“Enclosed is an invitation I received from the White House” 1978

James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981

Letter to my sister


On page two, I wrote: “Also, I have another painting. This one is of a boat house on Long Island. It is neat.”

This is the painting that hung in my office in 1978: Harry Gottleib’s Ice House.
Exhibition Label
As workers like these knew well, it was cold, hard work filling the icehouses of upstate New York. In January 1934, artist Harry Gottlieb signed on with the PWAP and looked for American workers he could paint near his home in the artists’ colony of Woodstock, New York. He found these men harvesting ice off lakes and streams as local men had done every winter since the early 1800s. They sawed the thick layer of natural ice into long strips and then cut off large blocks. As Gottlieb’s painting shows, the red-faced workers dressed in warm coats used long hooks and wooden ramps to maneuver the slick, heavy ice into large commercial icehouses where they neatly stacked the blocks. Straw or sawdust packing minimized melting in warm weather. Throughout the year icehouses along the Hudson River stored ice that was shipped by train to New York City. Families and grocers put the ice into insulated iceboxes that kept food from spoiling. Artificial freezing dominated ice production after World War I, and then electric refrigerators became popular. When Gottlieb documented the natural ice business it was gradually melting away.
1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label
Filling the Ice House
Harry Gottlieb
On View
Not on view.
40 3/8 x 60 3/8 in. (102.5 x 153.4 cm)
Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
New Deal – Public Works of Art Project – New York State
Figure group – male
Occupation – industry – ice cutting
Object Number






Page two of two

“I HAVE a secret to tell you. Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall has mice in his office. In fact, there are mice all up and down the second floor at the U.S. Department of Labor building in Washington, D.C. I have mice in my office. There are mice in the offices of the staff. There are mice in the conference rooms. When the coal negotiations were taking place in what the papers called the “blue-curtained room down the hall from Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall’s office,” there were mouse traps.”