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White House Diary, first published in 1948, is the entertaining account of Henrietta Nesbitt – “FDR's Housekeeper” – during the historical times of Franklin Roosevelt's long presidency. Nesbitt, a neighbor of the Roosevelts in Hyde Park, New York, went with the President to the White House and served an important role in the family and social life of the White House for 11 White House Diary, first published in 1948, is the entertaining account of Henrietta Nesbitt – “FDR's Housekeeper” – during the historical times of Franklin Roosevelt's long presidency. Nesbitt, a neighbor of the Roosevelts in Hyde Park, New York, went with the President to the White House and served an important role in the family and social life of the White House for 11 years. Nesbitt was responsible for thousands of meals during her tenure (including her struggles to comply with war-time rationing); at the same time, the President's mansion was in a state of disrepair, and Nesbitt oversaw the installation of a new kitchen, replacement of draperies and rugs, and continual battles against mice, moths, ants, and other pests. Nesbitt also provides insights into the character of the Roosevelts and of some of the many VIPs who visited the White House.


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White House Diary, first published in 1948, is the entertaining account of Henrietta Nesbitt – “FDR's Housekeeper” – during the historical times of Franklin Roosevelt's long presidency. Nesbitt, a neighbor of the Roosevelts in Hyde Park, New York, went with the President to the White House and served an important role in the family and social life of the White House for 11 White House Diary, first published in 1948, is the entertaining account of Henrietta Nesbitt – “FDR's Housekeeper” – during the historical times of Franklin Roosevelt's long presidency. Nesbitt, a neighbor of the Roosevelts in Hyde Park, New York, went with the President to the White House and served an important role in the family and social life of the White House for 11 years. Nesbitt was responsible for thousands of meals during her tenure (including her struggles to comply with war-time rationing); at the same time, the President's mansion was in a state of disrepair, and Nesbitt oversaw the installation of a new kitchen, replacement of draperies and rugs, and continual battles against mice, moths, ants, and other pests. Nesbitt also provides insights into the character of the Roosevelts and of some of the many VIPs who visited the White House.

