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    Nixon Library vs. the Nixon Foundation, who controls the hallways?

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | March 31, 2008


    Nixon Library in Yorba Linda

    The Nixon Presidential Library (run by the National Archives, note the .gov) and the Nixon Library Foundation (run by his friends and family, note the .org) have this very odd relationship, where they co-exist in the same building but have slightly different goals (truth/history versus honoring the man).

    The saga of the federal government and the Nixon’s estate is contentious and fascinating, involving a series of lawsuits and Supreme Court decisions.

    As a result of protracted negotiation, the National Archives moved into the building in July 2007 and took control of many aspects of the operatio. This, in part, allows much of Nixon’s presidential papers (which were controlled by the federal government not allowed outside a 25-mile radius of the capital per Congressional law) to be brought to Yorba Linda (Nixon’s birthplace), where the museum/foundation had the pre- and post-presidential papers. A president’s library without presidential papers is unfortunate, so ceding control over the library was the cost of being physically reunited with the (all-important) presidential papers.

    To update it, the National Archives is re-doing the exhibit on Watergate, which had been previously been portrayed as a unfortunate blip on an otherwise great career.

    The whole relationship gets into the interesting history of presidential libraries and the laws, passed post-Watergate during the Carter administration, that now govern them. Most of the time, the relationship is not contentious. But at the Nixon Library, they have even used highlighter to designate who controls what.

    The National Archives, in a key strategic move, controls the hallways.

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