White House Research Resources



There are many books, magazines, and videos that are invaluable to those interested in the White House or the families who have lived there. This site owes a debt to all of them.

Source Diagrams

This page lists some of the most important sources and provides links to images for those interested in dowloading them. Most of the files are very large images. Note that parts of them may be outdated now (like the northwest corner of the second floor in the 1952 diagram).

East Wing oblique (White House Historical Association, 1968) 1.55 MB JPG

Residence Ground Floor (HABS, 1992) 390 KB TIF

Residence First Floor (HABS, 1992) 385 KB TIF

Residence Second Floor (Committee on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion, 1952) 407 KB JPG

Residence Third Floor (Committee on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion, 1952) 776 KB JPG

White House Grounds (HABS, 1992) 892 KB TIF (super high res version — 4881 x 6490 - 4.77 MB)

Where is the West Wing?

There are no high-quality source diagrams of the modern West Wing. The White House Museum's diagram of the modern West Wing is pieced together from outdated diagrams (like the 1945 expansion plan), photos, videos, and other information.

Web Sites

The White House

Link — The official White House Web site.

The White House Historical Association

Link — The White House Historical Association is a charitable nonprofit institution whose purpose is to enhance the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the White House. To fulfill its purpose, the White House Historical Association produces educational literature and films, develops special programs, and maintains a web site interpreting the White House and its history and the persons and events associated with it.

The Library of Congress - HABS Project

Link — Photos and floor plan diagrams from the 1992 documentation of the White House by the Historical American Buildings Survey.

The HABS material is available from the Library of Congress website, but it's not very easy to find. Click the link above to get to the HABS photo page. To find the diagrams, click the "drawings" icon at the top of that page.


The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Link — Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by NARA forever, including photographs of presidential administrations. Those valuable records are preserved and are available to the public, although materials that are available online are rather limited and somewhat difficult to find.

The Truman Library and Museum

Link — Extensive archives of the reconstruction of the White House from 1949-1952.

Official Resources and Reports

The White House: An Historic Guide

WHHA — The White House Historical Association

The White House: An Historic Guide contains extensively illustrated room-by-room descriptions of the décor and furnishings of the White House, accompanied by detailed historical text. This edition features recent photographs of the State Floor, Second Floor, and of the West Wing. 160 pages. 22nd edition, 2003.

For the record, the White House Museum collection consists of:

  • 1962, 1st edition
  • 1963, 4th edition
  • 1964, 5th edition
  • 1968, 8th edition
  • 1975, 12th edition
  • 1979, 14th edition
  • 1982. 15th edition
  • 1991, 17th edition (hardbound)
  • 1995, 19th edition
  • 2003, 22nd edition

The Living White House

National Geographic Society (with White House Historical Association) publication very similar to the Historic Guide but with more history and fewer contemporary photos of rooms.

White House History

WHHA — The journal of the White House Historical Association

The Report of the Commission on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion

The Commission on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion (CREM)

A bound 1952 report on the reconstruction of the White House from 1949 to 1952. It has numerous photographs of the construction before and after and several color photos of rooms after completion.

Scholarly Works

The White House: The History of an American Idea

Amazon | WHHA — William Seale

[from WHHA] This richly illustrated reference brings together the story of the architecture of the White House with the story of the first families and designers who shaped it. 350 pages. 2001.

The President's House

Amazon — William Seale

[from Amazon] The 195-year history of the White House is a remarkable saga that is separate from the nation's history, yet an integral part of the lives of the men who held the position of chief executive and their families. Seale's book is a scholarly study of the first families and their home, but he includes anecdotes and interesting tales that will appeal to all readers. Seventy pages of notes attest to Seale's research. The result is a first-rate social history of the White House. The well-written work is divided into 43 chapters involving 32 Presidents from Washington through Truman. In addition, there are 122 black-and-white photographs, most focusing on the White House. Little scholarly work is available on the White House, so Seale's two volumes are particularly valuable. Recommended at all levels. Boyd Childress, Auburn University Library, Ala. (Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.) 1226 pages.

The White House: Its Historic Furnishings and Families

Amazon — Betty Monkman

[from Amazon] For 200 years the White House has served as the residence of our nation's president and his family. John and Abigail Adams were the first residents, and each family ever since has been able to make the White House a comfortable home and to acquire the necessities for handsomely carrying out its additional functions as nexus for state ceremenoy and entertaining. In captivating detail, this volume--produced in association with the White House Historical Association--reveals how the decoration of the White House has reflected the personal style of our first families and their countless forays into redecorating.

Illustrated largely with photographs especially commissioned for this book, as well as historic pictures, The White House focuses on some of our nation's most important heirlooms, including furniture, silver, glass, porcelain, and textiles. Enlivened with stories about the first families and how their furnishings often clashed with the politics of the time, this book is an ideal gift for those interested in the decorative arts, biography, and history.

Designing Camelot

Amazon — James Abbott and Elaine Rice

[from Amazon] Firsthand accounts and photographs chronicle the restoration of the White House during the Kennedy Administration. Designing Camelot recounts one of the most influential interior design projects in American history, the restoration of the White House during the Kennedy administration. Fueled by the intense fascination with the charismatic First Family, the project had a profound effect on the popular American imagination and taste in interior furnishings. Emphasizing the historic restoration of each room and the efforts to have these rooms reflect the personalities and tastes of Jack and Jackie, Designing Camelot features a wealth of first-person quotations, personal and public correspondence, media accounts, and photographs. Included are detailed room-by-room analyses of the restoration, anecdotes about the people involved, and insights into the choices made. 272 pages.

America's First Families

Amazon — Carl Sferrazza Anthony

[from Amazon] From John and Abigail Adams in 1800 to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Americans have been fascinated with the private lives of the inhabitants of the White House. Anthony's book records the behind-the-scene lives of American presidents and their families with photographs, drawings, and letters from newspapers, library archives, and private collections. The book is organized to record the first days of First Families from inauguration to early life in the White House, relationships within First Families, and the White House as home office and family home. Anthony recalls the celebrations, tragedies, and public scrutiny of the families. He notes the traditions set by succeeding families: Dwight Eisenhower, the first president to kiss his wife at inauguration; Lady Bird Johnson, the first wife to hold the Bible as her husband took the oath of office. Anthony includes listings of family christenings, marriages, deaths, religious affiliations, favorite family games, and leisure activities. The publication of this book coincides with the bicentennial of the White House.


Forty-Two Years in the White House

Amazon — Irwin "Ike" Hoover

[from Amazon] Written by the Chief Usher of the White House, here are the personal characteristics, the peculiarities, and the intimate daily lives of ten presidents and their wives, from Benjamin Harrison to Franklin D. Roosevelt, recorded by the only man who lived in daily contact with them all. "If Walter Winchell and Samuel Pepys had been hidng under White House davenports they could not have written a better extended gossip column than this masterpiece of subtly indiscreet revelations. Ike must have had his ear at every key-hole." Sterling North, Chicago Daily News.

Upstairs at the White House

Amazon — JB West

Chief Usher James Bernard West's memoir of his many decades at the White House, from FDR to Nixon. Fascinating and colorful, yet extremely diplomatic.

Backstairs at the White House

Amazon — Lillian Rogers Parks

[from Amazon] Two White House maids—Lillian Rogers Parks and her mother Maggie Rogers—reveal what it was really like upstairs and downstairs at the White House from the Taft administration to the Eisenhower administration.