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John D. Ehrlichman Papers, White House Special Files, 01/20/1969 - 04/30/1973
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography/Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Additional collection guides

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John D. Ehrlichman Papers, White House Special Files, 01/20/1969 - 04/30/1973
    Dates: 1969-1973
    Collection Number: 954017
    Creator/Collector: Ehrlichman, John, 1925-1999
    Extent: 31 linear feet, 1 linear inch; 71 boxes
    Online items available
    Repository: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
    Abstract: John Ehrlichman's papers pertain to his many activities as Counsel to the President and as Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs. The files include a full set of Ehrlichman's handwritten notes of meetings with the President. Other materials of interest include records of the Domestic Council, as well as files pertaining to Supreme Court nominations, reorganization of the executive branch, welfare reform, drafts of Presidential speeches, Watergate, and other topics.
    Language of Material: English


    Collection is open for research. Some materials may be unavailable based upon categories of materials exempt from public release established in the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974.

    Publication Rights

    Most government records are in the public domain, however, this series includes commercial materials, such as newspaper clippings, that may be subject to copyright restrictions. Researchers should contact the copyright holder for information.

    Preferred Citation

    John D. Ehrlichman Papers, White House Special Files, 01/20/1969 - 04/30/1973. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

    Acquisition Information

    These materials 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 (P.L. 93-526, 88 Stat. 1695) and implementing regulations.

