The Research Papers of William Seale
The papers of writer and historian William Seale, an expert on the White House, as well as a renowned specialist in historic interiors and restorations, are now available in the Winterthur Library.
Dated from 1965 through 2017, Seale’s records document his research on the historic interiors of institutions such as state capitols, governors’ mansions, and historic homes. The records at Winterthur include files pertaining to the White House, the White House Historical Association, and his books about the White House, as well as correspondence, research notes, reports, floor plans, and photographs related to other historic buildings.
Seale passed away after an illness in November 2019. Trained as a historian, he earned a doctorate from Duke University. He began his career as a teacher at Lamar University, the University of Houston, the University of South Carolina, and Columbia University. A curator of cultural history at the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1970s, Seale later struck out on his own, researching and writing about the White House and the restorations of other historic buildings and state capitols.
Among his many projects were the historic houses Adena, Darnall’s Chance, Rosedown Plantation (Louisiana), Stratford Hall (Virginia), Travellers Rest (Nashville), and the George Eastman House; the capitols of Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio; the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park; and the governor’s mansions in Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky; and the old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville, Georgia.
Among scholars and casual readers, his President’s House, published in 1986, was influential in understanding the construction, architecture, and lifestyle of residents of that iconic building. He went on to publish many books about the executive residence. Seale founded the White House History Quarterly for the White House Historical Association in 1983 and edited more than 50 issues.
Seale was a popular speaker at antique forums, historical societies, preservation conferences, and other venues, and the collection contains texts of a number of his talks. Also found are drafts of some of his books, correspondence with publishers, some research notes for books, and advertisements and reviews of his books.
A finding aid is available at http://findingaid.winterthur.org/html/HTML_Finding_Aids/COL1006.htm.