tv The Presidency The Working White House CSPAN July 24, 2022 2:28pm-3:11pm EDT
and tea. to sing and pray with them on their turf. the authorize them to hold events on the white house grounds. all those manifestations of an egalitarian spirit fully justified the tributes paid to him by african-americans including the sobriqué that frederick douglass coined emphatically the so i'm delighto introduce my colleague sarah fling. she started at the white house historical association in 2019 as a graduate public history fellow before joining as a historian in 2021 her research focuses on free and enslaved workers the first ladies and the white house collection serious. sarah's previous work experience includes internships at historic sites such as george
washington's mount vernon and the frick pittsburg. she received her bachelor's degree in history from the university of pittsburgh and her master's in public history from american university. sarah is originally from york, pennsylvania. welcome sarah. thank you, lena. thanks so much for that introduction and good evening everybody. thanks so much for being here with us tonight as we explore what i consider to be the unsung heroes of the white house the resident staff. so if we had to the next slide, i'd like to talk a little bit more about the history and the background of the residence staff. now i think today when we think of white house staff often east and west wing workers come to mind those chief of staff advisors speech writers, press secretaries the very visible political face of the white house, but as you can see on the screen here, the white house isn't just an office. it's a home as a result. there are dozens up to 90 to 100
resident staff workers that labor behind the scenes and really critical roles and they're often overlooked. think of it this way when you have a state dinner at the white house, it would be impossible without a chef and their assistant chefs to create the meal without butler's to serve it to guess and without ushers to bring those guests into the white house. so today i'm going to explore the history and the makeup of the resident staff and highlight a few fascinating individuals that have held these roles in the past. so on the next slide, i'll talk a little bit more in depth about the variety of roles that are included in the resident staff. they're really dozens of workers that specialize in anything you can imagine in a household things from the kitchen staff to hospitality to housekeeping and general upkeep and then of course the office of the curator that assists with the preservation of the objects in the white house collection a few of those modern roles are listed here like chefs butlers storming maids laundry, but these have
really changed over time some roles that were very important in the early years of the white house in the 19th century are no longer necessary today things like stable hands and coachmen as well as messengers that have been outdated but the use of cars and texts and emails, but if we go to the next slide we can talk more about how this has evolved and changed over time. the resident staff is really as old as the white house itself ever since president john adams and first lady abigail adams became the first first family to move into the white house. they brought workers with them to run their households and it's important to note that in the 19th century and these very early years and presidents were paying out of pocket for their workers. typically, they would bring their own household servants with them and when we look at slave owning presidents in the early 19th century, this is particularly true as they brought many enslaved workers to
fill the roles of butlers maids and cooks one example that i have on the screen here is paul jennings who was an enslaved ballet to president james madison in addition to working for the madison's and later the polks at the white house. he also published the very first white house staff memoir called a colored man's reminisces of james madison and as i talk today about different members of the white house resident staff these staff memoirs are a critical piece of evidence that we on the historian team use to understand more about their lives and their relationships with each other as well as their relationships with presidents first. these and first families. so that's just one thing to keep in mind as we go along. now beyond the abolition of slavery, there's a long history of race at the white house and in the west residents staff, typically the residents staff really mirrors the way that americans society operates. so in the 19th and early 20th centuries, you see a lot of
these domestic positions filled by african american workers and immigrant workers and up through the 1950s. the resident staff was segregated at the white house throughout several administrations and at the same time you see a lot of the managerial and clerical positions filled by white workers. so really the resident staff is a microcosm of american society throughout history. another important thing to understand is that although presidents brought their own staff to work at the white house pretty commonly throughout the 19th century today these resident staff positions are very nonpartisan. the resident staff is extremely private and loyal and they're proud to serve their country many of them have spoken about the fact that serving at the people's house is an extension of serving the american people and as a result many of them end up remaining for several administrations, and it's not unusual to see generations of family members working at the white house as well as husbands
and wives and brothers and sisters. i included this great quote on this screen here from alonzo fields, who was the chief butler at the white house for 21 years and he wrote a memoir about his experience. he wrote you don't care who's president you're working for the public. you're a servant to the public just like he is and this i think really thematically carries the individuals that will be talking about today. so let's head to the next slide to talk about the very first residence staff member that i like to feature. and that's dolly johnson who was a white house cook during the administrations of president benjamin harrison and president grover, cleveland. so as you saw on the screen where i listed all of the many roles and departments that resident staff play the kitchen is a really integral part of the resident staff and today the kitchen staff is quite large and managed by the white house executive chef. so the executive chef position actually was created by first lady jacqueline kennedy in 1961,
