Press/Journalists

Press Release
July 11, 2007

The National Archives Opens Federal Nixon Library, Releases Previously-Restricted Documents and Tapes

Yorba Linda, CA . . . Today the National Archives and Records Administration opened the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. The new Library joins eleven other federally-operated libraries for Presidents from Herbert Hoover onward. Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein made the announcement at an 8 a.m. (PDT) ceremony for staff and friends at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA.

By agreement between the private Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation and the National Archives, control over the bulk of the facilities of the private Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace were transferred over to the federal government for use by the new Library. In addition, the transfer agreement gave to the Federal government presidential materials previously returned to President Nixon and his estate in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, the National Archives today is marking the establishment of the new Library by releasing approximately 78,000 pages of previously restricted documents focusing on political activities of Richard Nixon and the Nixon administration.

The National Archives is also opening 11 1/2 hours of tape-recorded conversations revealing his thoughts on the 1972 Presidential and Congressional elections and his plans for the reorganization of his administration in its second term. These papers and many of the taped conversations are available due to a deed of gift from the private Nixon Foundation to the National Archives. The new Nixon Library also unveiled its web site at www.nixonlibrary.gov.

"This is a long-awaited milestone in Presidential library history," said Professor Weinstein. "Historians, researchers, and the general public will eventually be able to come to this library and find all of President Nixon's materials under one roof."

Weinstein said that the transfer of the facility makes possible the eventual consolidation of Richard Nixon's pre-Presidential and post-Presidential materials, which have been housed in the private facility since 1990, with the official records of his administration that are currently at a National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland.

"President Nixon's administration is the best-documented Presidency in American history," Professor Weinstein added. "It will be an important destination for anyone interested in the Cold War, in U.S. relations with China and the Soviet Union, the Vietnam War and its impact at home, dramatic changes in the nation's economy, in the history of the Watergate scandal, and in the history of the Presidency.

"The new Nixon Library will be a nonpartisan facility that will provide an interactive, 360 degree view of the life and times of Richard Nixon," Professor Weinstein said, noting that the Library and Museum will be staffed by federal employees who report to the National Archives.

In 2006, Professor Weinstein designated presidential historian Timothy Naftali as the first director of the new Federal Nixon Library. Dr. Naftali emphasized that the new Library will be a major resource for everyone interested in modern American history. "The new Library belongs to the people of the United States," Dr. Naftali said. "It will be a center of discussion, debate, and scholarly exploration. Its mission is to inspire a love of history and critical thinking."

Background on Released Materials

The materials being released today were returned to Richard Nixon and his estate by the National Archives because they were deemed not to relate to the statutory duties of the President or relate to abuses of governmental power, as defined by the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 and its implementing public access regulations. As part of the agreement governing the transfer of the Nixon Library to the National Archives, the Foundation has donated these important materials to the National Archives to be released to the public.

Most of the documents being released today come from a special file created by the Nixon White House in 1972 for politically sensitive materials. In addition, the release includes documents from the files of his closest aides, including chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, domestic adviser John Ehrlichman, and political adviser Charles Colson. The National Archives is also releasing approximately 20,000 pages from the White House Central Files that had been returned to Nixon under PRMPA.

These materials provide new insight into the political strategies of the Nixon White House and Richard Nixon's 1968 and 1972 Presidential campaigns. They also shed new light on Richard Nixon's role as a political strategist, analyst and tactician. The materials include correspondence with or about many important politicians and public figures, including George H. W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower, Billy Graham, Frank Sinatra, O. J. Simpson, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dole.

The tapes release comprises 165 conversations, totaling approximately 11 1/2 hours, secretly recorded between November 3, 1972, and November 19, 1972, that took place in the Oval Office, in the President's Old Executive Office Building (EOB) office, and on certain telephones in the Oval Office, the President's EOB office, and in the Lincoln Sitting Room in the residence of the White House.

The conversations capture President Nixon and his aides discussing the 1972 Presidential and congressional elections and the President's decision to reorganize his administration by requesting resignations from his appointees. The tapes also contain discussions between President Nixon and Henry Kissinger regarding negotiations with the governments of North and South Vietnam.

This is the first partial release of the fifth chronological segment (November 1972 to July 1973) of Nixon White House tapes. The National Archives intends to release the remaining tapes from November 1972 in 2008.

The Nixon Foundation, as part of the transfer agreement, is donating to the National Archives approximately 800 hours from the Nixon White House tapes previously removed from the tapes according to PRMPA and its implementing public access regulations. All future releases will include the donated political conversations.

Background material on the Nixon Library and on the records of the Nixon administration is available in an online press kit.

Selected documents and conversations from all of the newly released tapes will be available on the web at www.nixonlibrary.gov

  • All of the newly released tapes and newly released documents are available for research in the research room at the Nixon Library at 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA.
  • The tapes are also available at the National Archives at College Park at 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD.

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For press information, contact the National Archives public affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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