Fragmentary files and items removed from scrapbooks compiled by the Social Secretary which partially document selected luncheons, dinners, and other social events hosted by the President and his family. Items unique to this collection include the unpublished manuscripts for a book and article on White House social planning and an article on Christmas at the White House.

1.2 linear feet (ca. 2,000 pages)

Maria Anthony Downs (accession number 92-016)


Maria Downs has retained her copyright to all of her unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Prepared by Leesa Tobin, August 1992
[s:\bin\findaid\downs, maria - papers.doc]


Maria A. Downs

1931 - Born in Chicago, Illinois

1956-63 - Professional model in Chicago

1956 - Attended the Art Institute of Chicago

1958 - Attended DePaul University

1961 - Married John Edward Downs

1964 - Staff Assistant for the Goldwater for President Committee

1964-69 - Various positions at the Republican National Committee including Director of Women's Programs

1970-71 - Executive director of the Women's National Press Club

1971-73 - Special assistant to Anne Armstrong, co-chairman of the Republican National Committee

1973-74 - Special assistant to Anne Armstrong, Counsellor to the President

February 1975- - Executive assistant in the White House Bicentennial Liaison Office

Oct. 1975-Jan. 1977 - White House Social Secretary


Maria Downs replaced Nancy Lammerding Ruwe as White House Social Secretary in October 1975, remaining in that position until the end of the administration. The Downs Papers partially document some aspects of her role in planning White House social activities. Unique to the collection are several unpublished manuscripts written by Ms. Downs after leaving the White House which describe in unusual detail the role of the White House Social Office and what President and Mrs. Ford were like as hosts.

Prior to becoming White House Social Secretary, Downs worked in the White House Office of Bicentennial Liaison and earlier as staff assistant to Anne Armstrong, Counsellor to the President. She was involved for many years in Republican politics and had been on the staff of the Republican National Committee.

The White House Social Secretary worked closely with the First Lady and the West Wing staff in the overall planning, arrangements, coordination and direction of all official and private social events hosted by the President and his family. Downs supervised a staff of nine which included the Social Entertainments Office and the White House calligraphers and illustrators. Additionally, she oversaw dozens of volunteers who assisted with preparations for many of the more elaborate affairs.

This collection includes only selected items on some of the social events Ms. Downs planned for the Fords. Most of these are photocopies removed by Library staff from scrapbooks compiled by Ms. Downs. While the collection is far less complete than the Downs Papers in terms of documenting individual events, it does include several unique items. Perhaps most significant is the unpublished manuscript of a book written by Ms. Downs entitled, Mostly Wine and Roses. It is a candid and upbeat account of social events hosted by President and Mrs. Ford during the administration. The file also includes two shorter unpublished pieces; an article about Mrs. Ford as First Lady and another concerning Christmas celebrations in the White House. Both provide unique insights.

Related Materials (August 1992)
For information on particular White House social events, researchers should be sure to consult the Maria Downs Files. This collection includes extensive documentation on individual events, especially concerning the food, entertainment, and decor each featured. A closely related collection is the Sheila Weidenfeld Files, the First Lady's Press Secretary. The Betty Ford Papers' Events File also includes material on social affairs; much of this is duplicated in the Downs Files and Papers, but there are unique memoranda between the Social Secretary and the First Lady. Additionally, the White House Central Files Subject File PP 5-1 (Betty Ford) and SO (Social Affairs) include related material.

Audiovisual holdings about White House social events are plentiful and include thousands of still photographs and video tapes of state dinners and other selected events.


Subject File, 1974-77.  (Boxes 1-3, 1.2 linear feet)
Correspondence, memoranda, scenarios, press releases,news clippings, printed programs and unpublished manuscripts for a book and two articles concerning Downs activities as Social Secretary. Documentation for particular events is fragmentary and available in more complete form in other collections. Unique to this collection are unpublished manuscripts for a book and two articles written by Downs concerning social events and Christmas celebrations at the White House. The file also includes information on Downs appointment as Social Secretary.

Arranged alphabetically with a subseries arranged chronologically by date of event.

View container list for this series


Box 1 - Subject File

  • Downs, Maria
    - Air Force One Certificate
    - Appointment as White House Social Secretary, 10/75
    - Appointments White House Social Secretary, 10/75 - Congratulatory Mail (1)-(4)
    - Article, "Christmas at the White House" (unpublished)
    - Article, "My Very Special Lady" (unpublished)
    - Book, "Mostly Wine and Roses" (1) (unpublished)
    - Book, "Mostly Wine and Roses" (2) (unpublished)
    - Letters from President and Mrs. Ford
    - List of Social Entertainment Office Events
  • Events
    - State Dinner for Egypt, 10/27/75
    - Cabinet Dinner, 11/6/75
    - State Dinner for Luxembourg, 11/12/75
    - Dinner with Senior Citizens, 11/20/75

Box 2 - Subject File

  • Events
    - Dinner for the Federal Judiciary, 11/24/75
    - Diplomatic Children's Christmas Party, 12/16/75
    - Congressional Christmas Ball, 12/17/75
    - Christmas Party for the White House Press Corps, 12/17/75
    - Candlelight Tour for White House Staff and Families, 12/22 - 23/75
    - Luncheon for Governors, 1/20/76
    - State Dinner for Israel, 1/27/76
    - Professional Athletes Prayer Brunch, 2/15/76
    - Dinner for Governors, 2/23/76
    - State Dinner for Ireland, 3/17/76
    - Luncheon for the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, 3/22/76
    - State Dinner for Jordan, 3/30/76
    - Reception for Arthur Rubinstein, 4/1/76
    - Reception for the National Alliance of Businessmen, 4/6/76
    - Luncheon for Newspaper Executives, 4/7/76
    - Luncheon for Senate Ladies, 5/3/76
    - Luncheon for Jaycee '49ers, 5/5/76
    - Bridal Shower for Margaret Anderson, 5/8/76
    - Luncheon for the Queen and Prince of Denmark, 5/11/76
    - State Dinner for France, 5/17/76
    - State Dinner for Spain, 6/2/76
    - Birthday Party for Mrs. Rockefeller on Sequoia, 6/9/76
    - Dance for Presidential Appointees, 6/11/76
    - Dance for Prime Minister Trudeau Aboard the Sequoia, 6/16/76
    - Political Working Dinner, 6/21/76
    - Dinner for West Virginia Delegates-at-large, 6/25/1976
    - Luncheon for Prime Minister Miki of Japan, 6/30/76

Box 3 - Subject File

  • Events
    - State Dinner for Great Britain, 7/7/76
    - State Dinner for the Federal Republic of Germany, 7/15/76
    - Diplomatic Reception for the American Bicentennial, 7/20/76
    - State Dinner for Australia, 7/27/76
    - Luncheon for the President's Yale Law School Fraternity, 7/31/76
    - State Dinner for Finland, 8/3/76
    - State Dinner for Liberia, 9/21/76
    - Dinner for Martha Graham, 10/14/76
    - State Dinner for Italy, 12/6/76
    - Congressional Christmas Ball, 12/9/76
    - Dinner for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 12/11/76
    - Christmas Party for the White House Press Corps, 12/15/76
    - Christmas Party for the White House Staff, 12/17/76
    - Candlelight Tour for White House Staff and Families, 12/20-21/76
    - Dinner for the Chowder and Marching Society, 1/7/77
    - Luncheon for Medal of Freedom Award Winners, 1/10/77
  • White House Christmas Card, 1975
  • White House Christmas Card, 1976
  • White House Floor Plans
  • White House Memoranda
  • White House Social Events - Clippings
  • Museum Transfers