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Inside the White House: Sincerely, Bill Clinton - Presidential Correspondence Today

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In today's fast-paced world, communicating with the President is easier than ever before. In 1993, President Clinton became the first President in history to have a public e-mail address. That same year, the White House launched its first web site (). Since then, electronic mail has come to the White House from all across the globe. Senator John Glenn, on his second historic space flight, even sent an e-mail message from space directly to President Clinton at the White House!

President Clinton enjoys reading his mail very much and does his best to respond to those who write to him. In fact, there are some very special offices within the White House that do just that — help the President stay in touch with people across America and around the world.

The Department of Presidential Correspondence has within it several offices whose sole purpose is to help citizens communicate with their President and their government. One of these special offices is the White House Comment Line and Greetings Office. In the 1970s, the White House switchboard operators became so overwhelmed that President Richard Nixon's staff invited volunteers to come to the White House to help answer the thousands of daily calls. These volunteers, some of whom have served numerous Administrations, staff the White House Comment Line. In addition, they address Presidential greeting cards for events such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, and Gold and Eagle Scout awards, just to name a few.

The Office of Presidential Letters and Messages is one of the busiest in the White House. There, skilled writers and editors help the President respond to those who have written to him by carefully bringing together his policies and initiatives in the letters that will bear his signature. They also help President Clinton prepare his official proclamations, which recognize observances such as "National Children's Day," "Mother's Day," "National Day of Concern about Young People and Gun Violence," and "National Adoption Month." And they help him stay in touch with groups across our country by preparing some 6,000 messages that he sends each year for events he is unable to attend.

The Office of Agency Liaison is one in which President Clinton takes a special interest. There, dedicated caseworkers provide assistance to countless Americans who need help with a variety of problems. The Agency Liaison staff has been trained to know about all aspects of the federal government. For instance, they know exactly where to refer a letter from someone suggesting a new battle monument in Washington, D.C. (the American Battle Monuments Commission); where to refer someone who aspires to be a Foreign Service Officer (the State Department); and where to send a letter from a young person who is concerned because his or her school is not accessible for students with disabilities (the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board). The Agency Liaison staff always lends a sympathetic ear to the thousands of Americans who count on President Clinton to help them.

Presidential Support Staff proofread a document before sending it to the President for his signature.
Presidential Support Staff proofread a document before sending it to the President for his signature.

Ever wonder who helps the President type all those thousands of letters, messages, proclamations, and other official documents? One of the best-kept secrets in the White House is the lightning speed at which the staff of the Office of Presidential Support can type and print a document for the President's signature. Rumor has it that the fastest typist can type more than 100 words per minute! As the computer age has taken over the days of the typewriter, Presidential Support has seen it all — manual typewriters, electric typewriters, robotype machines that used paper tape, magnetic tape typewriters, plus numerous other pieces of automated word processing equipment designed to increase speed, volume, and accuracy. Presidential Support also proudly has as its director one of the longest-serving White House employees, who has worked at the White House since the days of President Kennedy!

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Spring 2000

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