    Biography/Administrative History

    John Daniel Ehrlichman was born on March 20, 1925 in Tacoma, Washington. He received a Distinguished Flying Cross award while serving during the Second World War in the United States Army Air Corps between 1943 and 1945. After leaving the military, Ehrlichman earned a B.A. at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1948 and a J.D. at Stanford University in 1951. He was then admitted to both the California Bar and the Washington State Bar. During the years 1952-1968, John Ehrlichman was a partner in the Seattle law firm of Hullin, Ehrlichman, Roberts and Hodge. It was during this period that he was recruited by former UCLA classmate H. R. Haldeman to work as an Advance Man in Richard Nixon’s 1960 presidential campaign. He later worked as a Scheduler in Nixon’s 1962 California gubernatorial campaign. In June-November 1968, Ehrlichman was Tour Director and Director of Convention Activities for Nixon’s second presidential campaign. After Nixon’s election victory, he became Counsel to the President on January 20, 1969. Ehrlichman held several titles during his time in the Nixon administration. In November 1969, he transitioned from Counsel to Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs and retained that position until May 1973. He also served as a member of the Federal Property Review Board between 1970 and 1973 as well as a member of the President’s Council on International Economic Policy during 1971-1973. John Ehrlichman was instrumental in creating the White House special investigation unit known as “The Plumbers” in the summer of 1971. Members of the unit engaged in criminal activities as part of their efforts to assist the Committee to Reelect the President – most notably, the Watergate burglary. In July 1973, as the investigation into the events surrounding Watergate intensified, President Nixon demanded and received the resignations of both John Ehrlichman and fellow staff member H. R. Haldeman. Ehrlichman testified before the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities that same month. In March 1974, Ehrlichman was indicted for conspiracy and obstruction of justice in connection with the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up. Four months later, on July 12, Ehrlichman, G. Gordon Liddy, Bernard L. Barker, and Eugenio Martinez were all convicted for their roles in connection with the burglary of the office of Dr. Lewis J. Fielding, psychiatrist to Daniel Ellsberg. Ehrlichman was found guilty of three counts of perjury and one of conspiracy. He was sentenced on July 31, 1974 to at least 20 months in prison. Following a second trial, John Ehrlichman was convicted on January 1, 1975 of four felony counts in connection with the Watergate break-in and cover-up, including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury. On February 21, he was given a prison sentence of 2 ½ to 8 years. Also sentenced at that time were Haldeman and former U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell. Ehrlichman entered the Swift Trail Federal Prison Camp in Safford, Arizona on October 28, 1976 and was released on April 27, 1978. After his release, he moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico. Following his time in politics, he worked as a writer, artist and commentator. The Ehrlichman family eventually moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked as Senior Vice President at the engineering firm Law Environmental. As an author, John Ehrlichman is credited with four books. These are The Company (1976), The Whole Truth (1979), Witness to Power: The Nixon Years (1982), and The China Card: A Novel (1987). Beginning in 1995, Ehrlichman collaborated on an unreleased Watergate documentary project titled John Ehrlichman: In the Eye of the Storm. Materials relating to that project are held by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia, Athens. John Ehrlichman died of diabetes-related complications at his home in Atlanta, Georgia on February 14, 1999.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    John D. Ehrlichman began his association with Richard M. Nixon as advance man with Nixon's 1960 Presidential campaign. Ehrlichman continued his association with Nixon by working on Nixon's 1962 gubernatorial and 1968 Presidential campaigns. Late in 1968 he came to Washington as a member of the Nixon transition team. His first position in the new administration was Counsel to the President. Although this position implied concern with the President's personal and official legal problems, Ehrlichman soon became involved with policy development as well. In November 1969, after being named Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, he exercised operational responsibilities over the Domestic Council. After December 1972, while keeping the same title, he assumed a more purely advisory role with the Council. As a result of allegations arising out of the Watergate break-in, Ehrlichman resigned form the White House staff on April 30, 1973. The files are arranged in seven series. The first series is the Appointment Calendars and Diaries. Four volumes of diaries have been removed from this series because they have been determined to be Ehrlichman's personal and private property and returned to him. As a result of this archival determination, the only items in this series are his appointment calendars. The second series, Notes of Meetings with the President, contains Ehrlichman's handwritten notes taken during his meetings both with the President and with other administration members and associates. The notes fall into three sub-series: Notes of meetings with the President, miscellaneous notes, and electrostatic copies of notes of meetings with the President. The copies of notes of meetings with the President do not include all of the originals. The notes for the meeting of the President, Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Kissinger at 4:45 p.m. on November 27, 1972, and a memorandum from the President to Ehrlichman, dated March 4, 1973, both present in the original notes, are not among the copies. In addition, in three instances notes included in the miscellaneous notes sub-series in the original are among the copies of notes of meetings with the President. The copies are distinct also in that Ehrlichman's notations of times of meetings more often survive on them than the originals--this is due to the placement of punch-holes on the originals. A table translating the symbols which Ehrlichman used in his notes is attached as Appendix A. Appendix B consists of the date and time of a meeting and the names of participants if these elements are present. Also indicated are a few words or phrases from the first lines of writing to differentiate the meetings. Entries are listed by series and thereunder by folder. Three subject files follow: Alphabetical Subject File, 1963 (1968)-1973, Numerical Subject File, 1969-(1970) 1971, and Special Subject File, 1958 (1968)-1973. The reason for Ehrlichman having created both alphabetical and numerical subject files is unknown. The alphabetical file is larger in volume than the numerical file. It was in use throughout Ehrlichman's tenure in the White House, whereas the numerical file ended in January 1971. Topics dealt with in the alphabetical file are more varied than those in the numerical file, as well as more personally and politically sensitive. On the other hand, the numerical file contains more material relating to domestic issues than does the alphabetical file. Several of the numerical files were transferred in January 1971 to other White House offices and staff members, and at least three files (on the Black Panther Party, the Western White House, and Edward Kennedy) were transferred to the Alphabetical Subject File. The Special Subject File was probably not an actual office file. It is composed of material that was on one manner of another separated from the working files in Ehrlichman's office. The last two series are the Chronological File and Speech and Briefing File. The former tends toward routine correspondence and memoranda. The latter includes, in addition to Ehrlichman's speeches and press conferences, a good deal of background material on the subjects covered by the speeches and briefings. Eighty-eight dictabelts and one audio cassette have been withdrawn from the file group and transferred to the audiovisual collection. Ehrlichman's office prepared transcripts of most of the recorded conversations and these are located in the appropriate files. There are, however, both transcripts for which no sound recordings exist in the file group and sound recordings for which there are no transcripts. Appendix C contains a complete listing of the withdrawn sound recordings and includes the name of all participants, date, and whether or not a transcript is available for each recorded conversation. The appendix does not list transcripts for which there are no sound recordings. Most of the material which has been withdrawn from the file group for return to Ehrlichman falls into two categories: diaries, and materials dating prior to January 20, 1969. Most of the latter material was located in the Alphabetical Subject file. In every instance where material in a folder has been returned, the folder title in the container list is followed by the designation "WITHDRAWN AND RETURNED." The Staff Member and Office Files of the White House Central Files contain an additional 16 cubic feet of textual materials and 103 reels of motion picture film from Ehrlichman's office. There is also an auto open signature matrix in the "too late to be accessioned" material. Two boxes of material originated in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and then sent to Ehrlichman sometime in 1971, were reclaimed by the FBI shortly after his resignation.

    Indexing Terms

    Ehlichman, John Daniel
    Ehrlichman, John D.

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