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John C. Whitaker

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The Presidential historical materials of John C. Whitaker 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 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note) and implementing regulations. In accordance with the act and regulations, archivists reviewed the file group to identify personal and private materials (including materials outside the date span covered by the act) as well as nonhistorical items. These materials have been returned to the individual who has primary proprietary interest.

Materials covered by the Act have been archivally processed and are described in this register. Items which are security classified or otherwise restricted under the act and regulations have been removed and placed in a closed file. A Document Withdrawal Record (GSA Form 7279 or NA Form 14021) with a description of each restricted document has been inserted at the beginning of each folder from which materials have been removed. A Document Control Record marks the original position of the withdrawn item. Employees of the National Archives will review periodically the unclassified portions of closed materials for the purpose of opening those which no longer require restriction. Certain classified documents may be declassified under authority of Executive Order 13526 in response to a Mandatory Review Request (NA Form 14020) submitted by the researcher.

  • Linear feet of materials:   63.6
  • Approximate number of pages:   127,000

Biographical Note


December 29, 1926 John C. Whitaker born, Victoria, Canada

1949 Graduated from Georgetown University

1953 Ph.D. in Geology, Johns Hopkins University

1959-1966 Vice President, International Aero Service Co., a division of Litton Industries

1960 Advance man in Nixon's presidential campaign

1960-1968 Associated with Nixon in various ways

1966-1968 Owner of a consulting firm, Washington, D.C.

December 17, 1968 Appointment announced as Secretary to the Cabinet

November 4, 1969 Appointed Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, as part of the White House reorganization which created the Domestic Council

February 2, 1973-1975 Under Secretary of the Interior

1975- Research author, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C.


February 10, 1941 Richard M. Fairbanks, III born, Indianapolis, Indiana

1962 Graduated from Yale University

1969 J.D., Columbia University Law School

1969-January 1971 Employed with Arnold and Porter, Washington, D.C.

January-July 1971 Special Assistant to the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

July 1971 Appointed to the Domestic Council staff as assistant to John C. Whitaker

May 24, 1973 Appointed Associate Director of the Domestic Council

May 1974 Left Government service

1974-1981 Partner in law firm of Beveridge, Fairbanks and Diamond, Washington, D.C.

1981- Served Reagan administration as member of transition team, State Department official, and special Mid-East negotiator


January 21, 1936 L. Edwin Coate born, Willamette Valley, Oregon

1964-1970 Employed as General Manager and Chief Engineer, Valley Center Municipal Water District, California

May 11, 1970 Appointed to serve as White House Fellow for 1970-1971

July 30, 1971 Left Government service

Scope and Content Note

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.

Series Description

Boxes:   1-4
Series:   Chronological File | Folder Title List
Spans:   1969-1971
Description:   Composed predominantly of carbon copies of internal White House memoranda, and including correspondence with member 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 FBI checks of prospective job candidates, and coordinating Department activities. Files from the Domestic Council period (November 1969 through 1971) document the making and selling of administration environmental and natural resource policies. Beginning in September 1970, the series also documents United States policy toward Puerto Rico. Arranged chronologically.

Boxes:   5
Series:   Secretary to the Cabinet File | Folder Title List
Spans:   1969-1970
Description:   Correspondence, memoranda, press releases, agendas, and lists of attendees covering a few meetings for which Whitaker had responsibility while he was Secretary to the Cabinet. The coverage of this small file is very limited. Arranged chronologically.

Boxes:   6-16
Series:   Presidential Events File | Folder Title List
Spans:   1969-(1972) 1973
Description:   Correspondence, memoranda, speech and statement drafts, reports, press releases, maps, photographs and printed material concerning real and proposed 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 have to do with administration environmental and natural resource policy, or, in one instance, with United States policy toward Puerto Rico. Arranged approximately by topic--Presidential events, proposed Presidential events, Presidential speeches and reports and press conferences, and proposed First Family events--and thereunder chronologically.

Boxes:   17-119
Series:   Subject File | Folder Title List
Spans:   1967 (1969)-1973
Description:   Correspondence, memoranda, handwritten notes, press releases, speeches, reports, cables, maps, resumes, photographs, newspaper clippings and printed material concerning Whitaker's office's work in forming and coordinating administration environmental and natural resource policy, and United States policy toward Puerto Rico and American trust territories in the Caribbean. Arranged alphabetically.

STAFF FILES, 1968 (1969)-1973

Boxes:   120-151
Series:   Richard M. Fairbanks Subject File | Folder Title List
Spans:   1970-1973
Description:   Correspondence, memoranda, reports, notes, resumes, legal briefs, press releases, newspaper clippings and printed material documenting Fairbanks' work within John C. Whitaker's office. Arranged alphabetically.

Boxes:   152
Series:   Richard M. Fairbanks Personal File | Folder Title List
Spans:   1968 (1969)-(1971) 1972
Description:   Composed of materials accumulated by Fairbanks during his career prior to coming to the White House. They concern his strictly personal life, his legal career with the firm of Arnold and Porter, and his work as Special Assistant to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. These materials have been determined to be Fairbanks' personal files and have been returned to him.

Boxes:   153-156
Series:   L. Edwin Coate Subject File | Folder Title List
Spans:   1970 (1971)-(1971) 1972
Description:   Correspondence, memoranda, briefing materials, notes, charts, lists of names, press releases, photographs, newspaper clippings and printed material documenting Coate's work within John C. Whitaker's office. Arranged alphabetically.

Boxes:   157-159
Series:   Printed Material | Folder Title List
Spans:   1971-1972
Description:   Composed mainly of several Environmental Protection Agency reports on noise, published on December 31, 1971.

Folder Title List

Available as a searchable Adobe Acrobat PDFpdf file.



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