Helen Thomas

Long-time White House press corps fixture Helen Thomas died the other day at the age of 92. She served UPI and other news organizations for decades, from 1961 to 2010. Best wishes to her family and friends.

Helen Thomas

01 Mar 1962, Washington, DC, USA — This is a photograph of Helen Thomas, UPI reporter in Washington, DC. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Rex Scouten

The New York Times reports that one-time White House chief user Rex Scouten has died. He was 88 and suffered complications after hip surgery. Our best wishes go out to his friends and family.

Scouten served 10 presidents, from Truman to Clinton not only as chief usher from 1969 to 1986 but also previously as a Secret Service agent and afterward as curator. Scouten never wrote a book or otherwise published any memoirs.

Major acquisition: original builder’s prints


In 2008, I was contacted by Darren Dumont in Maine about some builder’s plans that had come into his possession from family and which dated back to the Truman reconstruction of the White House in 1948-1952. He looked into other offers but eventually decided that the White House Museum was the right venue for them, and in December we at last settled on a price. They are now in my possession.

These are big, 4-foot by 3-and-half foot documents (some smaller) with great detail, most of which are in good condition. Together with my copies of The Report of the Commission on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion, I feel like I have a real window into that very special time in the history of the White House.

The areas included are primarily basement and ground floor rooms, with some first and second floor areas. No particularly security-sensitive areas are included. In fact, everything in the plans is already covered in the White House Museum, but these provide fascinating detail about construction and dimensions, particularly about moldings and wall structure. One has an enlightening comparison of the windows in the East and West Sitting Halls. Another shows exactly how the president’s closet is constructed.

It is my privilege and pleasure to offer images of these documents on the White House Museum site. Please consider making a donation to help offset the cost of acquisition.

You can even sponsor a specific document. Half ($100) and full ($200) sponsorships are available for each document. The sponsor’s name will be attached to any images posted on the White House Museum site for as long as I own the documents (which should be a good long while) in the format “From the collection of Derek Jensen; sponsored in full by XXX” or “…sponsored by XXX and YYY”. Just click the Donate button under the document you’d like to sponsor (donate a second time for full sponsorship). THANKS!

My plan is to stabilize the documents to preserve them and to make high-resolution copies. Some of these I will likely make available for purchase at large size, suitable for framing. Should I do so, sponsors will be offered one gratis for each document sponsored.

Thanks, Darren Dumont, and thanks to all those who have written with compliments and suggestions over the years and made this site a pleasure.