Since 1878, American presidents and their families have celebrated Easter Monday by hosting an 'egg roll' party. Held on the South Lawn, it is one of the oldest annual events in White House history. Some historians note that First Lady Dolley Madison originally suggested the idea of a public egg roll, while others tell stories of informal egg-rolling parties at the White House dating back to President Lincoln's administration. Beginning in the 1870s, Washingtonians from all social levels celebrated Easter Monday on the west grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Children rolled brilliantly dyed hard-boiled eggs down the terraced lawn.
Soon a concern for the landscape led to a bill that banned the rolling of eggs on Capitol grounds. In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law. The new edict went unchallenged in 1877, as rain cancelled all the day's activities, but egg rollers who came in 1878 were ejected by Capitol Hill police.
1890-1923: Library of Congress, the Martin Luther King Jr. Library - Washingtonia Division
Source Credits: C.L. Arbelbide, "With Easter Monday You Get Egg Roll at the White House," Prologue, Volume 32, Spring 2000; White House Curator's Files, and the White House Historical Association Files