In the vein of America’s First Daughter, Piper Huguley’s historical novel delves into the remarkable friendship of Portia Washington and Alice Roosevelt, the daughters of educator Booker T. Washington and President Teddy Roosevelt.

At the turn of the twentieth century, in a time of great change, two women—separated by societal status and culture but bound by their expected roles as the daughters of famed statesmen—forged a lifelong friendship. 

Portia Washington’s father Booker T. Washington was formerly enslaved and spent his life championing the empowerment of Black Americans through his school, known popularly as Tuskegee Institute, as well as his political connections. Dedicated to her father’s values, Portia contributed by teaching and performing spirituals and classical music. But a marriage to a controlling and jealous husband made fulfilling her dreams much more difficult. 

When Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency, his eldest daughter Alice Roosevelt joined him in the White House. To try to win her father’s approval, she eagerly jumped in to help him succeed, but Alice’s political savvy and nonconformist behavior alienated as well as intrigued his opponents and allies. When she married a congressman, she carved out her own agendas and continued espousing women’s rights and progressive causes. 

Brought together in the wake of their fathers’ friendship, these bright and fascinating women helped each other struggle through marriages, pregnancies, and political upheaval, supporting each other throughout their lives.  

A provocative historical novel and revealing portrait, Piper Huguley’s American Daughters vividly brings to life two passionate and vital women who nurtured a friendship that transcended politics and race over a century ago. 

About the author(s)

Piper Huguley is the author of By Her Own Design as well as the Home to Milford College and the Migrations of the Heart series. She is a multiple-time Golden Heart finalist. Piper blogs about the history behind her novels on her website. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son.


By Her Own Design’s powerful voice and dedicated research bring an unsung heroine into the well-deserved spotlight. Fierce and fashionable Ann Lowe, long erased from history as the unnamed ‘colored dressmaker’ behind Jackie Kennedy’s famous wedding dress, claws her way here from a Jim Crow Alabama childhood to a storied career as dress designer for the social elite. Her climb is mesmerizing—Piper Huguley has crafted a heroine for the ages!” 
Kate Quinn

“This is an all-American story in the best sense of the term…Now this fascinating artist is enjoying renewed and long overdue attention thanks to this moving novel by storyteller and chronicler of African American history Piper Huguley.”  — Oprah Daily on By Her Own Design 

“Huguley brings to life a largely forgotten but immensely important figure in design history. Her choice to write through Ann’s eyes creates an intimacy that subsumes the historical to give a human perspective and voice. As good historical fiction does, this novel will amaze and impress readers.” 
Library Journal (starred review) on By Her Own Design 

"As intricate and impressive as one of Ann Lowe's designs, Piper Huguley's By Her Own Design isn't just the story of a dress, or even a life. It's a whirlwind trip through an America in flux, from the days of hobble skirts to the wobbly image of Lady Diana Spencer on a square tv screen, seen through the eyes of a woman so real and raw that you'll feel like you're living it all with her. This is biographical fiction at its very best!"
Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of Band of Sisters

“The novel’s voice, tone, and dialogue wrap the reader in the world of the Jim Crow South of 1907, and through the enfolding narrative, we experience Ann Lowe’s ups and downs as she leaves all she has known in Alabama and journeys to Tampa with only her fashion designs in her head. This story shows the importance of Ann’s courage and hopes as she encounters cruelty, discrimination, and poverty on the way to uncertain fame…An essential hidden history brought to life.” — Historical Novel Society on By Her Own Design

"I could feel the love with which Piper Huguley crafted this tale about the life of Ann Cole Lowe, yet another 'hidden figure' in American history. Huguley expertly morphs each one of Lowe's heartbreaks into triumph and hope." — Kaia Alderson, author of Sisters in Arms