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David R. Gergen

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The Presidential historical materials of David Gergen, a Staff Assistant to the President, are in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration under the provisions of Title I of the Presidential Recording and Materials Preservation Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-526, 88 Stat. 1695) and implementing regulations. In accordance with the act and regulations, personal and private materials (including materials that are outside the date span covered by the act) and nonhistorical materials have been returned.

Materials covered by the act have been archivally processed and are described in this register. Material which are security classified or otherwise restricted under the act and regulations have been removed from the file and placed in a closed file. A Document Withdrawal Record, GSA Form 7279, with a description of each restricted document has been inserted at the beginning of each folder from which materials has 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 A Document Control Record marks the original position of the withdrawn item.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 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:   10 linear inches
  • Approximate number of pages:   1,600

Biographical Note

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 Note

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 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.

 [See Also:  Gergen's White House Central Files]

Series Description

Boxes:   1-2
Series:   Status Reports | Folder Title List
Spans:   1969 - 1972
Description:   Copies and originals of memoranda, reports, notes, and a press release. Arranged in two subseries:

  • Subseries:   Presidential Action Requests
    Spans:   July 1969 - September 1972
    Description:   Copies and original of memoranda received by White House Staff. Folders arranged in chronological order by document type, materials in folders arranged in reverse chronological order.
  • Subseries:   Arthur Burns' Directives
    Spans:   January - July 1969
    Description:   Originals and copies of memoranda and notes; copies of reports sent and received by the President and Arthur Burns. Also a copy of a press release. Material in the single folder is arranged in reverse chronological order.

Boxes:   2
Series:   Selected Material From White House Central Files | Folder Title List
Spans:   1971 - 1972
Description:   Copies of memoranda, reports, drafts, notes, and routing slips sent and received by White House Staff. Folders arranged in reverse numerical order. Materials in folders arranged in reverse chronological order.

Preservation Note

Holdings maintenance was performed on the collection December 2012 in order to ensure the longevity of the documents. The previous number of folders and/or boxes in this collection has changed due to the maintenance process.This finding aid has been updated to reflect any changes. The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.

Folder Title List

STATUS REPORTS, 1969-72

Box 1

Reports to President on Action Items Not Carried Out--(All that were sent) [Mar.-June 1970]
Presidential reports - P-Action Nos. - 1969-June 8, 1970 [July 1969-May 1970] [1 of 5]
Presidential reports - P-Action Nos. - 1969-June 8, 1970 [July 1969-May 1970] [2 of 5]
Presidential reports - P-Action Nos. - 1969-June 8, 1970 [July 1969-May 1970] [3 of 5]
Presidential reports - P-Action Nos. - 1969-June 8, 1970 [July 1969-May 1970] [4 of 5]
Presidential reports - P-Action Nos. - 1969-June 8, 1970 [July 1969-May 1970] [5 of 5]
Presidential Action Requests - Dec. 3, 1969-June 8, 1970 [I] [1 of 2]
Presidential Action Requests - Dec. 3, 1969-June 8, 1970 [I] [2 of 2]
Presidential Action Requests - Dec. 3, 1969-June 8, 1970 [II] [1 of 3]
Presidential Action Requests - Dec. 3, 1969-June 8, 1970 [II] [2 of 3]
Presidential Action Requests - Dec. 3, 1969-June 8, 1970 [II] [3 of 3]
Weekly Status Reports Action Memos - 1971 [Jan.-Dec. 1971] [1 of 3]
Weekly Status Reports Action Memos - 1971 [Jan.-Dec. 1971] [2 of 3]
Weekly Status Reports Action Memos - 1971 [Jan.-Dec. 1971] [3 of 3]
Weekly Status Reports Presidential Action Request (Jan.- September 1972) [1 of 2]
Weekly Status Reports Presidential Action Request (Jan.- September 1972) [2 of 2]
Report to President on Action Items Completed (Nov. 1969-October 1970) [I] [1 of 3]
Report to President on Action Items Completed (Nov. 1969-October 1970) [I] [2 of 3]
Report to President on Action Items Completed (Nov. 1969-October 1970) [I] [3 of 3]

Box 2

Report to President on Action Items Completed (Nov. 1969-October 1970) [II] [1 of 4]
Report to President on Action Items Completed (Nov. 1969-October 1970) [II] [2 of 4]
Report to President on Action Items Completed (Nov. 1969-October 1970) [II] [3 of 4]
Report to President on Action Items Completed (Nov. 1969-October 1970) [II] [4 of 4]

ARTHUR BURNS' DIRECTIVES, 1969

Burns' Directives - Records and Lists [Jan.-July 1969] [1 of 2]
Burns' Directives - Records and Lists [Jan.-July 1969] [2 of 2]

SELECTED MATERIAL FROM WHITE HOUSE CENTRAL FILES, 1971-72

[Handwritten note from Gertrude B. Fry]
Colson Meeting File From Box #1310 [Sept.-Oct. 1972] Other Materials Selected (from Box 1310) [Feb.-Nov. 1972] [1 of 3]
Colson Meeting File From Box #1310 [Sept.-Oct. 1972] Other Materials Selected (from Box 1310) [Feb.-Nov. 1972] [2 of 3]
Colson Meeting File From Box #1310 [Sept.-Oct. 1972] Other Materials Selected (from Box 1310) [Feb.-Nov. 1972] [3 of 3]
Other Materials Selected (from Box 1309) [Apr. 1971-Dec. 1972] [I] [1 of 4]
Other Materials Selected (from Box 1309) [Apr. 1971-Dec. 1972] [I] [2 of 4]
Other Materials Selected (from Box 1309) [Apr. 1971-Dec. 1972] [I] [3 of 4]
Other Materials Selected (from Box 1309) [Apr. 1971-Dec. 1972] [I] [4 of 4]
Other Materials Selected (from Box 1309) [Apr. 1971-Dec. 1972] [II] [1 of 2]
Other Materials Selected (from Box 1309) [Apr. 1971-Dec. 1972] [II] [2 of 2]
Other Material Selected (from Box 1309) [Jan.-Aug. 1972]

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