Hillary Clinton in LIFE Magazine, June 20, 1969.
June 20, 1969 issue of LIFE magazine featuring Hillary Rodham.LIFE Magazine
Hillary Clinton in LIFE Magazine, June 20, 1969.
Hillary Clinton in LIFE Magazine, June 20, 1969.
Hillary Clinton in LIFE Magazine, June 20, 1969.
June 20, 1969 issue of LIFE magazine featuring Hillary Rodham.
LIFE Magazine
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Hillary Clinton's First National Splash: LIFE Magazine in 1969

This week's Democratic National Convention will be far from the first time that Hillary Clinton will find herself the center of attention. As the crowning moment—so far—of a life in politics, her presumed nomination as the party's nominee for president will put her in a familiar spot beneath the nation's spotlight.

In 1969, however, things were different. Hillary Rodham received early national attention as a student speaker at Wellesley College's graduation that year—a role that earned her a spot in a LIFE Magazine round-up of the words presented by the nation's student leaders at their graduations. "Through their scathing words and clenched fists," the magazine assessed, "the Class of '69 made clear that the protest will go on."

"We are, all of us, exploring a world that none of us understands and attempting to create within that uncertainty," she told her classmates, in a speech that LIFE excerpted. "But there are some things we feel—we feel that our prevailing, acquisitive and competitive corporate life, including, tragically, the universities, is not the way of life for us. We're searching for more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating modes of living. And so our questions, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government, continue."

Though the future candidate's picture only appeared as a small portrait, among many others, LIFE did send a photographer to meet with her at her family home in Illinois. Here are some of the images that did not make it to print:

LIFE With Hillary: Portraits of a Wellesley Grad, 1969

Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Not published in LIFE. Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.Lee Balterman—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969. This image appeared in the June 20, 1969, issue of LIFE.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
LIFE magazine, June 20, 1969, "Class of '69" page spreads. (Best viewed using "Full Screen" option, at right.)
LIFE magazine, June 20, 1969, "Class of '69" page spreads. (Best viewed using "Full Screen" option, at right.)
LIFE magazine, June 20, 1969, "Class of '69" page spreads. (Best viewed using "Full Screen" option, at right.)
Not published in LIFE. Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Rodham Clinton), Park Ridge, Illinois, June 1969.
Lee Balterman—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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That month, TIME likewise ran a commencement-address round-up that featured Wellesley's Rodham, choosing to highlight a different—and perhaps more prescient—excerpt from her speech: "More pertinent, perhaps, is the issue raised last week by Class Speaker Hillary Rodham at Wellesley. 'For too long,' she said, 'those who lead us have viewed politics as the art of the possible. The challenge that faces them—and us—now is to practice politics as the art of making possible what appears impossible.'"

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