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Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace
The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace is the presidential library of Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States, located at 18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard in Yorba Linda, California. The nine acre (36,000 m²) campus is situated on and surrounding the grounds of the house where Nixon was born and spent his childhood, today in a suburban area of Orange County, California near California State Highway 57 and California State Highway 90 (Imperial Highway).
The Nixon Library is not part of the Presidential Libraries System of the National Archives and Records Administration, but owned and operated by a private foundation. Approximately 46 million pages of official White House records from the Nixon Administration are stored at the NARA center in College Park, Maryland in accordance with the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974 (PRMPA). The Nixon Presidential Materials Staff (nicknamed the "Nixon Project") have no affiliation with the Nixon Library, but has lent materials to the Library in the past. (see Nixon record controversies)
The Nixon Library Museum, housed in a 52,000 square foot (4,800 m²) building which opened on July 19, 1990, offers a narrative of Nixon's life and career. Behind the museum is the Birthplace, the house constructed by Nixon's father, restored as it was 1910. The graves of Nixon and his wife, Pat Nixon are located on the grounds of the Birthplace.
The primary holdings of the Nixon library are papers and effects from Nixon's personal and political lives.
- private pre-Presidential papers, which contain campaign files, 1946-1968
- files from Nixon's early political career, including his time in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, 1947-1952
- special files from his term as Vice President under President Dwight Eisenhower
- foreign correspondence, 1947-1968
- special correspondence files with, e.g., John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and J. Edgar Hoover
- correspondence, work, trip, and appearance files for 1963-1968
- two major runs of research subject files: 1960 and 1968
- post-Presidential papers, August 1974-April 1994
- Acker, Marje and Phil : Materials relating to the Republican Party, Mrs. Acker’s position as a member of Richard Nixon’s staff, and the Ackers work on Nixon’s campaign.
- Baures, Ruth Porter : Collection of Anti-Communist publications including government hearings and investigations relating to Communist activities. Also includes a complete run of the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings.
- Daily, Peter H. : Materials relating to the November Group of the 1972 Presidential Campaign.
- Day, Roy O. Files of Richard Nixon’s 1946 Primary Campaign manager and long-time political supporter.
- Dorn, Evlyn : Papers of Richard Nixon’s first legal secretary, who assisted Mrs. Frank Nixon with correspondence.
- Doss, Martha M.: Materials relating to social functions during the Presidency of Richard Nixon.
- Drown, Helene and Jack : Collection of (1942-1994) chronicling the close friendship of the Drowns and the Nixons.
- Ferman, Irving : Materials relating to Mr. Ferman’s service with President Eisenhower’s Committee on Government Contracts.
- Finch, Robert H. : The papers of Robert Finch, 1940s – 1990s.
- Flemming, Harry S. : Files relating to Flemming's work with Richard Nixon's transition team and administration.
- Friedersdorf, Max l. : Papers relating to Mr. Friedersdorf services as a special assistant to President Nixon.
- Haldeman, Harry Robbins : Materials relating to Mr. Haldeman’s work with Richard Nixon (1956-1973) and the court cases filed against him as the Assistant to the President.
- Hyk, John M. : Photographs, letter and collectibles solicited from individuals associated with the Watergate investigation.
- Hyland, William G. : Books and papers relating to U.S. Defense and Foreign Policy.
- Laub, C. Herbert : Collection of Presidential autographs and those of other important U.S. political figures.
- McCall, Harrison : Papers of Richard Nixon’s early campaign manager and long-time supporter.
- Morehead, Carlos S. : Collection of books relating to the Watergate impeachment inquiry. Also included are The Papers of the Continental Congress, and volumes from the Foreign Relations of the United States and United States Treaties and Other International Agreements.
- Robinson, Julie Marr : A collection of press files for First Lady Pat Nixon.
- Simon, William E. : Microfiche/microfilm copy of the Simon Papers, housed at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
- Thomas, J. Parnell : Clipping scrapbooks chronicling the work of the House Committee on Un-American Activities up to 1952.
- Walker, Anne and Ron : Materials relating to Ron Walker’s advance work for Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 trip to the Peoples Republic of China. Papers also include posts Mr. Walker held in Nixon’s campaigns and administration.
- Young, Earl J. : Materials relating to Richard Nixon’s visit to Long An, Vietnam (1964) and Da Nang, Vietnam (1967).
Nixon record controversies
Traditionally, materials and records of a U.S. president were considered to be his personal property upon leaving office. The Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon's subsequent resignation from office complicated the issue, however.
On September 8, 1974, Richard Nixon made an agreement with the head of the General Services Administration, Arthur F. Sampson. Nixon would turn over most materials from his presidency, including tape recordings of conversations he had made in the White House; however, the recordings were to be destroyed after September 1, 1979 if directed by Nixon or by September 1, 1984 or his death otherwise.
Alarmed that tapes documenting Nixon's White House years might be lost, Congress abrogated the so-called Nixon-Sampson Agreement by passing S.4016, signed into law by President Gerald Ford on December 19, 1974 as the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act . It applies specifically to materials from the Nixon presidency, directing the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to take ownership of the materials and process them as quickly as possible. Private materials were to be returned to Nixon's estate while those "relevant to the understanding of Abuse of Governmental Power and Watergate" as well as relating to the ordinary constitutional and statutory duties of the President and his White House staff were to be released to the public.
Screening of the tapes was completed by NARA staff as early as 1987, but only 63 hours of White House tapes had been released between 1974 and 1992. In March of that year, presidential historian Stanley I. Kutler , a professor of history and law at the University of Wisconsin, with the advocacy group Public Citizen, filed suit to accelerate release of Nixon materials. Nixon intervened, arguing that NARA's priority should be to return private conversations to him, and in August 1993 obtained a court order directing NARA to stop further release of tapes until all private or personal materials had been returned to him.
Because of the legal situation, the Nixon Library was constructed and operated using private funds instead of being administered by NARA. The dispute continued after Nixon's death in April 1994.
On April 12, 1996 the three parties reached a settlement under which the injunction would be lifted and a schedule for release be adopted. The first materials released under this agreement, 205 hours of Abuse of Governmental Power conversation excerpts, were provided November 18, 1996. The second release on October 16, 1997 consisted of 154 hours of complete conversation recorded in the Cabinet Room from February 1971 through July 1973. The first chronological release was on October 5, 1999, it consisted of 443 hours of complete conversations, February through July 1971. The second chronological release was on October 26, 2000, it consisted of 420 hours of complete conversations, August through December 1971. Included are conversations recorded in the Oval Office, in the President's Old Executive Office Building office, and on his telephones.
The Nixon estate continues to argue, with the agreement of Kutler/Public Citizen, that NARA is not entitled to retain copies or originals of personal or private materials pursuant to the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which excludes such items from the official records which become the property of the United States after a president leaves office.
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