This roster is neither the first, nor will it (inevitably) be the last to single out certain individuals, who, by virtue of birth, rank, wealth, or accomplishment, take part in the social life of the nation’s capital. Estimable precursors – drumroll here – include “The Green Book,” so-called for its faux green suede cover, which has appeared continuously since 1930; and The Blue Book of Washington, which ceased publication around 1990 after a century in print. The Social Register, sometimes called the “Black Book,” also contains the names of numerous prominent local figures, many hailing from so-called “blue blood” families, although its thin Washington edition was merged into a much larger 12-city national version in the 1980s.
A key difference separating Washington Life’s list from the others – apart from having no discernible color – is that we do not publish a “phone book” of addresses and contact information, schools attended, club and yacht listings, and the like. Ours is merely an alphabetical nomenclature of people who make a difference by adding immeasureably to Washington’s political, diplomatic and cultural scene. Another point of contrast is size. Compared to the thousands of entries in other directories, WL’s Social List, currently about 700 names and counting, is a relatively small effort. As far as “official Washington” is concerned, we include only a select few of the more sociable (“dining out,” as they were once so charmingly called) members of the Congress, Cabinet, and Supreme Court.