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Presidential Food: A Resource Guide

Presidential Papers and Special Collections

Thomas Jefferson's maccaroni recipe and press design. Thomas Jefferson Papers. Library of Congress Manuscript Division.

Presidential papers and related collections are always helpful, and they can sometimes provide unexpected material. For example, the Harry Payne Whitney Collection of William Collins Whitney Correspondence at the Library of Congress includes a satin-covered, Tiffany-designed cake box that once held a single slice of the wedding cake from the marriage of Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom which took place on June 2, 1886 in the Blue Room of the White House. ​In addition to presidential papers, papers of White House staff and others associated with presidents and first ladies are often a source for presidential food history. For example, the papers of Henrietta Nesbitt record almost every menu drawn up while she was housekeeper in the Franklin Roosevelt White House, as well as household costs, memoranda, seating charts, her social calendar and correspondence.

Manuscript Collections

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information about these manuscript collections in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to online finding aids for the collections are provided when available.

Library of Congress Research Guide

Researchers will also find significant resources related to the social, political, and cultural life of Washington, D.C. within the Manuscript Division's Presidential papers. Relevant material includes family papers, documents of social engagements, maps, and plans, such as Thomas Jefferson's 1791 plan of the District, and a letter to Abraham Lincoln concerning liquor sales to soldiers in the District. Collections also include the activities of first ladies and their children, such as letters concerning Helen Taft's public image, and Edith Roosevelt's correspondence that are in her husband's papers.

External Manuscript Collection

Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive presents full-color images and some transcriptions of manuscripts selected from the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts at the Massachusetts Historical Society. 

Collections at Presidential Libraries

Mrs. Coolidge eating cookies presented by a New York Girl Scout troop. 1923. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.


Papers and records from many administrations are held in Presidential Libraries and Museums, most of which are administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives and Records Administration oversees a nationwide network of Presidential Libraries beginning with the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. These can be invaluable sources for menus and accounts of occasions and activities at the White House and beyond.