, the only reason they have the title and position is that they married a man who became President. These women have the unique opportunity to make their roles and contributions whatever they want or feel is necessary for the country at that time. They influence what we eat, how we dress and how we raise our children. They make us aware of people less fortunate than us, and they represent us to the rest of the world. I write in my books "America wouldn't even be a country if George Washington had not married a young widow named Martha Dandridge Custis." That's how important these women are to the story and the modern world.

Do you have any personal favorite First Lady facts or trivia you'd like to share? 

I always break down my favorite First Ladies by century, with the caveat that all of them are special to me for each of their individual accomplishments and contributions. In the 1700's, Abigail Adams comes to mind. Abigail would be considered a progressive thinker even today. She knew hundreds of years before women had the right to vote - before electricity or televisions - that men were holding the remotes, but women were picking the shows. She told her husband to "remember the ladies" so he would have the men on his side. She gave him valuable political and career advice that served him well. They were one of our first political power couples, and when she died John Adams wrote "if I could only lie down beside her and die myself." 

In the 1800's, I like Lucy Hayes. Lucy did philanthropic work with Civil War veterans, orphans and the mentally ill long before "pay it forward" was a thing. She also did it before it was expected of First Ladies, and before it was socially cool. Lou Hoover is my pick for the 1900's, because she was one of the most intelligent, confident and selfless women to ever live in the White House. Sadly, the Great Depression eclipses most of Lou's accomplishments, and many people don't even remember her name. She spoke 7 different languages, was the first woman to graduate from Stanford with a Geology degree. She designed two of the Hoover's houses without any formal architecture training. She and her husband had been around the world multiple times before they became President and First Lady, and they were the first First Family (of now three) to decline a Presidential salary. The 2000's are more difficult, because we're not that far into it to know the historical impact of our most recent First Ladies. 

However, for now, I will say Laura Bush. The world changed for everyone on 9/11/01. But, not everyone was First Lady. Laura Bush had to change publicly on the world stage in front of everyone. She went from a Texas librarian who wanted better education for our children to becoming the most traveled First Lady in history as she championed women's rights and education for women all over the world. She had no formal training in foreign affairs or international policy, yet, she went directly into hostile territory to let the women and the world know that we cared about these people and wanted a better life for all of them.

How did you go about researching these books? Did you travel? What kind of interviews did you conduct? 

For a year and two months I ate, slept and breathed First Ladies. I would be on the road for weeks at a time, by myself, with seven bags of gear. By the end of the project, I needed prescription glasses, cortisone shots in my back and hip, and two rounds of Z-PAK steroids for walking pneumonia. The upside was that every TSA agent at BWI Airport knew me by name and security had become a breeze. I was tireless in my pursuit of stories and information about these women. I talked to relatives, biographers, curators, park rangers, and docents about every location and artifact I could. Through C-SPAN's impeccable reputation and my ability to not break anything or overstay my welcome, no door was locked to me or stone left unturned in my extensive travels. I am proud of the fact that I am welcome back at all of these locations and I never had to use my insurance.

If there was one thing that you could say about America's First Ladies, what would it be? 

These women have been partners in the development, leadership and success of America from the very beginning.

Where can readers check you out online? 

Andrew Och is an Award Winning television producer who has traveled the world in search of provocative stories and adventures. In 2012, He began an historical journey as he traversed America for over a year documenting the lives of every First Lady of the United States for the C-SPAN series *First Ladies: Influence And Image.* The series aired in 2013 to great acclaim and helped reveal the untold stories behind the ladies of the White House.
From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, Mr. Och was given an all access pass to some of the nation's most treasured collections and historical landmarks. Andrew Och, the unequivocal FIRST LADIES MAN, pulls back the curtain on the public and private lives of this unique sorority of women - with the largest complete collection of video and interviews about America's First Ladies that exists in the world. These the women that helped build America and it's all about the ladies.
Many people ask me why I like the First Ladies so much, or how I first got interested in them. My initial answer is always, "I was in the right place at the right time." Growing up outside of Washington, DC, I always had a healthy interest in American history. However, like most people I didn't know much more about the First Ladies beyond their time in the White House. My travels and research have opened my eyes to the world of these great women. Now that the series is long over, and I have finished two books about these amazing women, I am thinking about the woman to whom this whole FIRST LADIES MAN project is dedicated, and I am reminded of her image and influence over me. Here are the words I spoke at Julie Carroll Och's memorial service on November 22, 2010.

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