Letter to the Administrator of General Services Offering the President's Papers and Other Documentary Materials as a Gift to the United States
[ Released April 19, 1960. Dated April 13, 1960 ]
Dear Mr. Floete:
The papers of a President, which from the time of George Washington have been regarded as the personal property of the President, have, inescapably, a direct and important association with the history, of our country. Believing that they should be permanently and generally available for study, I desire that my papers should be made so available and believe that this can best be done through a Presidential archival depository, as provided by the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended.
The Eisenhower Presidential Library Commission, an agency of the State of Kansas, now has under construction in the City of Abilene a library building, financed by public subscription, where it is proposed to house my Presidential and other papers. This building is appropriately situated on land adjacent to my boyhood home and to a museum, both of which are maintained by the Eisenhower Foundation, a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of Kansas.
When the Library building has been completed, the Commission intends to present it, together with equipment and grounds, as a gift to the United States, on condition that the United States will maintain and operate this Library as a Presidential archival depository under the provisions of the above cited Act.
Therefore, in furtherance of this plan and in accordance with the provisions of that Act, I now offer as a gift to the United States such of my papers and other documentary materials as are hereinafter described, on condition that these papers and materials will be accepted, preserved, and made available by the United States under the following terms:
1. Upon the close of my term in office, I shall cause to be transferred to the United States for deposit in the Library at Abilene the bulk of my papers in the White House office, estimated to include several million documents.
2. Other documents still in my possession, including the remainder of my Presidential papers, the papers accumulated by me before my inauguration as President, and other documentary materials, including books, still pictures, motion pictures, and sound recordings, shall be transferred to the United States for deposit in said Library from time to time as shall be agreed upon by the Administrator of General Services or his representative and me or my representative, except those papers and other documentary materials which shall, before or after my leaving the Office of President, be determined by me or my representative to be excluded from this offer by reason of private or personal interest in such papers or materials on my part or on the part of a member of my family.
3. The offer of the papers and other materials described in paragraphs 1 and 2 hereof is conditioned upon acceptance by the United States of the offer of the land and buildings comprising the Eisenhower Library at Abilene, Kansas, and upon its agreement to maintain and operate the Library at all times thereafter as a Presidential archival depository for the storage of such papers and other materials, in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended, such acceptance and agreement to be effected within 90 days after the end of the period described in the second proviso to section 507 (f) (1) of said Act.
4. All papers and other documentary materials which shall be transferred to the United States pursuant to the foregoing shall be kept in the Library permanently, subject to the right of the Administrator of General Services in his discretion (a) to make temporary loans thereof to such persons, organizations, or institutions as he shall determine, (b) to dispose by sale, exchange, or otherwise of any such papers or documentary materials which the Archivist of the United States may determine to have no permanent or historical interest or to be surplus to the needs of said Library, and (c) to remove from said Library any or all such papers or documentary materials if he deems it necessary to preserve them from threatened destruction.
5. All papers and other documentary materials transferred to the United States pursuant to the foregoing shall be accessible at all reasonable times to me, my son, my representative, or to other persons authorized in writing by me or my son to have access to such papers.
6. It is my purpose to make the papers and other documentary materials donated to the United States by the terms of this instrument available for purposes of serious research as soon as possible and to the fullest extent possible. However, since the President of the United States is the recipient of many confidences from others, and since the inviolability of such confidences is essential to the functioning of the office of the Presidency, it will be necessary to withhold from public scrutiny certain papers and classes of papers for varying periods of time. In pursuance of this objective and in accordance with the provisions of Section 507 (f) (3) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended, conditions are imposed on the use of my papers as provided in paragraphs 7 through 10 immediately following.
7. Subsequent to the execution of this instrument, the Administrator of General Services shall have the papers that are transferred to the United States reviewed and shall place under seal the following classes of materials:
a. Papers that are security-classified pursuant to law or Executive Order, until such classification shall be removed.
b. Papers the use of which may be prejudicial to the maintenance of good relations with foreign nations.
c. Papers containing statements made by or to me in confidence.
d. Papers relating to my family or private business affairs, and papers relating to the families or private business affairs of persons who have had correspondence with me.
e. Papers containing statements about individuals which might be used to injure or harass them or members of their families.
f. Such other individual files as I, or my representative, or the Administrator of General Services may specify.
8. Papers placed under seal shall not be made available to anyone or their contents divulged to anyone (including public officials) except (a) persons authorized under the terms of paragraph 5 above, and (b) officials and employees of the National Archives and Records Service when performing essential archival work processes on such papers under the supervision of the Administrator of General Services.
9. All papers placed under seal in accordance with the foregoing provisions shall be reexamined from time to time by officials and employees of the National Archives and Records Service under the direction of the Administrator of General Services and, subject to approval by me or my representative, shall be opened to research use as soon as the passage of time or other circumstances have removed the conditions that required that they be put under seal.
10. All competent private persons interested in using my papers for serious scholarly research shall be granted equal access to those that are not withheld from use according to the foregoing, subject to the regulations issued by the Administrator of General Services governing the use of papers and other documentary materials in the Library.
11. Title to my papers and other documentary materials and the literary property rights in my papers, shall pass to the United States as such papers and materials are transferred to the United States under the terms and conditions herein expressed, except that I reserve to myself and to my heirs (a) a right to make any use of any of these papers in writing for publication, and (b) literary property rights in any works that I have written or may hereafter write for publication. These reservations include the right to license any publisher of any such work.
12. My representative for purposes of paragraphs 2, 5, 7, 8 and 9 shall be such person or persons as I may designate in a letter filed with the Administrator of General Services. In the event that at any time after my death there should be no representative so designated, my representative shall be my son John Eisenhower, or such person or persons as he may designate in the same manner.
The detailed conditions described in this letter have been drawn up in accordance with known precedents and with the cooperation of officials of your office and of the National Archives. Permit me to express my deep appreciation of the help that all these individuals have given me.
With personal regard,
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Note: Mr. Floete's reply, dated April 15, follows:
Dear Mr. President:
It gives me great pleasure to accept, in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended, your offer of certain papers and other documentary materials subject to the conditions prescribed in your letter of April 13, 1960.
Mr. John P. Harris, Chairman of the Eisenhower Presidential Library Commission, has written me on behalf of the Commission, offering to convey as a gift to the United States the land, building and equipment necessary to the establishment of the Eisenhower Library. The Commission's offer is subject to further action of the Kansas Legislature, which must give the Commission authority to convey title, but the Commission is confident this action will be taken at the 1961 session. The Commission has also offered the Library property for use in the meantime as a Presidential archival depository. Copies of Mr. Harris' letter and my reply are enclosed.
While final transfer of title will be delayed until the Kansas Legislature has acted, I understand that all necessary steps under the laws of the United States and the State of Kansas can be completed so that the building will be constructed and available to house your papers by the time you leave Office. For this, every American is indebted not only to the Commission headed by Mr. Harris but also to the Governor's National Committee for the Eisenhower Presidential Library, of which Governor Docking and Senator Darby are co-chairmen.
Also, we are all deeply indebted to you, Mr. President, for making your papers available for preservation and .use in a public institution. There they will be safeguarded, reviewed, and catalogued by professional archivists so that as time passes they may become increasingly available for use by all serious researchers who seek to know and understand the history of our times.
Because of the Library's national significance, it is a great privilege for us in GSA to participate in the preparations necessary for this important addition to our national archives system.
The President's letter and Mr. Floete's reply were released at Augusta, Ga., together with the exchange of letters between Mr. Harris and Mr. Floete.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to the Administrator of General Services Offering the President's Papers and Other Documentary Materials as a Gift to the United States Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234161