and now they include a team of pastry chefs and assistance and pantry men, but prior to the creation of that executive chef role the kitchen staff was much smaller in particular throughout the 19th century. you typically would see only one or two cooks overseeing the entire kitchen operation at the white house and one of these individuals was dolly johnson. dolly johnson was actually born into slavery in lexington, kentucky, but she later was hired to be the white house cook for president benjamin harrison in 1889. she was hired in particular to replace the french chef at the white house named madam pelluard who allegedly created too many fancy french meals and that the harrison's really wanted some home cooking instead. so dolly was known for her bluegrass cuisine from kentucky and she worked with another african-american assistant chef named mary robinson to make dishes like breads pies, maryland, terrapin and duck and
other southern staples. there were a little bit more comfort foods to the harrison's she worked for about seven months before she had to return to lexington to care for her daughter, but she ends up returning to the white house a few years later when president grover cleveland returns to the white house for his second term in 1893. he requests that dolly come back to the white house and the reason that we know so much about these sort of changes and dollies life and her absences from the white house is because she really captured a lot of media attention. she wasn't giving interviews herself but for a few reasons she ends up being in the press more than resident staff workers typically are in this period first is that she was an african american cook elevated to the role of head cook at the white house and although she had she was not the first african-american chef at the white house several european white chefs had proceeded her so of course right before her not impelluard and prior to that
another french chef alexandra for tom was in the role of white house cook so part of this was the fact that now they had an african-american cook at the white house and newspapers were celebrating this change in the staff. also, the harrison's did a major renovation of the white house kitchens and so as newspapers discuss the changes that were happening downstairs at the white house descriptions of dolly and mary and their experiences were included in these reports. so that's a little bit about how we know so much about dolly. now once again, she doesn't end up working at the white house very long for the clevelands. she ends up permanently returning to kentucky after about six months and luckily her media attention and her talent for cooking leads her to be very successful in opening restaurants and catering businesses in the lexington area. one of them was actually called the white house cafe. we also know that she sent a pecan wedding cake to first daughter alice roosevelt upon her white house wedding in 1906.
so dolly really continued to foster that relationship with first families. that's a really important part of the relationships between the residents staff. now those relationships are not always so happy. sometimes they're a bit rocky if we go to the next slide, we'll talk about one of these individuals who i think has a really interesting story and that's white house steward hugo simon. so today one of the most important white house positions is arguably the chief usher. they're essentially the manager of the household. they oversee the resident staff and they're also in charge of many of the fiscal and administrative decisions that go on at the white house. really? they are a conduit between the west wing the east wing and the residents staff. now in the 19th century the role of chief usher was not really official yet. and so what you see is a few other roles taking on some of those responsibilities including one called the white house steward, and that is the title that hugo diamond a german
immigrant had now the reason i think that hugo diamond is so fascinating is that he had a very interesting relationship with the harrison's and with the press. so unlike other resident staff workers who prefer to stay private. they don't really give interviews. they might be mentioned in the press, but they're not talking directly to them hugo diamond loved media attention. and by all counts in looking at newspaper interviews with him. he loved to weave interesting tales about gossip at the white house. so he was hired in 1889 by the harrison's and only worked at the white house again for about six months. he liked to tell people that prior to coming to the white house. he catered to prince napoleon and we do know for sure that before coming to the white house. he worked in chicago in hospitality at the hotel rich leo. now his eccentric personality seems to have put him at odds with first lady caroline harrison and caroline harrison really valued privacy at the white house. so it's no surprise that these
interviews that simon was doing with the press might not have sat well with her. i love one story that i found when researching he goes. i'm and that's reported in many different newspapers that a quote crank called at the white house during the harrison administration and promised a youth giving elixir to the staff and to the president and that while other members of the staff thought surely this is a plot or a ploy hugo simon became convinced that the man was a great scientist and bared his arm for the youth giving inoculation. luckily. the man was evicted from the white house before he goes. i'm in could get the youth giving elixir, but certainly this is one event that may have put him at odds with the first family. he also as i mentioned resigned a few months in and he gave many exit interviews about the reasons that he left the white house one newspaper asked about the quote stories that you and the first lady of the land were continually having trouble and he replied verbatim. it is absurd. i have every reason to believe
