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Special Staff Files, White House Special Files, 1969-1974
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These files were collected from various staff members who do not have a larger file group in the Special Files. This file group consists of selected materials from 19 staff members and concerns diverse topics and includes 2 boxes of George Bush material relating to his appointment as ambassador to the United Nations.
The Special Files Unit was created in September 1972 to provide a central storage location for sensitive material. Early in 1970, John R. Brown III, Special Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary, conducted a review of the handling procedures for all Presidential papers. His report was contained in a memorandum to H.R. Haldeman, dated March 25, 1970. In it, Brown recommended the immediate establishment of a special files unit to handle the storage of all sensitive material, material of a personal nature, and material containing the President's handwriting. The consolidation of these files into a central location would, according to his recommendation, tighten up the procedures for handling Presidential papers. Two years later the Nixon administration acted on the recommendations by establishing a special files unit within the White House complex that was completely independent of the White House Central Files unit. To ensure the utmost security, the number of individuals who worked in the Special Files Unit was intentionally kept at a minimum. Gertrude Brown Fry, Staff Assistant for Security, was appointed to supervise the new White House unit. Her Assistant was Hazel F. Fulton, who had been a confidential assistant to Peter M. Flanigan, Assistant to the President. Prior to the establishment of Special Files, much of the sensitive materials generated by the White House staff was not forwarded to the White House Central Files for general storage, but it was dispersed throughout the White House complex and held by individual staff members in their own offices. Following the decision to set up Special Files, John W. Dean III, Counsel to the President, instructed Fry and Fulton to receive, index, and file all sensitive White House staff materials. They were also provided criteria to use in making determinations about items to include in Special Files. Under the criteria there were twelve groups of files that warranted special care and handling: investigative reports on individuals; applications and recommendations for positions; documents that contained derogatory remarks concerning the character, loyalty, integrity, or ability of individuals; documents relating to personal, family, or financial affairs of individuals; documents that contained information which could be used to harass living persons or relatives of recently deceased persons; information prejudicial to the national security; information prejudicial to foreign relations; communications addressed to the President in confidence, the immediate publication of which would result in discouraging confidential communications to the President in the future; documents that pertained to the President's personal, family, business, and financial affairs; security classified information; documents specifically restricted by the President; and politically sensitive information or documents. With these instructions Fry proceeded to set up, organize, and manage the Special Files. The first materials received by the new White House unit were the President's handwriting files and the files of the Staff Secretary. Fry and Fulton also began to review the Confidential Files in the White House Central Files, including the subject files and retired files of White House staff members, to determine which documents should be removed and placed in the Special Files. Furthermore, it was decided to continue the same arrangement scheme used by the White House Central Files unit rather than to devise a new filing system for Special Files materials. A cross-reference card was prepared for use by the White House Central Files unit to indicate the new location of withdrawn items in Special Files. This practice, however, was not always done as time passed. It was the intention of the Special Files Unit that each senior White House staff member would send sensitive materials to Special Files for storage and exclusive retrieval by the staff member. In practice, however, Special Files did not receive sensitive materials from many top staff members. When staff members did resign their appointment or left the White House staff, the Special Files Unit received all their files and reviewed them for items that met the specified criteria for sensitivity and inclusion in Special Files. All nonsensitive materials were subsequently forwarded to the White House Central Files for general storage. If the Special Files Unit did not receive a large quantity of sensitive materials from a particular staff member, but only a few folders, these folders were placed in the file group known as Special Staff Files. Although Special Files was a development of the Nixon administration, it did not immediately end with the resignation of President Nixon on August 9, 1974. The Special Files Unit continued to operate for an additional eleven months by serving the needs of the Ford White House staff. On June 23, 1975, the Ford administration abolished Special Files, and all sensitive materials in its custody were transferred to the Confidential Files of the White House Central Files.
2 linear feet, 7 linear inches; 6 boxes
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.
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.