FG 259 (National Center for Voluntary Action) (White House Central Files: Subject Files)

Scope and Content Note

Subject file category FG 259 contains material relating to the National Center for Voluntary Action, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created in 1969 to work as a liaison between the Federal Government and private volunteer groups. The NCVA promoted voluntarism through the establishment of a clearinghouse containing information on volunteer programs; through awards programs; and through support of individual programs sponsored by outside groups. One of the best known of these programs encouraging support for voluntarism is the National Football League's advertising campaign, which was initiated during the Nixon administration.

The NCVA was developed as a complement to the ACTION Federal agency, whose records are found in Subject File FG 325. The two agencies worked together to foster volunteer programs, with the privately funded NCVA also receiving grants from ACTION to support the development of voluntary grant centers throughout the country. The genesis of NCVA and ACTION can be found in some of the work of the Cabinet Committee on Voluntary Action (FG 252).

As is often the case with smaller FG subject categories, the FG 259 files reveal little about the detailed work and deliberations of the NCVA. The focus is on administrative and personnel issues, with occasional briefing reports to the President, broadly summarizing the status of NCVA programs. The FG 259 files reflect some of the initial debate about the structure and focus of NCVA, as well as efforts to replace key administrative personnel. Researchers will find more specific information about NCVA deliberations within the files of White House staff members, such as Bradley H. Patterson (Leonard Garment's office).

Principal correspondents in FG 259 include the President and those White House staff members whose areas of responsibility included liaison and oversight of voluntary action abilities: Robert Finch, Leonard Garment, Raymond Hanzlik, Charles B. "Bud" Wilkinson. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development George Romney served as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Voluntary Action. Because much of the material deals with personnel screening, scheduling, and other administrative issues, the files also show input from Alexander P. Butterfield, Dwight L. Chapin, John D. Ehrlichman, Daniel P. Moynihan, and David Parker. Since the NCVA worked through an administrative board structure of private citizens, the files reflect correspondence with or about many individuals outside the Government: Edwin Etherington, Max Fisher, Henry Ford II, Douglas Kinsey, Alvin "Pete" Rozelle, and W. Clement Stone.

The terms Executive and General precede each of the FG 259 file designations. These terms were used by the White House Central Files unit to indicate separation of documents according to source and handling. Executive items include communications among national, foreign, and state and local governments and their agencies, members of Congress, and selected prominent correspondents. General designations communications between Government officials and private citizens, institutions, and private interest groups, as well as some Congressional correspondence handled over staff rather than Presidential signature. Where "/A" follows a numeric file designation, it indicates files relating to appointments, nominations, and resignations within the designated agency or office.

FG 259 files primarily contain letters and memoranda, either carbons, electrostatic copies, or originals in draft and final form. As noted, there are also some briefing status reports, as well as press releases. When a document included several subjects, or could be placed in several affiliated file categories, the White House Central Files unit placed cross reference notations on the item and cross-filed copies. Where FG 259 was not the primary filing location, only the first page of multi-page items was usually filed in cross-reference. In such cases, the first file designation listed shows the location of the complete item.

Some of the files related or cross-referenced to FG 259 include:

White House Central Files: Subject Files

FG 252 Cabinet Committee on Voluntary Action


HU Human Rights

White House Special Files: Central Files: Confidential Files

CF FG 252
CF FG 259
Charles W. Colson
John D. Ehrlichman

White House Special Files: Staff Member and Office Files

Bradley H. Patterson

FG 259

Since the NCVA files comprise a small, one-box collection, most of the materials can be found in this single category which is divided by the standard White House Central Files file breaks from 1969 through 1974. (There are no 1974 items in the Executive files, and only a single 1974 acknowledgment letter in the General files). The 1969 material reflects the debate over the direction of Nixon administration efforts to foster voluntary action programs, including Amitai Etzioni's Washington Monthly article, "Willing Hands for What?", as well as assessments of the status of the new, developing CEnter. Later files continue to reflect debate over the role of the NCVA, as well as efforts to find the right personnel and structure for it. As noted earlier, the initiation of the National Football League's voluntary action advertising campaign, and the development of the NCVA clearinghouse, are cited as notable agency accomplishments.

FG 259/A

This small subcategory covers material relating to appointments, nominations, and resignations. These are the final, formal appointment and resignation documents; background information on personnel searches can be found in the FG 259 primary category.

Folder Title List

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