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The White House Historical Association today released "Military Roles and the White House," the 73rd issue of its award-winning magazine, White House History Quarterly. The issue comes just before Memorial Day, and focuses on military traditions at the White House, as well as the influence of military life on the work of three first ladies, a president’s relationship with his generals as a war unfolds, and Civil War-era letters that reveal one soldier’s own wartime experience in the President’s Neighborhood.

“From performing traditional American music to welcome a visiting head of state, to showing guests their seats in the East Room on a special occasion, to managing a State Dinner receiving line, to serving lunch to the president in the Oval Office Dining Room, every branch of the military plays a role in facilitating ceremonial and everyday White House routines,” Marcia Anderson, editor of White House History Quarterly, observes.

Articles included in this issue of White House History Quarterly:

  • National Archives Feature "John Adams Nominates George Washington to Be Lieutenant General and Commander and Chief of the Armies”Jessie Kratz, historian of the National Archives, opens the issue with a look at one of many White House traditions that can be traced back to President George Washington. She highlights a letter of just a single sentence, with which John Adams nominates George Washington to be commander in chief the U.S. Armies.
  • “The Old Guard and Fife and Drum Corps at the White House”Ross D. Andrews, J. Mark Reilly, and William E. White Jr., tell the story of the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and remind readers that the roots of the organization that provides “the soundtrack to America’s story” go back to George Washington, the Continental Army, “and the ideals and values on which the United States was founded.”
  • By Authority of the President: Establishing Military Medals and Awards – Archivist Thomas Richardson relates the history behind the military medals and awards established by the authority of U.S. presidents, a history that also begins with George Washington, who personally awarded three Badges for Military Merit (later revived as the Purple Heart) during the Revolutionary War.
  • “Captain Randall P. Wade’s Civil War Letters from the Telegraph Office– Military advisers and officers have had many roles in the White House as well, and Holly M. Witchey takes readers back to the Civil War for a glimpse at the role fulfilled by the military in ensuring President Abraham Lincoln’s urgent messages were sent and received. Through the candid letters written by Captain Randall P. Wade, Witchey shares one soldier’s personal experience in the Telegraph Office of the War Department.
  • “The Misson of the White House Military Social Aides: Welcoming Guests to the White HouseSharing the history and role of military social aides in the White House, Jonathan Sessions explains how volunteer aides from every branch of the military accomplish their mission “to ensure that every guest of the president and first lady of the United States feels welcome and cared for in the President’s House.”
  • “The Generals’ Wives: Three First Ladies Shaped by the Military – Historian Diana Carlin provides an interesting perspective on another way military traditions have influenced the operation of the White House. With her article, Carlin explains how the management approaches Martha Washington, Julia Grant, and Mamie Eisenhower brought to their roles as first ladies were influenced by their years of military life.
  • “The White House Navy Mess Hall: The Hidden Narrative of Those Who Serve ThereFocusing on a tradition of White House service that began during the presidency of Harry S. Truman, Robert A. Roncska reveals that the roles of those who serve in the White House Navy Mess go far beyond preparing and serving meals in the West Wing dining room.
  • “War President James K. Polk and His Team of Rivals– Clifford Krainik goes back to the years of the Mexican-American War to relate the significance of a president’s relationship with the military on the battlefield as a war unfolds. Krainik reviews President James K. Polk’s management of three generals, his own “team of rivals”: John C. Frémont, Winfield Scott, and Zachary Taylor.
  • Presidential Sites Quarterly Feature "The Sketch That Stopped the Bulldozers: Grosvenor Chapman’s Role in the Preservation of Lafayette Square” ­– Marcia Anderson worked with Leni Chapman Preston to visit a turning point in the history of Lafayette Square, the historic neighborhood a few steps from the president’s front door, named for a hero of the Revolutionary War. Slated for demolition to make way for monumental government office buildings in the early 1960s, the historic residential structures were spared when President and Mrs. Kennedy chose to pursue a creative solution inspired by the sketch of architect Grosvenor Chapman. We are pleased to publish his original sketch along with the story of how it came to President Kennedy’s attention.

This 120-page issue of White House History Quarterly retails for $12.95. To purchase a single issue, visit

To subscribe to White House History Quarterly, visit

To request a review copy of White House History Quarterly #73, or interview the contributors,

About White House History Quarterly

White House History Quarterly, published by the White House Historical Association since 1983, strives to present the broadest view of this personal American subject—the White House—featuring memoir, biography, history, and cultural context as it opens the doors of “America’s House” to America. Issues are thematic, shaped to tell a story from a particular angle, and the themes—from music, theater, fashion, art, entertaining, flowers and gardens, kitchens and cooking, presidential journeys and travel, memoir, and presidential kin and presidential sites—suggest the broad scope of the content. With editorial offices in Washington, D.C., at the Association's row house facing Lafayette Park across from the White House, White House History Quarterly is published four times each year. One, two, or three-year subscriptions, single copies, and bound collections of back issues are available.

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit