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Letter Accepting Proposal for the Establishment of a Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin.

August 09, 1965

Dear Mr. Heath:

It is a pleasure to acknowledge and thank you for your letter of August 6, 1965.

I have been aware, of course, of the existence of the other Presidential Libraries and their contribution to history. It has been a source of satisfaction to know that through these institutions we are making certain that the full record of each presidential administration is being carefully kept for study and use by all those interested in the history of our country.

Your letter has served as a suggestion that it is not too early for me to be giving thought to the planning of a similar institution for this administration. As you know, I am deeply committed to the preservation and safeguarding of our historical and cultural resources and have made an effort to preserve the papers of my own public career since 1937. I am, of course, particularly concerned that the generations that follow us should have the opportunity for detailed analysis of those historical records from which can be derived a full understanding of the momentous years through which we are passing.

Your letter has not only reminded me that it is time to give attention to this matter, but it has set my mind at rest as to how the whole question can best be dealt with. The fine public spirit and magnificent generosity that have prompted the University of Texas to make this unexampled offer of a site and structure on its campus for use as a Presidential Library should earn it the respect of the entire nation. I am pleased that you believe that placing the Library on the University of Texas campus will significantly strengthen and enrich the educational programs in which that great institution is engaged. I would also hope that your action would enhance the opportunity for improving the academic endeavors of all institutions of learning, and provide additional opportunities for scholarly research in public affairs.

It is with heartfelt gratitude, therefore, that I accept your proposal and join with you in this undertaking.

I have referred your proposal and a copy of this reply to Mr. Lawson B. Knott, Jr., Administrator of General Services, who is charged by existing law with establishing and operating Presidential Libraries as a part of our national archives system. Mr. Knott and I will cooperate in working out with you the detailed arrangements necessary to bring to actuality the benefits of this great national education asset which the University of Texas has undertaken to provide.

Sincerely yours,


[Honorable W. W. Heath, Chairman, Board of Regents, The University of Texas, Perry Brooks Building, Austin, Texas]

Note: Mr. Heath's letter follows:

Dear Mr. President:

It is our understanding that at an appropriate time you intend to donate your papers to the United States for ultimate deposit in a Presidential archival depository.

The University of Texas shares the belief of the academic world and others that the papers of a President constitute a vital part of our Nation's historical heritage. We likewise believe that the richness and fullness of the Nation's knowledge and understanding of that heritage depends in a large measure upon the completeness of a President's historical materials, the care with which they have been preserved, the adequacy of the archival and museum facilities in which they are housed, and their general accessibility and availability for scholarly research and study.

A university can only fulfill its total mandate by being sensitive to contemporary world affairs, the lessons of our national experience, and our Nation's constant effort to improve the processes of Government. The role of a university in bringing about an understanding of our times is affected adversely unless it can impart a knowledge of the conditions from which they arose; and it is equally clear that its responsibility to develop tomorrow's leaders, capable of making intelligent decisions for the future, can be greatly advanced when the inquisitive mind has available at the university the research collections from which a comprehensive view of the age in which we live can be obtained. It follows inevitably that convenient access to the rich resources of a Presidential Library, and the tremendous ancillary benefits which will follow will enable the University of Texas, in a most dramatic manner, to meet its responsibilities to expand its academic capabilities, especially at the graduate school level in the fields of history, government, economics, public administration and related disciplines. In furtherance of these objectives we intend to establish at the University of Texas a school to be known as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Institute of Public Service, at which we hope you will consent to teach or lecture after your retirement from the Presidency, devoting as much time thereto as you may find possible.

In view of the considerations set forth above, and the benefits which will thus accrue to the University of Texas in fulfilling its educational purposes and objectives as fixed by applicable law of the State of Texas, The University of Texas deems it an exceptional honor and privilege, consistent with its educational purposes and objectives, to make the following proposal:

1. The University, at its expense, will provide an appropriate site comprised of fourteen (14) acres within the principal academic environs of the University at Austin, Texas, to be utilized as the site of a presidential archival depository which will be known as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library. The University warrants against encroachment on or use of such site for purposes other than the site of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and related parking areas except as otherwise expressly provided herein, or as may be later agreed by the University of Texas, you or your representatives, and the Administrator of General Services or successors in legal functions. The site selected will be subject to approval by you or your designee.

2. The University, at its expense, will design, construct, furnish and equip a building to be located on such site. The selection of the architect or architects and the design concept of the facility, including its orientation on the selected site and its physical relationship with other University facilities will be subject to approval by you or your designee. The building is to contain the following:

a. not less than 100,000 square feet of space to be dedicated to use as a Presidential archival depository for the housing and display of Presidential papers and other historical materials relating to and contemporary with your life and works as a fitting and lasting memorial to you and your long and distinguished years of service to our beloved Nation, and

b. additional space as the University deems appropriate for University purposes as detailed in paragraph 5--c, hereof.

3. The University will confer with the Administrator of General Services or his designee concerning site selection, design, construction, furnishing, and equipping the Library including its museum aspects.

4. The University will provide adequate, convenient parking facilities for the use of visitors to the Presidential Library.

5. The University of Texas, in expanding its teaching capabilities in history, government, economics, public administration, and related disciplines, expects:

a. To have access to the Presidential papers and other historical materials housed in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, recognizing, however, that the Presidential Library will be a national research institution and, therefore, officers, faculty, and students of the University, along with scholars and other interested persons everywhere, will be accorded access to the collections of Presidential papers and other Presidential historical materials housed therein. The University understands also, particularly since it is anticipated that great numbers of people will visit this Library on The University of Texas campus daily, that reasonable regulations must be provided to insure orderly use of the materials and access to all such historical materials will be subject to such restrictions as may be imposed by the donors, or by statute, Executive Order, regulations, etc.

b. To offer and lend to the United States for deposit in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library certain papers and other historical materials now held by the University relating to and contemporary with the life and works of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and,

c. In addition to the space dedicated to the Presidential archival depository to provide space and related facilities in the building contemplated in Paragraph 2, hereof, for University purposes to be used in furtherance of studies and research in history, government, economics, public administration and related disciplines.

6. Upon completion of the construction, furnishing, and equipping of the space and facilities to be occupied by the Presidential archival depository, the University hereby undertakes and agrees to turn over, dedicate, and make available the same, including the furnishings and equipment therein, to the United States for its use in perpetuity as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, but without transfer of title, pursuant to the provisions of Section 507(f) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended.

7. In consideration of the foregoing and upon acceptance by the United States, the Presidential Library and the space and facilities occupied by it will be administered, operated, protected, maintained, and staffed in perpetuity by and at the expense of the United States of America. It is also understood and agreed that the administering, staffing, maintaining, operating and protecting the site of the Presidential Library and such portion of the building as is used for activities of the University as contemplated by Paragraph 5-c, hereof, shall be borne by the University.

8. The space and facilities to be occupied by the Presidential Library will be completed and available for occupancy within two years after final working drawings are ready for marketing: Provided, however, that in no event shall said two year period begin to run until the Administrator of General Services has entered into an agreement, as provided for in Section 607(f)(I) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended, with The University of Texas, to maintain, operate, and protect said Presidential Library as a part of the National Archives system. It is understood that the said Administrator may not enter into such an agreement prior to the expiration of the first period of 60 calendar days of continuous session of Congress following the date on which a report of the proposed transaction is transmitted to the Congress as required by Section 507(f) of the Property Act, supra. It is further understood that the time when such report may be submitted to the Congress is a matter entirely within the discretion of the President of the United States or his designee.

9. Upon your assent to this proposal The University of Texas will proceed with its implementation.
Chairman, Board of Regents

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter Accepting Proposal for the Establishment of a Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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