that she thought a great deal of me and i was treated like a prince she was sorry to see me go. which i just think is very reflective of his sort of persona that he's weaving in the press. simon went on to tell other reporters that he did not leave because of his relationship with the harrison's but rather because it was too dull for him to be the white house steward and because he quote would have been chased out of the white house by the rats had he not left now. we do know that there was a bit of a pest problem in the harrison white house there were cockroaches and rats. i don't think it's as dramatic as simon makes it sound in telling newspapers that he had to keep a gun with him at all times in order to you the rats that tried to get to him at the white house? we also know that simon continued to capitalize on his time at the executive mansion after leaving by publishing the white house cookbook, which was a book that still in circulation today that explored recipes etiquette and other facets of
entertaining at the executive mansion. now on the next slide, we'll move into some of those more loyal staff members who are long-term workers at the white house and seem to have good relationships with the presidents and first ladies. when talking about long-term white house resident staff members, i would be remiss not to mention jerry smith who was known as the white house official duster and he was born in maryland and joined the white house staff during the administration of ulysses s grant. it seems from our research that it's about 1873 that he comes to the white house and he stays at the white house until the theater roosevelt administration just around his death in 1904. so quite a long time on staff at the white house and although he was known as the official duster as you can see in this great image of him on the screen with his feather duster. he also took on many other roles including cook butler dorman footman, really, whatever the first family needed and this is a thread that you can draw
through many of these resident staff position. is that they're so eager and happy to help the first family in any way they can. for many years jerry also had the honor of raising and lowering the flag atop the white house. and today the flag is always top the white house. that's been the case since the nixon administration, but jerry had that honor throughout his tenure working at the executive mansion, and he was also known for sharing ghost stories with visitors at the white house that eventually got to the press spending tales of any paranormal experiences that jerry had with the ghost of lincoln grant and william mckinley as well as former first lady. thanks to as many years of service. he was very close with presidents first. ladies and first families, for example, just before jerry's death in 1904 president theodore roosevelt took a day to personally call on jerry at his home and he assured him that if he would were to recover he would always have a place at the
white house and i love this quote on the screen here from the york daily record. i'm from york. so i loved finding this piece from 1903 saying what would happen to be affairs of state if jerry should retire is fearsome to contemplate. now if we head to the next slide, we'll move from the interior of the white house to the exterior. so the gardens and grounds of course are just as integral to the maintenance of the white house as those interior roles are and today a lot of these responsibilities fall to the national park service and the department of the interior, but throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries gardeners florists and botanists have been an essential part of the white house res. typically because of the nature of this position white house gardeners stay for many years if not for decades and that's certainly the case here with henry fister who is headgardner at the white house from 1877 to 1902. so a lot of his tenure at the white house overlap with jerry
smith and fister oversaw in particular the white house can servatory and the greenhouses so you can see this on this screen here a fabulous photograph of sister in the conservatory and he oversaw purchasing flowers breeding flowers and all the growth of plants at the white house conservatory and outside on the grounds. he also sort of filled a position as florist selecting flowers for state dinners white house events and things for display in sort of this private living quarters for the first family. visitors botanical work continued until 1902 that year president roosevelt ordered the creation of new executive offices to the west of the house. that's what we know today as the west wing which meant demolishing the white house conservatory and greenhouses that were on top of that land. so pfister was relieved from his post when the conservatory was no longer on the white house grounds and 25 years after starting there, but we do know
that he continued his passion for florals and botany by opening his own florist shop in washington, dc. now on the next slide we're gonna move a little bit into the 20th century and more more modern white house workers. so two that i have on the screen here as i mentioned earlier and it's not uncommon when looking at the white house staff to see husbands and wives or family members working together and that certainly the case that you can see here with the mcduffy's. so elizabeth and ervin who are better known as lizzie and mac mcduffie. we're a married couple from georgia who became acquainted with eleanor and franklin roosevelt who had spent lots of time in warm springs, georgia for fdr's polio treatment. they eventually hired the mcduffy's lizzy served as made eleanor roosevelt overseeing housekeeping and cooking duties and matt was personal ballet to franklin roosevelt. now this is a really important role and a very personal one in
particular because of fdr's polio diagnosis mac assisted in putting on his leg braces and helped him to get dressed every morning. so we know that these two men were very close but in general the mcduffy's had a closer relationship with the roosevelts a more personal one than some white house staff members as i mentioned. these are typically apolitical roles, but the mcduffy's were more personal friends and informal advisors to the roosevelts because of their relationship and proximity to the roosevelts they were able to advise them on african american affairs and the roosevelt's really welcomed this relationship. they advocated for civil rights and in particularly called herself quote fdr self-appointed secretary on colored people's affairs. so she made sure that the president was aware of racial discrimination that was happening in many of the federal departments or in new deal agendas. like the postal service or the works progress administration?
