Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Alonzo Fields Papers

Dates: 1939-1952; Bulk Date: 1952

Chief Butler in the White House 1933-1953

The papers of Alonzo Fields consist mainly of documents relating to Fields' position as Chief Butler in the White House from 1933-1953. The documents are dated from 1939-1952. Included in the collection are menus that Fields prepared for state dinners as well as Truman family meals. There are breakfast and lunch menus for the employees of the White House, and monthly reports on the amount and cost of food used by the White House kitchen. The collection contains programs for special events at the White House.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one half of one linear foot, about 200 pages.
Access: Open.
Copyright: Alonzo Fields has donated his copyright interest in any unpublished materials in this collection or in any other body of materials in government custody to the government of the United States. Documents prepared by government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents which do not fall into these two categories is presumed to remain with the creators of the documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Alisa Johnson (2000) as part of the Internship Program at the Truman Library.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and Amy Williams

[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1900 Born, Lyles Station, Indiana
1931-1933 Butler in the White House
March 1933-February 1953 Chief Butler and Maitre d'hôtel in the White House
1961 Author, My 21 Years in the White House
1994, March 22 Died, Cambridge, Massachusetts

[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Alonzo Fields consist mainly of documents relating to Fields's position as Chief Butler in the White House from 1933 to 1953. The documents are dated from 1939 to 1952. The majority of the documents are from 1952. The folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title in a single subject file. The collection consists of less than one half of one linear foot (about 200 pages) of material.

The collection includes many menus for meals hosted by the Trumans and records of the costs of running the White House kitchen. Included are menus that were approved by Harry, Bess, or Margaret Truman, which is noted by the writing on them. The menus are from luncheons, state dinners, and Cabinet dinners. Some of the individuals for whom dinners were prepared included Princess Elizabeth of England, the Prime Minister of Sweden, the Chancellor of Austria, Prince Charles, the Regent of Belgium, and the Queen and Prince of the Netherlands. Some of the menus include changes made by the Trumans and comments about their guests. With the menus, Fields has included his comments about the meal and memories of the events. There are also weekly menus from September, 1950 for the White House employees, who were provided with breakfast and lunch.

The Fields Papers also contain monthly reports, which break down the cost of food used by the White House kitchen for the Truman family. Contained in these reports is the cost of the food, the cost per plate, the number of family meals served during the month, and the increase or decrease in price per plate. Also included are reports concerning the amount of food used and the amount of remaining food. There are notes from Fields included with these reports commenting on which groups ate the most food, how the parties were run, and what special events occurred at dinners.

Also included in the collection are programs for various functions put on by the White House from 1939 to 1947. Among these were "A Program of American Music," held in 1939, which was a celebration of different forms of music. There is also an invitation to the Inauguration of President Franklin Roosevelt and Vice President Harry Truman, held on January 20, 1945. August 19, 1945 was declared a Day of Prayer by President Truman and a program for this "Thanksgiving for Victory" is also in the collection. There is also a transcript of a radio program, hosted by Mrs. Truman. The radio production was the 1947 March of Dimes National Women's Division Program. The guest of honor was Eleanor Roosevelt.

More information about White House social functions and household operations can be found in the Harry S. Truman Papers (Permanent File and White House Social Office Files), in Record Group 130 (Records of the White House Office: Records Relating to Accounts, Purchases and Personnel), and in other collections at the Truman Library.

[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 Subject File, 1939-1952; Bulk Date: 1952
Menus prepared by Fields for state dinners, family dinners and employee meals; monthly reports on the amount of food used in the kitchen and the cost of the food used, programs from various White House events; transcript of radio program for the March of Dimes hosted by Mrs. Truman with special guest, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, and notes written by Fields about different guests he served, and how the events were run. Arranged in alphabetical order.

[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


FOLDER TITLE LIST

SUBJECT FILE, 1939-1952; Bulk Date: 1952

Box 1

  • Menus for White House Employees-Weekly-Annotated- September 11-17, 1950
  • Menus-Official-Annotated-1940-52
  • Miscellaneous Programs 1939-1947
  • Monthly Stocks of Food-1952 (May-July)
  • Report on Food Costs for the Truman Family and White House Employees-1952 (February, March, April, June)
  • Reports on Items Used by White House Kitchen-1952 (Feb-May)
  • Work Sheets regarding Foods in White House Social Functions 1952 (April-November)

[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]