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Image: Sam Whiting checking Christmas lights, 1991.
Image: Chocolate mold, 1990s.
Image: Handbooks.
Sam Whiting checking Christmas lights, 1991. The holiday season is an especially busy time at the White House. Some electricians work 16 or 17 hours a day in order to light all the trees inside the mansion. The official Christmas tree in the Blue Room usually has 10,000 to 13,000 lights.

George Bush Presidential Library

Chocolate mold, 1990s. “I had to produce glossy, smooth confections on an almost daily basis at the White House,” recalled former executive pastry chef Roland Mesnier. Rather than selecting a metal mold for making individual candies, Mesnier preferred a plastic form such as this one, designed to yield nine candies, each embossed with the presidential seal. Mesnier developed his own signature chocolate-tempering techniques and used them to delight White House guests for more than 25 years.

Lent by The White House

Handbooks. Handbooks such as these would have provided guidelines for service and etiquette. One of the authors, Robert Roberts, an African American, served as butler and majordomo in the household of Massachusetts Senator and Governor Christopher Gore. Tunis G. Campbell, an African American preacher and abolitionist, worked as a hotel steward in New York and Boston.

Book cover: Lewis Hotel Training Course by Clifford Lewis, 1941. Lewis Hotel Training School

Book cover: Pullman’s Palace Car Company Car-Service Rules, 1893. Newberry Library

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graphic detail
graphic detail