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Presidential Food: A Resource Guide

Presidents and First Ladies

This section includes books and journal articles focusing primarily on particular presidents and/or first ladies. While some presidents and first ladies have inspired more written accounts than others--some for their culinary sensibilities, others for a lack of them--presidential food, in good taste or bad, is of perennial interest. Each of these books and article focus primarily on one or a few administrations. They include historical studies, memoirs by professional cooks and other accounts.

The following materials include links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are included when available.

The following articles focus on the topic of White House chefs. To locate articles online, there are many subscription databases that can be helpful. All databases available at the Library of Congress can be located and and accessed via our Eresources Online Catalog.

  • Calmes, Jackie. "U.S. and Russia focus on trade with burgers on side."
    New York Times, June 25, 2010, v.159, p. 10
  • Fabricant, Florence. "Nixon in China, the Dinner, Is Recreated."
    New York Times, Feb. 25, 2011
  • "The First Lady’s favorite menus and recipes."
    Includes menus and recipes from Jacqueline Kennedy.
    Redbook, Aug. 1961. v.117: 50-57, 88
  • "Food Fit for a President: J. K. Polk’s Southern favorites."
    The Ladies’ Home Journal, May 1982, v. 99:48-56
  • Hendrix, Steve. "Brilliant beyond all precedent: The first White House state dinner for the king of Hawaii."
    President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia, held the first formal White House state dinner in 1874 to honor David Kalākaua, the king of Hawaii. Washington Post, April 25, 2018
  • "Home circle at the White House, the domestic life of President Arthur."
    Ohio Farmer, Aug. 12, 1882, v. 62: 90
  • Kimball, Marie. "Feast Days at Monticello."
    McCall's, Nov. 1955, v. 83: 42-47
  • Michaud, John. "Sheila Hibben." Cookbook writer and journalist Sheila Hibben, a well-known expert in American culinary history, served briefly as culinary advisor to the FDR White House. She was soon replaced by Henrietta Nesbitt.
    The New Yorker, Nov. 16, 2010
  • "Nixon's China Détente." During his historic trip to China in 1972, President Nixon attended an elaborate banquet for 600.
    Newsweek, Special Commemorative Issue, Autumn, 2012.
  • Scofield, Mary Ellen. "The Fatigues of His Table: The Politics of Presidential Dining During the Jefferson Administration." Discusses the politics of presidential dining during the administration of Thomas Jefferson.The presidential dinner records are deposited in Boston's Massachusetts Historical Society.
    Journal of the Early Republic, Fall 2006, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p449-469. 21p.
  • Shapiro, Laura. "The First Kitchen." Discusses food culture in the White House during the time of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the influence of White House housekeeper Henrietta Nesbitt.
    The New Yorker, Nov. 22, 2010, v. 86: 74-80
  • Smith, Andrew. "The First Suppers: a tradition of inaugural meals."
    Los Angeles Times, Jan. 14, 2009
  • Steinhauer, Jennifer. "Trump Kicks Away Obama Traditions Even at the Dinner Table." Mr. Trump's approach to dining and nutrition is clearly not the most significant of policy changes, but it has left a notable mark on the culture of the White House and the nation’s capital.
    The New York Times, Dec. 14, 2018
  • Straithmore, Muriel. "Mrs. Woodrow Wilson is gifted in the art of cooking".
    Table Talk, March, 1913, v. 28: 121-124