we also know that lizzie campaigned for fdr in 1936 and 1940 as an attempt to help swing black voters to support them support him sharing his history of working with african americans and the relationship that she had on the next slide. we'll continue to talk more about families, but the ficklin family certainly holds the takes the cave of record number of family members working at the white house. typically resident staff positions are hired via word of mouth because they require so much privacy loyalty trust so many are given to family members or friends or people that can vouch for each other and the ficklin family is an app example because several ficklins have worked at the white house throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. i love this quote from the new york times that said on a visit to the white house. there's a ficklin here and a
ficklin there everywhere. i look there's oakland now the ficklings were actually descended from enslaved people and charles ficklin was the very first to come to the white house. so he came to the white house in 1939. you can see his photograph on the top left of the screen and he served as a butler but very soon after he got positions for several of his brothers and sisters including john and samuel to come to the white house to work as butlers and part-time pantry men and pantry women so you can see on the screen here on the top right is john ficklin. he's standing there with social secretary lucy winchester and first lady pat nixon and then on the bottom left, you can see samuel ficklin. we also know that charles and john ficklin rose to the coveted position of maitre d which is a very important position for state dinners and major events at the white house. now the ficklins even have a more recent connection to the white house and that is the fellow that you see on the bottom right of this photograph.
that is john rory ficklin. he's the son of john ficklin who's right behind above him on the screen and he took a role at the in the west wing of the white house not in the resident staff, but in the executive president staff and during the obama administration, he served as special assistant to the president and i think that this story sort of shows that point i was trying to make earlier that the staff reflects american changes and so even though the domestic duties at the white house have long fall into african american staff and women you now see those individuals able to take on more of these leadership roles elsewhere in the white house. now let's head to the final screen so i can thank you all for your attention tonight and thank you for listening to these fascinating stories of white house workers the historian team at the white house historical association has been working particularly in the last year to identify as many of these resident staff workers as we can and to categorize and log sort
of biographical information about their lives because really there's such an integral part of the white house, even though president's come and go these resident staff workers are the continuity between administrations and through transitions between presidents. so we hope to continue that research and we appreciate your support and being here and being part of that work. so now i'm happy to turn it over for any questions that you might have. all right. excellent. thank you so much sarah. we have a number of awesome questions coming in in the chat. i just wanted to say it's really cool to see there are some people on this on the zoom tonight that have worked at the white house or know people that have worked at the white house. so very wonderful. yeah. all right, so let's get started with some of these questions here first question i have for you tonight is can you tell us about whether the resident staff still have living accommodations at the white house today? that's a great question.
so many of these resident staff workers. all first say are local because of the nature of the job. so in the 19th century, it was very common for resident staff workers to live at the white house. they're for example if somebody was a stable hand there were living accommodations about the stables. but today really that's not so common because of the you know, the nature of the work they can commute to the white house a little bit more easily in modern day and many of them. here in washington great, we have michael who asks do we know who have a sense of who the longest serving person who worked at the white house is or somebody that worked for a long time. you know, it's difficult because there are many staff members who are their upwards of 50 years and some of them that i didn't include here were clerical staff members. so it's very common in looking at sort of the 19 about the turn of the 20th century to see people that come on during the mckinley administration and stay through fdr and even beyond that
into the 60s. so there have been many staff members that have worked for a long time. so i hesitate to to name somebody to that honor, but but definitely you see people that stay from administration to administration and it continues today a lot of the workers at the white house still have been there for a very long time. john wants to know where their slave quarters on the white house grounds in the early days. that's a great question and lena can also chime into this. so we've been doing some research to try to figure out a little bit more about where enslaved workers would have lived the ground floor of the white house, which was often called the basement in the 19th century. likely would have been a living space for some of these enslaved individuals, but we're trying to figure out a little bit more about the specifics. absolutely. yeah, there's also some some accounts that say they may have lived in the attic as well. so really the attic in the ground floor are probably the spaces used for that. okay, another great question we have here. hold on one second.
