An Historic Guide

The White House: An Historic GuideI got an e-mail notice today that the new An Historic Guide is available, so I ordered mine. It’s been available for a little while, but I just got the notice.

I’m looking forward to official pics of the new Press Briefing Room and the walk-thru of the exterior, but I don’t think it will be all that amazing. I do recommend the White House History books tho. They’re wonderful.


Received the 1976 Rolling Stone with Jack Ford in it. Pulp paper makes for bad photo reproduction, but I’ll scan his bedroom at least anyway.

I also got the book White House: An Architectural History. It’s got reproductions of the Truman floor plans (from the CREM report), good pics of failed expansion plans I haven’t seen before, and more. I’ll have to spend some time going thru it.

And last, I got the 1937 Life issue with the Roosevelt West Wing floor plan. I’ll scan that and post quickly. I had hoped for a lot more; namely photos of the interiors of some of the rooms, but alas… a lack.

Magazines and thanks!

I just got tipped off about old issues of magazines with good articles on the White House, and I managed to find them on Ebay and buy them for $17 each (including shipping):

  • Life: January 4, 1937—The Roosevelt White House (with a diagram of the West Wing to die for)
  • Life: July 5, 1968—Special Issue: The Presidency, with diagrams and photos (the primary source for my East Wing floor plan)
  • Rolling Stone: July 29, 1976—President Ford’s son Jack in the White House

Thanks to Alec and Rod….

…And many thanks to Sharon, Kathryn, and especially Lynne for their donations and happy new year to all!

By the way, feel free to suggest any other old White House magazine issues. The Internet is amazing. I’m telling you, this thing is going to be big.

Presidential archives

Can I just complain for a moment at the appalling state of our nation’s presidential library online offerings? I happened to click one of the credit links to a photo from the Eisenhower Library and got a “page not found” error because they’ve changed the site structure once again and now the photo is nowhere to be found.

My personal website [warning: politics] is almost 5 years old and not a single incoming link made during that time would be broken today. This site is 2-and-a-half years old and only two or three of links made in that time would be broken.

Further, in order to search for photos, they all direct you to a generic ARC search page and give weak instructions on how to find material related to the president in question. The few photos that are available are awful little 256-color GIFs that have scratches and dust, and no color- or fade-correction. A great deal of the work I do to create this site is just making those kinds of images presentable.

These people are the keepers of our nation’s presidential heritage and history, set up and supported by the American people. Is it too much to ask that they post clean, high-resolution images on their own sites and keep them available and link-enabled? Here is a photo of the Carter Oval Office on the National Archives site*; compare it to what I finally managed to produce that wouldn’t embarrass me to post.

* This is actually a University of Maryland mirror of some National Archive resources. It actually offers high-res images and makes them linkable.

Old and older

Just got the 1979 and 1991 WHHA Guides delivered via Ebay. I find it a little irritating the way that the exact same photo is sometimes used for more than a decade just because the decor doesn’t change much (the 1991 Private Dining Room photo is identical to the one from 1975). It wouldn’t be so bad if they at least dated the pictures…. Anyway, my thanks to John in NOLA, who sent along a 1962 1963 WHHA Guide to help complete my collection. Very cool.

I’ve added a few photos from these and also a couple I got from Monkman’s Furnishings….

For the record, the White House Museum Library* now includes An Historic Guide from:

  • 1963, 4th edition
  • 1964, 5th edition
  • 1968, 8th edition
  • 1973, “4th” edition
  • 1975, 12th edition
  • 1979, 14th edition
  • 1982. 15th edition
  • 1991, 17th edition (hardbound)
  • 1994? (hasn’t arrived yet)
  • 2003, 22nd edition

* Photo does not show the White House Museum Library Video Annex

UPDATE: The other books in the collection are (left to right, back to front):

  • Monkman’s WH… Furnishings
  • Seale’s WH… Idea
  • The 1952 Report of the Commission on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion
  • WH History collection 1 and 2
  • WH History #14 & 17 (very thin)
  • Designing Camelot
  • Architectural Digest, Dec 1981
  • National Geographic, Nov 1966
  • [An Historic Guide collection]
  • Seale’s The President’s House (2 vol.)
  • Upstairs at the WH
  • Inside History of the WH (1908)
  • 42 Years in the WH (1934)
  • Anthony’s America’s First Families
  • Anthony’s The Kennedy WH
  • The WH is Our House and The Last Day (Nixon) CD-ROMs [top]