According to the 1801 inventory of the White House in Washington D.C., the room we now know as the library was "Room 17," an unfinished basement chamber used for laundry and storage. (The laundry was dried elsewhere, and Abigail Adams was known to have hung wet laundry in the unfinished East Room upstairs.)
|The White House Library, looking west. Clinton Administration. Public Domain.|
A White House library had been first established during the Fillmore Administration (1850-1853) but in the early 1930's, First Lady Lou Hoover decided to move it to the ground floor from the Yellow Oval Room (above the Blue Room), and the locker room was refurbished into a small library. There were few books in the library at that time, so The American Booksellers Association donated books, and it is still tradition for the ABA to present the president with books.
During the Truman reconstruction of the White House in 1952, the room was paneled with salvaged timbers taken from the White House's former frame. In 1961, a committee was appointed to select specific works for the library which were deemed representative of American history, thought, and literature, as well as Presidential papers. These books are available to the Presidential family and staff.
|President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev are photographed in the White House Library, Dec. 8, 1987. Public Domain.|
|First Lady Barbara Bush reads to children in the Library during the 1990's. Public Domain. https://bush41library.tamu.edu/audiovisual/photos/44|
|Hayne Hudjihini - Eagle of Delight - by Charles Bird King, c. 1822. Public Domain.|
Soon after, Hudjihini died of measles. It is assumed she contracted the disease while traveling.
The original portrait of Eagle of Delight was kept at the Smithsonian Institution and sadly was destroyed in a fire in 1865, but King had made a personal copy, which was donated to the White House in 1962. a patron donated King's personal copy to the White House in 1962.
Today, the Library is used for interviews, small meetings, teas, and other intimate events.
|President Obama participates in an interview with Charlie Rose in the White House Library, Sunday, June 16, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) https://goo.gl/images/b2opfT|