Back to Musings (Blog)

Washington D.C.

Throwback Thursday ~Picture Books
I love finding old children’s books in thrift stores. It’s great discovering out of print books I’ve never seen before from authors I know (like Maurice Sendak) or books with a bit of history attached. And the artwork, all the illustrations from a time gone by–I love those too! Just incase those who say, ‘print is dead’ are right, I’ve started a small collection of vintage children’s books and I’d love to share them with you here. This is the first post in this series.  

It’s now day 10 of the government shutdown. While we all wait hopefully for good news from Washington, I’ve found something that may cheer you up.

Two treasures from one of my favorite Thrift shops-

The White House: An Historic Guide from the White House Historical Association (1963)


The First Book of the White House by Lois Perry Jones,  Illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher (1965 Franklin Watts, Inc.)

The White House


In the front of this book is a letter typed by Jacqueline Kennedy.

“This guidebook is for all of the people who visit the White House each year.”

She states, “It was planned – at first – for the children… But as research went on and so many little-known facts were gleaned from forgotten papers, it was decided to make it a book that could profit adults and scholars also.”

“On the theory that it never hurts a child to read something that may be above his head, and that books written down for children often do not awaken a dormant curiosity, this guidebook took its present form.

I hope our young visitors will vindicate this theory, find pleasure in the book, and know they were its inspiration.”

It was this letter from Jacqueline Kennedy that piqued my own curiosity in this book about The White House. As a writer of children’s books it’s fascinating to hear the story behind the story, what it is that inspires others to write. I love that her letter was included in the book.

the first book

The second book shares the history of The White House. It lists The White House Families from John Adam to Lyndon Baines Johnson. It’s also full of fun facts about the Presidents and what their daily lives were like while living in The White House.

Just a few of my favorites from the book:

•President Harding was handsome and jovial. He worked only two or three hours a day and loved to play golf and poker with his friends.

•During World War II, Mrs. Roosevelt often invited wounded servicemen in to tea.

•Our country was sixty-five years old before Congress decided that it should pay the salaries of the President’s staff. Then each year $2,500 was set aside for a secretary, $1,200 for a steward, and $900 for a messenger.

•President McKinley had a staff of twenty-seven, and about $44,500 was spent in a year for the White House Office. By then, the President received around 100 letters a day.

•Some White House employees may see the President only infrequently, such as the chief of correspondence, who each day measures how many feet of mail the President gets and sees that all the letters are answered…

I’m fascinated by the chief of correspondence who measured the mail and made sure all the letters were answered. I wonder what the policy on mail is today. Just imagine the change in how we communicate. It’s fun to look back at the history of it all.

What are some of your favorite historical children’s books?

Share this post

Comment (1)

  • Maurice Sendak | Laura Ann Miller Reply

    […] riding along the New River, and ice cream treats before dinner, I’m happy to be posting the second in a series I’m sharing of my vintage children’s books found in local thrift […]

    October 18, 2013 at 11:58 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to Musings (Blog)