It must be quite a thrill to actually receive a Christmas card from the President of the United States. For more than half a century there have been official greeting cards from the White House going out to a select number of people for the holidays.
The traditional practice has endured through bright days and dark days, through times of peace and times of conflict. Today the Christmas cards - oops - "Holiday" cards of presidents past are a significant area of holiday collectibles. Thanks to the modern technology of digitization I am able to share with you some of the highlights of Christmas cards sent out from the White House families.
Written on White House stationary in his own hand in 1927, President Calvin Coolidge issued the first official Christmas message to the American people. As a response to numerous requests for the President to send a holiday greeting, President Coolidge asked newspapers across the United States to publish his holiday greeting to the American people.
In 1931 the president and Mrs. Hoover reproduced favorite family photographs for family, friends, and staff. As an added touch Hoover personalized the holiday greetings photographs with hand-written messages in the margins.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced more of a stylized Christmas card in 1937 which was provided by the distinguished Brewood Engravers. The single-sided FDR offering was a small, three by four inch lithograph of a snow-covered farm with two red barns and two green fir trees. The inscription said simply, “Christmas 1937.” Basically the Christmas cards remained unchanged for the next several years, except for updating the numbers of the year.
Similar to the Roosevelt’s 1935 card, the official 1942 Presidential Christmas card was a single-sided black and white photograph of the President and Mrs. Roosevelt sitting outside of the Oval Office at a drop leaf table. The greeting on the card read, “With Christmas Greetings and our Best Wishes for a Happier New Year, The President and Mrs. Roosevelt.”
During the renovation of the White House from November 1948 until March 1952, the President and Mrs. Truman lived in Blair House. The 1951 photo print of the Blair House sent Christmas Greetings to the President and Mrs. Truman’s friends, family and Cabinet.
President Eisenhower expanded the list of Presidential Christmas cards recipients significantly to 1300 in 1953; the President sent season’s greetings to American ambassadors abroad, members of the Cabinet and Congress, foreign heads of state and government officials. Thereafter, the official Presidential Holiday Greeting was the White House Christmas card.
The design of the Kennedy’s 1961 official card was the Presidential Seal and the words “Season’s Greetings 1961” on smooth white card stock with a wide green silk screen border. The sentiment inside the card read, “The President and Mrs. Kennedy Wish you a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
The 1986 official White House Christmas card was the first card in a series of paintings by Thomas William Jones. Mrs. Reagan showcased three White House rooms that had not previously been the subject of a Presidential Christmas card. The East Room was highlighted for the 1986 card. The State Dining Room and the North Entry Hall were showcased the next two years.
After the renovation of the Blue Room in the White House, the President and Mrs. Clinton asked Thomas McKnight to provide an artistic image of the Blue Room for their official 1995 Christmas cards. The "Fantasy Blue Room" depicted a cozy room with the Christmas tree in the corner and the White House animals sleeping underneath.
Lastly, in present time, President Obama and family have departed from the flat, colorful displays of past cards, this year's features a pop-up White House, with Bo and Sunny walking along the front of their home.
Warmest thougths and best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season from Konica Minolta ECM!