Life in the White House

A Social History of the First Family and the President's House

Edited by Robert P. Watson

Subjects: Political Sociology, Architectural History/architecture, American History
Paperback : 9780791460986, 346 pages, May 2004
Hardcover : 9780791460979, 346 pages, May 2004

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Table of contents



Part I. Introduction: The "First Home"

Overview: Welcome to the White House

1. At Home with the First Families
Robert P. Watson

2. Political Architecture: The Building of the President's House
Russell L. Mahan

3. Rooms of Their Own: First Ladies and Their Impact on Historic White House Rooms
Elizabeth Lorelei Thacker-Estrada

Part II. Private Lives in a Public Home: Media Coverage of First Families

Overview: On Stage in a Public Home

4. The Media in Their Midst
Carol Lynn Bower

5. The Carter White House: The Public and Semiprivate Lives of the First Family
Virginia A. Chanley

6. A Tale of Two Brothers: Billy Carter, Roger Clinton, and the Media
Christopher S. Kelley

7. First Sons versus First Daughters: A Gender Bias in News Media Coverage?
Lori Cox Han

Part III. Profiles of First Families in the White House

Overview: Calling the White House "Home"

8. "A Hell on Earth": The Pierce Marriage During the White House Years, 1853-1857
Michael J. C. Taylor

9. TR's White House: The Biggest First Family
Tom Lansford

10. The Scandalous Hardings
James S. McCallops

Part IV. Preserving the President's House

Overview: A Mansion with a History

11. Renovating the White House: A Brief History
Robert E. Dewhirst

12. Preserving the President's House: The Office of the White House Curator
Michael E. Long

13. Edith Roosevelt and the 1902 White House Renovation
Tom Lansford

14. The Truman Renovations of the White House: The House That Harry (Re)Built
Raymond Frey



1. White House Floor Plan
2. First Families, 1789-2002





Interdisciplinary essays on the White House and the lives of first families.


This unique perspective on the White House, one of the most readily identifiable structures in the world, brings together the views of librarians, journalists, political advisers, attorneys, researchers, and professors. Filled with anecdotes, little-known facts, and scholarly analysis, the book shows how "The People's House" has been shaped and molded both architecturally and philosophically by the different administrations over the past 200 years.

Erudite and entertaining, Life in the White House looks at the social history of the first family, the creation of the president's home, and efforts by first families to carve out a space for the important business of family, while preserving the history of their famous residence. This public museum and private residence, which began as the result of a $500 Jefferson-era architectural design contest, now symbolizes one of the world's great superpowers.

Robert P. Watson is Associate Professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University. He has published several books, including the coedited volume (with Colton C. Campbell) Campaigns and Elections: Issues, Concepts, Cases.