okay has any foreign dignitary ever requested a food taster? is that a white house role that you know, wow, that's that's a fabulous question. and you know, i am not ever heard anything like that, but if somebody were if a foreign dignitary were to have a food taster. i assume they would bring somebody from their own staff to do that rather than putting the president's staff and jeopardy i would hope so at least yeah, that sounds about right meg wants to know do you have any books to recommend about these workers particularly some of those memoirs? yeah, definitely so you can of course check out the very first staff memoir by paul jennings, but also a few other good memories one by lillian rogers parks my 30 years back stairs at the house, that's a great option and we mentioned several of these on our website as well. there's ike hoover who was an electrician and later in usher at the white house. his is 42 years in the white house, and that's a great memoir. he especially talks about the he
sort of lists like presidential favorites first lady favorites, which ones were more polite which ones are less polite. so i coopers is very interesting starling of the white house is by edmond sterling who was a secret service officer for many years at the white house. so there really is a plethora but there's more there's alonso fields memoir. there's jb west memoir. there's really so many options. so check them out and lots of them are free online because they were published more than 100 years ago so you can even read them on google books. right. brandon wants to know he wants you to talk about the nature of the interactions that the staff has on a daily basis with the first family. what are those relationally? so by all accounts that you read, um, there's a really close relationship. and of course there are some of these odd versions like you go simon where they don't get along as well because it's all based on her personality is but really you see a lot of close-knit relationships between the first family and the staff because the staff are so willing to be
helpful and they also witness really key moments in the lives of first families. so a good example, is that after the assassination of john f kennedy there are tons of staff members who discuss the fact that they were all absolutely devastated that they mourned with mrs. kennedy that she hugged them and grieved with them. so there's really this close-knit tie because you're experiencing a life that other people outside of the white house can't really understand. so the other thing too that you notice is between first children and staff a lot of staff members take on playful sort of parental brotherly sisterly roles with the first family. that's really fun and delightful to read about so it's definitely a small white house family. gail wants to know where was the kitchen in the early days and then where is the kitchen now? so that's a great question. so in talking about when i showed that photo that might be dolly johnson on the ground floor of the white house, so throughout the 19th century. the kitchen is on the ground
floor. there were actually technically two kitchens throughout that period and now i believe that the kitchen is still on the ground floor. so but they have moved a bit and they've been renovated completely several times so that image that you saw is nothing like the current white house kitchen. yes, that was much older version of this these days. oh barbara is picking up on a jerry smith's paranormal experiences that he reported does. are there any other good worker ghost stories the white house? oh, that's a good question. you know jerry smith. this is probably the best known just because it was picked up in the press, but we also had stories of first families saying that they've seen some as well as other staff who have commented on it in passing or wrote about it when interviewed in newspap. is so certainly people have picked up on it, but jerry smith is sort of the longest most popular even today if you see people talking about white house ghost story you're certain to
hear jerry smith mentioned. i have a question from caroline and she is from australia and she wants to know is working at the white house what it is like working at the white house in the tv show the west wing. pretty great question. um, i would say that first the relationship that the sort of west wing staff have to their jobs is very different than what the resident staff experiences but those long hours and those on called days and those relationships of big personalities and foreign dignitaries. all those things are certainly based in truth. so any relationship that you see with the resident staff and the west wing i can't comment on because i'm afraid to say i haven't seen all the best wings. i have a question from deborah who asks any idea who looks after the past. oh, i love this question. um, so it varies between presidents and time periods. there are a few that you see
sort of in this early 20th century where they take on sort of an unofficial kennel master rule a role. so harry waters is one example who worked in a completely different role. i was like an electrician and custodial staff of the white house and then happened to take on the dogs sometimes in the 1920s and 30s. you see some secret service staff members take on some of those responsibilities. i'm not sure today if there's an official master of hounds or something, but definitely staff members have taken that on as an additional responsibility as needed. we have a question from jean and south bend, indiana and jean asks, are these resident staff employees considered government workers who can receive health care and other benefits from the federal government or from the white house itself? great question jean so ever since the early 20th century and those resident staff positions have morphed into government positions. so they have all the you know government perks the regular salary but in the 19th century
