Q: Who is Alexander Butterfield?
Alexander Porter Butterfield served as H. R. Haldeman's deputy on the President's personal staff as Deputy Assistant to the President, from 1969 through early 1973. He was chief administrative officer, responsible for final review of all memoranda, briefing papers, and correspondence going to the President, as well as the conduct of the President's daily non-public activities. Butterfield also oversaw the installation and operation of the White House taping system.
On July 13, 1973, under direct questioning, Butterfield confirmed the existence of a voice-activated recording system in the Oval Office to Senate investigators and testified before the Senate investigation committee three days later.
Butterfield left the White House in December, 1972 to serve as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and resigned this post on March 31, 1975, to work in the private sector. Butterfield was the subject of Bob Woodward's 2015 book, The Last of the President's Men. He lives in La Jolla, California.
Q: What are the Alexander Butterfield materials, and what is "new"?
Butterfield maintained approximately 13,000 pages of official White House materials outside the White House Central Files unit. These files document the entire scope of Alexander Butterfield's responsibilities, except for the White House taping system.
While some of the papers duplicate materials in the Library's existing 12,000 pages of Butterfield materials (in his White House Special Files and White House Central Files) the newly acquired materials are more complete and include many original documents, such as those with the original handwriting of President Nixon, Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, and Butterfield himself, some of which were not in the Library's collections.
Documents with handwritten notes by President Nixon include a congratulatory telegram sent in 1972 by Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern to President Nixon. The telegram contains the President's handwritten response for his staff to type up. The collection also includes an original handwritten thank you letter from future Ohio Governor John Kasich to President Nixon, a copy of which did not exist in the Library's existing collections.
Q: How did the National Archives acquire the materials?
In the fall of 2015, National Archives staff learned of the collection from press coverage in advance of the publication of Bob Woodward's The Last of the President's Men. A September 10, 2015, Washington Post article described "thousands of documents" which had not been turned over to the National Archives. The National Archives has continuing authority under the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974 (PRMPA) to preserve and make available Nixon Presidential historical materials.
National Archives officials worked with Woodward and Butterfield and their respective attorneys to take possession of the materials and review them under that law.
In February 2016, two archivists from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum traveled to Butterfield's attorney's office in San Diego. They performed a cursory review of materials to determine what was likely covered by PRMPA, leaving behind a small amount of folders which were personal or outside the time period of Nixon's Presidency. The materials were processed as an accretion to Butterfield's existing White House Central Files collection. A small number of personal documents were identified during processing and returned to Butterfield or the Richard Nixon Foundation.
Q: What topics does the release cover?
The collection covers the entire range of Butterfield's duties, including coordinating the President’s schedule, the organization and reorganization of the White House Office, personnel, the Secret Service, and the budget. Subjects covered include Vietnam, Cambodia, Safeguard, My Lai, China, Nixon administration accomplishments, and even the type of wine served at White House functions. There are no materials related to the White House taping system.
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