David R. Gergen Papers, White House Special Files, 1969-1972


Descriptive Summary

Title: David R. Gergen Papers, White House Special Files, 1969-1972
Dates: 1969-1972
Collection Number: 6854409
Creator/Collector: Gergen, David R. (David Richmond), 1942-
Extent: 10 linear inches; 2 boxes
Online items available
Repository: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Abstract: David Gergen was a Staff Assistant to the President and reported directly to Ray Price, the Director of the Office of Research and Messages. The Gergen materials in the Special Files consist of Presidential action requests and memoranda to or from Arthur Burns, Counselor of the President.
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.

Publication Rights

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.

Preferred Citation

David R. Gergen Papers, White House Special Files, 1969-1972. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Acquisition Information

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.

Biography/Administrative History

David Richmond Gergen was born on May 9, 1942 in Durham, North Carolina. He graduated from Yale University with a B.A. degree in 1963 and earned a LL.B. degree from Harvard Law School in 1967. That same year, he married Anne Elizabeth Wilson. Between 1967 and 1971, Gergen served in the United States Navy. In 1971, Gergen joined President Richard Nixon’s administration as a Staff Assistant to the President, with duties pertaining to research and speech writing, and later became a Special Assistant in 1973. In his capacity as Special Assistant, Gergen led the speech writing team. After Nixon’s resignation, Gergen was appointed as Special Counsel to President Gerald Ford in 1974 and remained in that position until 1977. After working as an advisor on George H. W. Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential election campaign, he resumed his public service career in 1981 as the White House Staff Director for President Ronald Reagan and, later, as Director of Communications. Gergen left the White House for the private sector in 1984. He worked as an editor of U.S. News & World Report during the period 1985-86. Gergen returned to the White House once more in 1993 when he was recruited by President Bill Clinton to be Counsel to President. He served as an advisor to the President and Secretary of State Warren Christopher on foreign policy matters until 1995, at which time he once again left public service for a career in academia. David Gergen’s television appearances as a political analyst include the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour program and various CNN programs. As a writer, he has contributed to U.S. News & World Report, Parade magazine, the New York Times, Newsweek, and the Washington Post. In 2000, he published Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton. In addition, Gergen has been a member or served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Aspen Institute, Teach for America, the Ford Foundation’s Innovation in Government program, and the Council for Foreign Relations. Between 1995 and 1999, Gergen taught at Duke University. In 1999, he joined the faculty at Harvard University. As of 2012, he is both a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Director of the University’s Center for Public Leadership.

Scope and Content of Collection

The White House Special Files Material of David R. Gergen is dated 1969-72. Gergen joined the White House Staff in 1971. As Staff Assistant to the President until January 1973, Gergen reported directly to Ray Price, Director of the Office of Research and Messages. In addition to administrative duties, Gergen gradually took on editorial responsibilities. The Selected Material from White House Central Files subseries contains memoranda, reports, drafts, and notes of material from Gergen's White House Central Files. The materials contain information related to a variety of topics, including the 1972 Republican platform and the President's posture during the 1972 campaign. The Status Reports series is divided into two subseries. The Presidential Action Requests subseries contains memoranda that deal with a variety of requests from the President to his staff. The bulk of the material consists of reports prepared by the Staff Secretary on status request of these action requests. In addition there are separate lists of action items completed and substantive reports to the President that respond to specific request. The second subseries, Arthur Burns' Directives, contains similar action requests. The majority of the memoranda in this subseries are to or from Dr. Burns in his capacity as Counselor to the President. The remaining series, Selected Materials from White House Central Files, contains items copied from several boxes of material from Gergen's White House Central Files. Although much of this material is not originated by Gergen, it relates to his staff Assistant to the President. Several of these responsibilities are represented in this series by notes taken at meetings attended on behalf of Ray Price, memoranda relating to the organization of ideas and issues for President Nixon's re-election campaign, and memoranda and notes relating to the 1972 Republican platform, and the President's posture during the 1972 campaign. The majority of David R. Gergen's materials in the National Archives' custody are located in the White House Central Files, Staff Member and Office Files. On September 13, 1974, the Office of Presidential Libraries, Nixon Materials Project (NLN) recorded an exit interview with David R. Gergen.

Additional collection guides