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Dorothy Dow Butturff papers

Identifier: GTM-860602
The Dorothy Dow Butturff papers comprise 2 boxes of her correspondence used in McClure's book, as well as other letters and related manuscript material. Box 1 consists of correspondence from such White House worthies as Mrs. Roosevelt; James Roosevelt; Malvina Thompson; Edith Helm; and George T. Bye, Mrs. Roosevelt's literary agent. The major portion of the correpsondence deals with a book Mrs. Butturff has proposed to publish. Box 2 contains manuscript copes of Mrs. Butturff's letters as a white House social secretary from 1933 - 1945 as well as related materials (i.e. book reviews). Photographs of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; Fala; Dorothy Dow; Malvina Thompson; Donald Dawson; the John F. Kennedys; and the Lyndon B. Johnsons are found in Box 1.


  • 1933-1985


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Biographical / Historical

Dorothy Dow Butturff, White House social secretary, was born on March 1, 1904 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She attended the La Crosse State Normal School graduating in 1922. From 1923 to 1928, Mrs. Butturff taught in the Wauwatosa and Ashland, Wisconsin public school systems. The following year, shebattended business course as the La Crosse Vocational School.

Mrs. Butturff began her government career in 1930 with her appointment as a secretary in the Department of the Interior. She was transferred to the White House Social Bureau, which attended to the mail adressed to the First Lady, following President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first inauguration in 1933 and remained until 1957. From 1933 to 1945, she was assistant to Eleanor Roosevelt's personal secretary, Malvina Thompson Scheider, dividing her time between the White House and the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park, New York. Mrs. Butturff went to Hyde Park in the summer of 1938, spending part of the summers there from 1939 to 1941. She returned to assist with the fllod of condolence letters regarding the death of President Roosevelt in April, 1945.

During her White House years of "life on the merry-go-round in an elevator with the Roosevelts," Mrs. Butturff wrote many fascinating letters to her family detailing her varied experiences as a White House staff member. In 1984, these letters were edited by Ruth K. McLure and published as Eleanor Roosevelt, An Eager Spirit: The Letters of Dorothy Dow 1933 - 1945. In 1946, she transferred to the correspondence section of the Executive Office of the President, soon moving to Office of Presidential Appointments, where she remained until her retirement in 1957.

Dorothy Dow married Robert R. Butturff on October 20, 1934. He died on February 15, 1976. Mrs. Butturff was a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland.

Custodial History

Acquired from Mrs. Butturff, 1985 and 1986. The Dorothy Dow Butturff "Personal Letters of a White House Social Secretary 1933 - 1945" correspondence and manuscripts were acquired from her daughter, Mrs. Barbara Butturff Delaney, in 1986.
Dorothy Dow Butturff papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
24 February 1986
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Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017: Transcription of finding aid created by Anna T. Zakarija, 1986

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository