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Dorothy Dow Butturff papers

Identifier: GTM-860602

Scope and Contents

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

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

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 she attended business courses at 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 addressed to the First Lady, following President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first inauguration in 1933. She remained there 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. She assisted with the flood 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. Dorothy Dow Butturff died on July 20, 1995 in San Francisco.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

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
Anna T. Zacharija, Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057