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The White House Social Secretary: Job Description and Work Culture

What are the responsibilities of the social secretary? The social secretary works with the first lady in the overall planning, arrangement, coordination and direction of all official and personal social events given by the president and his family. This includes the form and wording of invitations, the compiling of guest lists, the setting of menus, the seating, the choice of


The White House Social Secretary

The White House Historical Association began an oral history project in 2010 under the guidance of Maria Downs, the Association’s public affairs director and the White House Social Secretary during the Gerald Ford administration. Ms. Downs recognized that important insights into White House history were slipping away with the passing of social secretaries. They rarely wrote or spoke of their ex


Where Hospitality Makes History: State Visits

Since World War II, an ever-lengthening procession of foreign leaders has come to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to confer on global problems. These dignitaries are often formally entertained at the White House, and an invitation to attend such a function is highly coveted. Certainly a State Dinner to honor a visiting head of government or a reigning monarch is one of the


An interview with Allida M. Black

To enhance First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's "My Day" newspaper columns, Allida M. Black, Director and Editor of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers and Research Professor of History & International Affairs at The George Washington University, sat down for an interview covering topics from the Roosevelt's style of entertaining to what the White House was like during World War II.


The Life and Presidency of Jimmy Carter

James Earl Carter Jr. was born on October 1, 1924, in the small rural town of Plains, Georgia, about 150 miles south of Atlanta. His father, James Sr., was a businessman and farmer. His mother, known to the nation as Miss Lillian during her son’s presidency, was a nurse who served as a Peace Corps volunteer after her children were grown and wr


Mapping Lady Bird Johnson's Whistle-Stop Tour

Less than a month before the 1964 presidential election, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson traveled for four days through the American South by train. In a practice known as whistle-stop campaigning, the first lady set out with her team, invited guests, and members of the press aboard the personalized “Lady Bird Special.” They visited eight states and stopped in forty-seven towns. The