those roles were paid out of pocket, so it looks like about slowly some of those roles started becoming government roles like the ushers and doorkeepers, but it looks like the major turn of the domestic staff like housekeepers and maids comes during the taft administration from what we can tell of being paid for by the government. excellent. we have another question that asks actually about some of your other research. what can you tell us about philip reid? oh, wow. thank you for bringing that up. so for anyone who is unfamiliar outside of the white house, there's a statue of andrew jackson that was created by sculptor clark mills, but over the last year, so especially as the jackson statue has come under a lot of fire and we've been talking about the statue much more. there's sort of an unsung hero behind the statue, which is philip breed who was an enslaved man that was owned by clark mills the sculptor and seems to
have participated not only in the casting of that statue of andrew jackson, but more famously phillip breed was involved in the casting of the statue of freedom on top of the us capitol building, but you can still see today. so i'm always interested in the relationship between arts and slavery and this is one good example of an enslaved artisan who really left behind these amazing pieces of art that are so iconic in america, but that for many years. we didn't know a lot about and frankly we still don't but a lot of historians have been working to uncover this history. excellent tiffany from austell, georgia wants to know did the mcduffy's travel with fdr? yes, absolutely. that's a great question. especially as mac mcduffie was fdr's ballet. he traveled with fdr everywhere that he won because a valet really does a catch-all job getting you ready for the day taking care of any chores. you may need a great story actually about mac mcduffie is that they had to get him a body double. so fdr during world war two had
a body double because he was too easy to see and people, you know, put a safety at risk mac was such an important part of fdrs on entourage and he was so recognizable as one of fdr's most important staff members that they got back a body double as well. wow, that's so interesting. another question that we have from susan is we're the positions are these full-time positions part-time positions a mixture. it's definitely a mixture some of them that are very important in managerial capacities like the executive chef or the chief usher. they are working full-time at the white house, but then for example some of the fick lens worked part-time as butlers coming as needed for events and things like that electricians plumbers. some of them are there full-time, but sometimes they'll bring in part-time work if there's additional projects that need to be done. i have a question from carol who wants to know a bit more about malvina thompson eleanor roosevelt's chief of staff. we know anything more about her.
so we do have some more information on our website having a chief of staff for the first lady is a relatively modern concept for the 20th century. and of course now it's a really important role and we work very closely with former chiefs of staff and our job, but eleanor roosevelt's i wonder if you're asking because of the showtime show. the first lady is i think this is a part of that but these are really important roles for the first ladies because for example eleanor roosevelt really branched out of the duties that we're expected of a first lady in that early 20th century period and so she needed somebody to help with the management of her schedule of events of talking with other with the president and with other offices about her travels. so having that role of us chief of staff is really crucial now to first ladies and it really started in that early 20th century period taffy wants to know who sets the household rules. oh, i love this question.
so i'm not privy to the household rules. however, because the chief usher is really the manager of the presidential households, and they really do a lot of that household management of what's expected of the resident staff of you know, setting hours and schedules and working with the resident staff. so really that all falls to that chief usher role and it's part of the reason that it's so important because they're working not only with the president and first lady, but with a staff of 9200 residents staff workers. the question from john in harrisburg, pennsylvania, who asked do any foreign dignitaries ever stay at the white house? that's a great question and in the past for in dignitaries have stayed at the white house. for example, queen elizabeth has stayed at the white house in the past, but typically you see now a foreign dignitaries like to stay at blair house right across the way that's why it's called the president's guest house. so it's not as common now as it used to be excellent all right. i have one more question for you.
sorry i had to scroll down and now i need to scroll back up. okay, this is a question from matt and he asked he says this research is fascinating. what does the association plan to do with these stories of these individuals great question matt. so as i mentioned we've been doing a lot of research over the last year and we've been trying to compile as much biographical information about each of these individuals as we can. our goal is to create some sort of final project or final product that searchable where individuals can you know search the name of a person that they knew works at the white house or perhaps look up any maid that was at the white house and see a list of those names because we'd really like to emphasize that these individuals are the backbone of the white house. they are what makes the white house run and this is the people's house. so our goal is to create some sort of searchable database or an end product that really brings together all of this research for future researchers students. and anybody interested in history of white house staff
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