Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Special Staff Files, White House Special Files, 1969-1974
Collection Number: 6004162
President (1969-1974 : Nixon). Special Files Unit. (09/1972 - 08/09/1974)
Extent: 2 linear feet, 7 linear inches; 6 boxes
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Abstract: These files were collected from various staff members who do not have a larger file group in the Special Files. This file
group consists of selected materials from 19 staff members and concerns diverse topics and includes 2 boxes of George Bush
material relating to his appointment as ambassador to the United Nations.
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.
Special Staff Files, White House Special Files, 1969-1974. 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.
The Special Files Unit was created in September 1972 to provide a central storage location for sensitive material. Early in
1970, John R. Brown III, Special Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary, conducted a review of the handling procedures
for all Presidential papers. His report was contained in a memorandum to H.R. Haldeman, dated March 25, 1970. In it, Brown
recommended the immediate establishment of a special files unit to handle the storage of all sensitive material, material
of a personal nature, and material containing the President's handwriting. The consolidation of these files into a central
location would, according to his recommendation, tighten up the procedures for handling Presidential papers. Two years later
the Nixon administration acted on the recommendations by establishing a special files unit within the White House complex
that was completely independent of the White House Central Files unit.
To ensure the utmost security, the number of individuals who worked in the Special Files Unit was intentionally kept at a
minimum. Gertrude Brown Fry, Staff Assistant for Security, was appointed to supervise the new White House unit. Her Assistant
was Hazel F. Fulton, who had been a confidential assistant to Peter M. Flanigan, Assistant to the President.
Prior to the establishment of Special Files, much of the sensitive materials generated by the White House staff was not forwarded
to the White House Central Files for general storage, but it was dispersed throughout the White House complex and held by
individual staff members in their own offices. Following the decision to set up Special Files, John W. Dean III, Counsel to
the President, instructed Fry and Fulton to receive, index, and file all sensitive White House staff materials. They were
also provided criteria to use in making determinations about items to include in Special Files. Under the criteria there were
twelve groups of files that warranted special care and handling: investigative reports on individuals; applications and recommendations
for positions; documents that contained derogatory remarks concerning the character, loyalty, integrity, or ability of individuals;
documents relating to personal, family, or financial affairs of individuals; documents that contained information which could
be used to harass living persons or relatives of recently deceased persons; information prejudicial to the national security;
information prejudicial to foreign relations; communications addressed to the President in confidence, the immediate publication
of which would result in discouraging confidential communications to the President in the future; documents that pertained
to the President's personal, family, business, and financial affairs; security classified information; documents specifically
restricted by the President; and politically sensitive information or documents. With these instructions Fry proceeded to
set up, organize, and manage the Special Files.
The first materials received by the new White House unit were the President's handwriting files and the files of the Staff
Secretary. Fry and Fulton also began to review the Confidential Files in the White House Central Files, including the subject
files and retired files of White House staff members, to determine which documents should be removed and placed in the Special
Files. Furthermore, it was decided to continue the same arrangement scheme used by the White House Central Files unit rather
than to devise a new filing system for Special Files materials. A cross-reference card was prepared for use by the White House
Central Files unit to indicate the new location of withdrawn items in Special Files. This practice, however, was not always
done as time passed.
It was the intention of the Special Files Unit that each senior White House staff member would send sensitive materials to
Special Files for storage and exclusive retrieval by the staff member. In practice, however, Special Files did not receive
sensitive materials from many top staff members. When staff members did resign their appointment or left the White House staff,
the Special Files Unit received all their files and reviewed them for items that met the specified criteria for sensitivity
and inclusion in Special Files. All nonsensitive materials were subsequently forwarded to the White House Central Files for
general storage. If the Special Files Unit did not receive a large quantity of sensitive materials from a particular staff
member, but only a few folders, these folders were placed in the file group known as Special Staff Files.
Although Special Files was a development of the Nixon administration, it did not immediately end with the resignation of President
Nixon on August 9, 1974. The Special Files Unit continued to operate for an additional eleven months by serving the needs
of the Ford White House staff. On June 23, 1975, the Ford administration abolished Special Files, and all sensitive materials
in its custody were transferred to the Confidential Files of the White House Central Files.
Scope and Content of Collection
During the course of its normal operations, the Special Files Unit selected and eventually received quantities of folders
from some White House staff members that required special care and handling. The Special Files Unit created the file group,
Special Staff Files, to accommodate those folders for which there were no other materials in the Special Files already attributed
to a particular staff member. This file group consists of materials from 18 staff members. Primarily these files came from
the White House Central Files Confidential Files and are cross-referenced in those files. When the Special Files were examined
prior to archival review, the archivist determined that several folders attributed to a particular staff member should be
transferred to existing large file groups in Special Files rather than be retained in the Special Staff Files. A record of
the transfer appears in the folder title listing. The remaining folders, consisting of a single name series, were arranged
alphabetically by surname of the White House Staff member.
The materials are arranged into one series:
Material in the folders have little relationship to each other in general and represent a broad range of subjects. On the
subject of foreign affairs and national defense policy, there are files of telegrams supporting the U.S. position in Vietnam,
a study of classified documents relating to the crisis in the Dominican Republic, and material concerning the Pentagon Papers
controversy. Several folders contain information about the activities of agencies, such as the Post Office and the General
Services Administration. Two staff members were involved in explaining governmental support for Presidential properties, and
the content of their folders reflect this activity. All of the files from Frank Herringer pertain to efforts by the Nixon
Administration to stop or to contain improper disclosures of information or "leaks" from agencies or the White House staff
to the press. There are also a few folders concerning the Watergate case as well as other political campaign activities, including
scheduling and advance work. Some folders contain information on Presidential meetings with Congressman, the Domestic Council,
Jewish leaders, and civic groups. The issues of desegregation and busing legislation appear in few folders.
In April 1973 Tom Lias received two boxes of correspondence from George Bush, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, covering
the period March 1971-December 1972. They were was turned over to the Special Files unit, classified IT64 International Organizations-United
Nations, and placed in the Special Staff Files-Sensitive Files. These correspondence files consist primarily of original incoming
letters, petitions, and resolutions from the general public; school classes; civic, cultural, religious, and ethnic organizations;
city and state Councils and legislatures; and a few U.S. senators addressed to George Bush, Sr. These letters are attached
to copies of his outgoing letters. The materials also include an entire box of USUN Classified Summary Cables, dating from
March 1971 to January 1973. In addition, there are many newspaper clippings and magazine articles.
A great variety of topics are covered in these materials with expressions of either support or condemnation of positions taken
by George Bush as U.N. respresentative. Several letters show confusion about the power of the U.N. over U.S. policy, particularly
in regard to Vietnam. There are numerous letters voicing concern over U.S. financial and economic support of Communist regimes
through U.N. organizations such as UNICEF. An increasing number of letters show concern over the growth of acts of terrorism
such as the killing of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, the attack at the Lod airport, and the fighting in Northern
Ireland. Numerous letters pertain to the plight of Soviet Jews. International conflicts such as the Bangladesh-Pakistan war
and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon caused citizens and organizations to write to Representative Bush to express their concern
or to demand action. Several letters comment on the treatment of blacks and the government of South Africa, the treatment
of individuals of other ethnic origins by Gen. Idi Amin of Uganda, and the treatment of Puerto Rico by the U.S. A sizeable
portion of correspondence deal with the seating of the People's Republic of China and the removal of Nationalist China from
The Staff Member and Office Files of the White House Central Files contain additional materials for the following individual: