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When John and Abigail Adams became the first residents of the unfinished White House, which in 1800 had six habitable rooms, they brought only four servants with them. Currently, the 132-room Executive Mansion requires approximately 90 employees to complete myriad daily tasks.

“Tell us about a typical day,” many White House workers are asked. Their usual reply is, “There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ day in the White House!” Not only must workers be flexible in fulfilling a variety of duties, but the historical events and changes in technology, politics, and society that occur during an employee’s tenure have an impact on an individual’s job. Each day in the life of a White House worker brings something new.

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century White House staff diaries, memoirs, and photographs, as well as interviews with retired workers, offer capsules of the daily schedules and responsibilities that have kept the White House running since 1800. Traditions and memories preserved in written, oral, and photographic media give us insight into the working White House.


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