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American Women: Resources from the Manuscript Collections

White House Observers

May Craig interviewing an unidentified service member. Circa 1940. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Complementing the division's presidential collections are the papers of White House staff members. Edith Benham Helm (1874-1962) served as social secretary to Edith Bolling Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Bess Truman. Her papers (10,000 items; 1918-53) relate mainly to White House social functions and to President Woodrow Wilson's trips to Europe for the Paris Peace Conference.

Victoria Henrietta Kugler Nesbitt (1874-1963) was a housekeeper for Franklin D. Roosevelt's family, and her collection (4,500 items; 1933-49) contains correspondence (including some exchanged with Eleanor Roosevelt about domestic matters), manuscripts of her books White House Diary (1948) and The Presidential Cookbook (1951), and a nearly complete set of White House menus.

Women who wrote about the White House and its occupants include both Ruth Painter Randall(1892-1971), whose book Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage (1953) is represented in the papers of her husband, Civil War historian J. G. Randall (35,000 items; 1779-1970; bulk 1916-70), and Mary S. Logan, wife of John Alexander Logan (see Congressional Collections).

Political correspondents Ruby A. Black (1896-1957), May Craig (1889?-1975), and Bess Furman (1894-1969) covered the White House, reporting particularly on Eleanor Roosevelt and other modern first ladies (see White House Journalists).

Manuscript Resources Referenced

The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.