This collection consists of historical materials related to John Woodson Ficklin’s career in the White House.
This collection was donated by John Wrory Ficklin, John W. Ficklin’s son. The majority of the donation consists of museum objects and audiovisual materials. The objects are multiple large framed photographs, pens, oversize Christmas cards and other types of artifacts. For storage and preservation these items were removed and now make up a separate Ficklin objects collection housed and administered by the museum staff at the Library. An item-by-item list of all of the objects transferred to this separate collection is at the end of this inventory.
The remaining material makes up the John Woodson Ficklin Papers at the Reagan Library. The material is dated from 1946 through 1994. The material has been arranged within two series: White House Maitre D’ Textual Materials, 1947-1994 and White House Maitre D’ Audio-Visual Materials, 1946-1984.
The material that post-dates Ficklin’s death is from his son John Wrory Ficklin. This includes his email to the Washington Post correcting Wil Haygood’s contention that Eugene Allen was the first maitre d’ to attend a state dinner. Haygood, the author of The Butler: A Witness to History, and an associate producer on the movie adaptation of his book, wrote an article about being on the movie set in WP, July 28, 2013. He states that Allen was “the first butler in the history of the White House to be a guest at a state dinner.” Ficklin’s son included a series of email exchanges with the WP copy chief who promised a printed correction.
This post-mortem material also includes an interview with John Wrory Ficklin about his father’s career in Footsteps: African-American History: Blacks and the White House, 2002; the announcement of the donation of this collection to the Reagan Library and selected images from the collection in Washingtonian, July 2014; a Smithsonian Institution Folklife/Cultural studies project program with a photo of Ficklin Workers at the White House, 2002; and Christmas cards for John Wrory Ficklin and his family from President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush.
This series consists of thank you letters to Ficklin on numerous topics and events; notes on Ficklin’s health, notes on the death of Ficklin’s brother Charles, retirement congratulations notes; 25th anniversary congratulations to John Ficklin; Christmas cards; invitations; and general correspondence to Ficklin in his capacity as head butler. Correspondents include Presidents Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter; First Ladies Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; Lady Byrd Johnson, Patricia Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalyn Carter and Nancy Reagan; Presidential children including Luci Johnson Nugent, Lynda Johnson Robb, Tricia Nixon Cox, and Susan Ford; and White House Social Secretaries Bess Abell, Lucy Winchester, Gretchen Poston, and Mabel “Muffie” Brandon.
Also included is material on the state dinner attended by Ficklin and his wife, Nancy. It includes the guest list, the menu, the program and both Ficklins got autographs on the back of their menus from all of the guests at their respective tables. This series also has random items which may or may not have had significance for Mr. Ficklin including the event program for the visit of Pope John Paul II to the White House in 1979; a poster on the surrender of the Japanese in World War II; invitation to the opening of the John F. Kennedy Library and the christening of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, information on the John Quincy and Louisa Adams portraits; a White House dinner menu from 1953 and a White House luncheon menu from 1969; an assortment of table place cards; a single catering bill; and a florist card from the White House to Ficklin.
The series also contains two scripts/proposals for programs on the White House staff and possible input from Ficklin; invitations to White House weddings and to Susan Ford’s wedding in California; programs and items from memorial services for President Kennedy and Presient Johnson; correspondence with former butlers/maitre d’s John Pye and Alonzo Fields; publications on the White House, and numerous news clippings about Mr. Ficklin, his life and domestic service work at the White House.
Five photograph albums were part of this donated collection. The albums were identified by the creator or the donor (this is unclear) as letters A-D, and also included an “E” volume. We removed the photos from the albums, sleeved the photos when possible, and for preservation reasons have moved these photographs to the audio visual storage area. We have provided an item list of these photographs
The photographs contained in each album are numbered 1, 2, etc., and we have retained this marking. Mr. Ficklin identified some of the people in the photographs but he was unable to identify all of the individuals. Where a question mark is noted, Ficklin could not identify the individual. People are identified from left to right in each photograph.
Please request to see this material from the audio-visual archivist, Steve Branch.
Last Updated: 09/27/2020 05:08AM