Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
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Public Access History

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Materials' History

Federal Regulations

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Release Chronology

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Following the resignation of President Nixon, several lawsuits shaped the review and access procedures developed for the Nixon Presidential Materials. In order to better understand the development of these procedures it is helpful to look at the chronology of the court decisions from his resignation to the present.

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1974   |   1975-77   |   1976   |   1977   |   1978   |   1979   |   1980   |   1982   |   1983   |   1985   |   1986   |   1987   |   1988   |   1992   |   1993   |   1994   |   1995   |   1996   |   1998   |   2000   |   2001   |   2004   |   2005   |   2006   |   2007   |  


  • August 9
    President Nixon resigns.
  • September 6
    Nixon-Sampson Agreement signed giving Nixon control over his Presidential materials, including White House Tapes.


  • National Archives submits four sets of regulations to Congress regarding the review, processing, and release of Nixon materials.


  • January 7
    Nixon v. Administrator, 408 F. Supp. 321 (D.D.C. 1976). The U.S. District Court rules that Nixon's constitutional rights are not violated by processing of materials by government archivists.


  • June 28
    Nixon v. Administrator, 433 U.S. 425 (1977) Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act.
  • December 16
    Nixon Public Access Regulations (4th proposed set) become effective.


  • January 31
    Nixon files Nixon v. Solomon challenging the constitutionality of the public access regulations, including the one-house veto provision.


  • February 14
    The settlement of Nixon v. Solomon, sometimes referred to as the "Negotiated Agreement" allows the National Archives to begin processing the Nixon Presidential Materials.
  • July 24
    U.S. District Court upholds General Services Administration's (GSA) position on access to tapes and processing of dictabelts in Nixon v. Solomon.


  • January 11
    Fifth set of regulations accepted by Congress, including definition of "private and personal."


  • February 9
    Nixon v. Freeman, 670 F. 2d 346 (D.C. Cir. 1982). Court of Appeals affirms U.S. District Court ruling that procedures set forth in the fifth set of regulations did not infringe on Nixon's rights.


  • October 20
    Twenty-nine former Nixon aides and Cabinet officials file suit in U.S. District Court (Allen v. Carmen) challenging constitutionality of the fifth set of regulations, specifically the one-house veto provision.
  • December 30
    U.S. District Court rules in Allen v. Carmen that the fifth set of regulations are unconstitutional on the grounds that Congress exercised the one-house veto provision of PRMPA. 578 F. Supp. 951 (D.D.C. 1983).


  • March 29
    The sixth set of proposed regulations published in Federal Register.
  • December 18
    Public Citizen sues NARA to force promulgation of the sixth set of regulations.


  • February 28
    The final version of the Nixon Public Access Regulations are published in the Federal Register.


  • The Nixon White House Special Files are released to the public. President Nixon prevents the release of 150,000 pages of documents, claiming they were purely "personal-private" and "personal-political." In accordance with the public access regulations in 36 CFR 1275.44, the Presidential Materials Review Board is formed to adjudicate Nixon's claims of these Contested Files.


  • April 12
    In Public Citizen v. Burke, 843 F 2d 1473 (D.C. Cir. 1988), the Court of Appeals upholds the sixth set of regulations.


  • March
    Professor Stanley Kutler and Public Citizen file suit against the National Archives (Kutler v. Wilson) to force NARA to release Watergate-related conversations and corresponding tapes subject logs from the Nixon tapes.
  • June
    President Nixon intervenes in Kutler v. Wilson.


  • July
    President Nixon seeks an injunction to block the public release of additional Nixon White House Tapes pending (1) segregation and return of all "private or personal" conversations, and (2) processing of all 4,000 hours of tapes for release as a "single integral file segment."
  • August
    President Nixon is granted a preliminary injunction blocking further public releases of tapes. The U.S. District Court orders NARA to excise the purely "personal-private" and "personal-political" segments from the original Nixon tapes and all copies. In response, NARA appeals the court order to the U.S. Court of Appeals.


  • March
    NARA begins editing purely "personal-private" and "personal-political" segments from the digital copies of the Nixon tapes to comply with the August 1993 court order.

    NARA publishes a notice in the Federal Register proposing revisions to the public access regulations governing the Nixon tapes and materials.
  • April
    Following President Nixon's death, NARA returns purely "personal-private" and "personal-political" conversation segments to representatives of President Nixon's estate. These segments were edited from the enhanced master copy of the Nixon tapes.
  • May
    William E. Griffin and John H. Taylor intervene on behalf of the Nixon estate to substitute for Nixon after his his death.


  • Professor Stanley Kutler, Public Citizen, NARA, and the Nixon estate agree to mediation in Kutler v. Carlin (formerly Kutler v. Wilson).


  • October
    The Presidential Materials Review Board completed its review of the Contested Files originally scheduled to be released in 1987. As a result, approximately 28,000 documents were released to the public.


  • December
    Griffin and Taylor v. United States began in U.S. District Court. This case, often referred to as the "Compensation Suit," was originally brought by Nixon in 1975 seeking compensation for the seizure of his Presidential materials.


  • June
    The U.S. agrees to pay the Nixon Estate $18 million in an out-of-court settlement of Griffin and Taylor v. United States (Compensation Suit).


  • January
    The Nixon estate and NARA agree to amend the public access regulations, allowing for the duplication of all publicly available White House Tapes.


  • January

    Congress passes legislation that provides for the establishment of a federally-operated Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. Specifically, the legislation amends the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974, which mandated that Nixon's Presidential Materials were to remain in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Under this new legislation, the materials may now be moved to a federally-operated facility outside of the Washington, D.C., area.

    Negotations between the Nixon Foundation and NARA begin the process which will lead to the Nixon Library joining the Presidential Libraries system administered by NARA.



  • October

    On October 16, 2006, Archivist Allen Weinstein announces the designation of presidential historian Timothy Naftali as the first director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Read more in the Press Release. Dr. Naftali assumes his duties on October 16, 2006.


  • July

    On July 11, the privately-owned Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace transitions to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, becoming the 12th federally operated Presidential Library with Timothy Naftali as the first director of the federal Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.


  • January

    On January 12, Michael Ellzey is appointed director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

Materials' History


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