30 review for White House Diary

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    A priceless historical document, but not for the reasons you'd expect . . . Mrs. Nesbitt didn't bother much with affairs of state, she was too busy planning menus and lobbying the Treasury for new drapes, but she was very much a woman of her time, a nice lady and a loyal employee, but prone to phrases like "woman's joy is to prink a table," convinced of the practical value of segregation, and shocked (albeit pleasantly so) that the average dinner could be reduced from seven courses to three. I h A priceless historical document, but not for the reasons you'd expect . . . Mrs. Nesbitt didn't bother much with affairs of state, she was too busy planning menus and lobbying the Treasury for new drapes, but she was very much a woman of her time, a nice lady and a loyal employee, but prone to phrases like "woman's joy is to prink a table," convinced of the practical value of segregation, and shocked (albeit pleasantly so) that the average dinner could be reduced from seven courses to three. I had to Google several of the dishes which Mrs. Nesbitt served the Roosevelts and their guests, and there weren't many results.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Book sale find. Library 1st Edition (1948) – This copy still has some of the library card sleeve pasted in. Best of all, it still has the scent of old library. This was a tidy time capsule. What a contrast of times! Can anyone imagine the white house before police were needed everywhere?! Nails for coat hooks? To think Henrietta was horrified at the state of the kitchen, wood drains and refrigerators with wood shelves. Mrs Nesbitt and her husband were invited to the WH by Mrs R to be the Housekee Book sale find. Library 1st Edition (1948) – This copy still has some of the library card sleeve pasted in. Best of all, it still has the scent of old library. This was a tidy time capsule. What a contrast of times! Can anyone imagine the white house before police were needed everywhere?! Nails for coat hooks? To think Henrietta was horrified at the state of the kitchen, wood drains and refrigerators with wood shelves. Mrs Nesbitt and her husband were invited to the WH by Mrs R to be the Housekeepers and this is Mrs. Nesbitts tribute to Mrs Roosevelt. This was all about the care and feeding of White House dinner guests, meal planning, catering to the whims of house guests, house care and repair, linens, carpets and curtains. I’d love to know how her world compared to present times. The budget described for housekeeping seemed modest and they were held to it. The years of rationing affected the White House as well. Gifts of food stuff were accepted and rounded out the budget. She wrote of menus, favorite foods and recipes. How the quantity of guests at a function fluctuated drastically and they had to cope. Rushing around Washington locating shop keepers to open stores at all hours, asking hotel kitchens to help out, hard to imagine that kind of organization without the benefit of today’s technology. Mrs Nesbitt had great affection for the Roosevelts and was very devoted to them. So there is no real negativity at all in this book. She did describe how informal they were, dogs and kids and many personal guests allowed to be, well, less than careful. She knew wrote nothing of government business, nor of any personal relationships. She did describe how discarded papers from meetings were burned and watched over by staff or military officers. On one occasion, during an intense meeting, she received a request to find a “dumb” staff person to take care of whatever they needed in the room. There were quite a few interesting tasks that she had to take care of such as taking care of requests for White House souvenirs. Two of the strangest were a WH mouse trap and a wishbone that the President had eaten on. Speaking of mouse traps…she did have an ongoing battle with ants, moths and rodents. Other notations I made: when they were do some renovating, they came across the Masonic Emblem. Mr Nesbitt was a member. Another mention was Joseph F Lash. He first made an appearance in a Youth Conference…and then seemed to become a regular in the later part of the book. He wrote a few books about the Roosevelt’s which I own but haven’t read…yet! NOTE- Reading No Ordinary Time - Seems in this book FDR does NOT get along with Mrs Nesbitt. She apparently overrules his requests and he would love to fire her! I LOVE to find these tidbits!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This is an invaluable resource as a contemporary account during the White House FDR years. Henrietta Nesbitt was a no nonsense woman of her time. And while not scholarly (or objective), she was able to share first hand accounts of the daily activities she oversaw as head housekeeper. As a side note: I appreciated reading about her apparent respect and high regard for the first lady.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Den

    Rather interesting read. Henrietta Nesbitt surely gave you a behind the scences look at what it took/takes to run the White House. I love reading all of these types of books. My only gripe was that word misspellings etc. were a bit much.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Historically satisfying... I must say I really enjoyed this book. I love history anyway & this was a good read on one woman's journey to the white house. I enjoyed the menus and food preparation for visitors and I don't understand why some people call these bland meals. To me, they are some of America's best food. Me. Density also gave me a better understanding of the first lady. Seems she was an intelligent caring human being. Historically satisfying... I must say I really enjoyed this book. I love history anyway & this was a good read on one woman's journey to the white house. I enjoyed the menus and food preparation for visitors and I don't understand why some people call these bland meals. To me, they are some of America's best food. Me. Density also gave me a better understanding of the first lady. Seems she was an intelligent caring human being.

  6. 5 out of 5

    May

    Written in simple language the book offers insight into the goings on at the White House behind the scenes during the administration of FDR. Hearing menus and how entertaining was managed during the war ration years was interesting. It was easy to see that the author held the President and First Lady in high esteem.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Lawton

    Part of the Historic Record As an old history teacher I believe this book to be a real treasure, one that recalls a past time of great importance.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dav936

  10. 4 out of 5

    Norma Hannon

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adam Warber

  12. 4 out of 5

    JoAnn Zippe

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura Broadwater

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nita

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ken Roberts

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joy Fry

  17. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Simon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Jepson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pam Davis

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ellen Rhatigan

  22. 4 out of 5

    margaret shaw

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  24. 4 out of 5

    anne pittenger

  25. 5 out of 5

    marjorie Donofrio

  26. 4 out of 5

    Linda Zantene

  27. 5 out of 5

    Debra Friedman

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judylhenry13

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gail

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Holland

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