Scope and Content of Collection
Title: John C. Whitaker Papers, White House Central Files, 1969-1973
Collection Number: 6004122
Whitaker, John C., 1926-
Extent: 69 linear feet, 7 linear inches; 159 boxes
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Abstract: The John C. Whitaker file group documents primarily the Nixon administration’s environmental and natural resource policies,
from mid-1969 through early 1973. The three men whose office files comprise the file group – John C. Whitaker, Richard M.
Fairbanks III, and L. Edwin Coate – were all members of the Domestic Council staff, with responsibility for environmental
and natural resource policies.
Language of Material: English
Collection is open for research. Some materials may be unavailable based upon categories of materials exempt from public release
established in the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974.
Most government records are in the public domain; however, this series includes commercial materials, such as newspaper clippings,
that may be subject to copyright restrictions. Researchers should contact the copyright holder for information.
John C. Whitaker Papers, White House Central Files, 1969-1973. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
These materials are in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration under the provisions of Title I of
the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-526, 88 Stat. 1695) and implementing regulations.
Scope and Content of Collection
The John C. Whitaker Files series is comprised of the Chronological File, Secretary to the Cabinet File, Presidential Events
Files, Subject File, Richard M. Fairbanks Subject File, L. Edwin Coate Subject File, and Printed Material.
The Chronological File subseries is comprised predominantly of copies of internal White House memoranda, which includes correspondence
with members of Congress, State officials, interest group representatives, and the general public. Files from the Secretary
to the Cabinet period (January to November 1969) cover such topics as filling political positions, requesting Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI) checks of prospective job candidates, and coordinating Department activities. Files from the Domestic
Council period (November 1969 through December 1971) document the making and selling of the administration's environmental
and natural resource policies. Beginning in September 1970, the subseries also documents United States policy toward Puerto
The Secretary to the Cabinet File subseries contains material covering a few meetings for which Whitaker had responsibility
while he was Secretary to the Cabinet. The material in this subseries is very limited.
The Presidential Events Files subseries contains information related to both proposed and actual Presidential meetings, trips
and speeches, and appearance and speech proposals for the First Family and the President's brother, Edward Nixon. All of
the meetings, trips and speeches deal with the administration's environmental and natural resource policy. There is one instance
of a meeting related to United States policy toward Puerto Rico.
The Subject File subseries contains material concerning Whitaker's office's work in forming and coordinating policy on the
environment and natural resources, as well as policy towards Puerto Rico and American trust territories in the Caribbean.
Record types include correspondence, memoranda, handwritten notes, press releases, cables, newspaper clippings, and printed
The Richard M. Fairbanks Subject Files subseries documents Fairbank's work within John C. Whitaker's office.
The L. Edwin Coate Subject File subseries contains material documenting Coate's work within Whitaker's office.
The Printed Material subseries is composed mainly of several reports and publications on noise created by the Environmental
The John C. Whitaker file group documents primarily the Nixon administration's environmental and natural resource policies,
from mid-1969 through early 1973. The three men whose offices files comprise the file group--John C. Whitaker, Richard M.
Fairbanks, III, and L. Edwin Coate--were all members of the Domestic Council staff, with responsibility for environmental
and natural resources policies.
John C. Whitaker, after spending most of his first year in the administration as Secretary to the Cabinet, was appointed Deputy
Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs on November 4, 1969; this appointment was part of the White House reorganization
which created the Domestic Affairs staff, later called the Domestic Council. "My particular area," Whitaker wrote shortly
after commencing his Domestic Council duties, "is natural resources and environment. This means that I become involved in
such things as the Everglades jetport, Alaska pipeline, Federal/State compacts for resources, etc. ...This work leads me to
heavy involvement with the Departments of Agriculture and Interior. But it also includes, for example, the Army Corps of Engineers,
[the] Navy [Department], [the] Commerce [Department], [the] Coast Guard...and a host of other Departments and Agencies." As
the administration's environmental program developed and new entities were created to implement it, Whitaker added such agencies
as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Emergency Preparedness, the Office of Science and Technology, the Council
on Environmental Quality, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to his list. Beginning September 1,
1970, Whitaker added to his Domestic Council duties the responsibility of being the White House contact for United States
policy toward Puerto Rico.
Whitaker left the Domestic Council in February 1973, to take the post of Undersecretary of the Interior. His duties were taken
over by his assistant, Richard M. Fairbanks, III, whom Whitaker had recruited to the Domestic Council staff from the Environmental
Protection Agency in July 1971. On May 24, 1973, Fairbanks was appointed Associate Director of the Domestic Council. He left
the White House staff in May 1974 to return to private legal practice. Fairbanks' office file includes virtually no documentation
of his work after John Whitaker's departure from the White House staff.
L. Edwin Coate was a White House Fellow who worked with Whitaker for about a year, from May 1970 through July 1971. He is
represented by a small office file.
The file group is comprised of approximately fifty so-called "oversize attachments"--groups of materials which were retired
by the Domestic Council staff to the White House Central Files unit, but which were not incorporated in the Central Files'
subject category scheme. They were, this is to say, in dead storage. Since they represented about fifty discrete retirements,
most of whatever original filing order they once possessed was lost. Consequently, an order was imposed upon them during processing.
The oversized attachments were actually retired under one or the other of two names--Whitaker or Fairbanks. These two groups
were determined, however, to be too indistinct to require two file groups and were combined.
A few series defined themselves as being discrete from the mass of unarranged subject files which dominated the file group.
These are the Chronological File, the Secretary to the Cabinet File, the Presidential Events File, and the Printed Material
file. The rest of the file group has been arranged into one large subject file and three staff files--smaller subject files
documenting the work of Whitaker's assistants, Richard M. Fairbanks and L. Edwin Coate. One of these files, the Richard M.
Fairbanks Personal File, is composed of documentation of Fairbanks' private law practice, and of his work in the Government
prior to his coming to the White House; this file has been returned to Fairbanks. The identification of folders as belonging
to one or the other of the subject and staff files was not always an obvious matter, and an element of subjectivity necessarily
crept into the decision-making.
Related materials can be found in the Staff Member and Office Files of the White House Special Files, particularly in the
John D. Ehrlichman file group, and in those of the White House Central Files, particularly in the Kenneth Cole, Earl Butz,
John D. Ehrlichman, Tod R. Hullin, Dorena Ninham-Dam, Glenn Schleede and President's Advisory Council on Executive Organization
file groups; and in the White House Central Files, Subject Files, particularly the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Federal
Government categories. John C. Whitaker's book, Striking a Balance: Environment and Natural Resources Policy in the Nixon-Ford
Years (Washington, D.C., 1976), describes many of the events documented in this file group.