n.an official record of the Office of the President of the United States, especially as defined in law Cook 1975, 299One common theme runs through the argument of these archivists who accept the position that presidential records are private property. Over and over they have asserted the premise that the constitutional nature of the presidential office exempts the papers of that office from public control.Weir 1979, 244Specifically excluded from the definition of presidential records are records of federal agencies, non-record copies of publications, reference copies of records “when such copies are clearly so identified,” and personal records.NYT 1980, 21President Carter has told members of his staff that they may not take any Presidential papers out of the White House unless they first get permission and sign an agreement not to quote from any document without his approval.Synnott 1982, 183Moreover, Princeton’s holdings of presidential records were decidedly scanty in comparison with Harvard’s and Yale’s holdings. The archives now has one box of files from Woodrow Wilson’s presidency and the library’s Rare Books and Special Collections department has some Wilson correspondence, but the bulk of his papers is in the Library of Congress.Geselbracht and Reed 1983, 72Assuring the full documentation of a presidency is the proper mission of a White House liaison office. While the effect of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 on the liaison function is not yet clear, the success the liaison offices have had in preserving and augmenting the historical record of the Johnson, Nixon, and Carter administrations probably assures that their work will be carried on.Peterson 1986, 129Unfortunately, by treating presidential papers separately from the general question of personal papers of government officials, the theoretical distinctions between records and papers were not resolved.Haight 1989, 34While the Freedom of lnformation Act (FOIA) allows individuals to request reviews of classified documents among official government records and within official presidential records created after 20 January 1981 (after five years from the time the president leaves office), the mandatory review system covers presidential papers.Montgomery 1993, 587It is important to note that Nixon’s campaign to control his presidential records coincidentally produced an important legal legacy of constitutional law concerning the prerogatives of the executive branch with respect to the other two branches of government.Bearman 1993a, 676Both acknowledge that the White House created both presidential records and federal records and that each of these categories of records is governed by separate acts.Brown 2001, 23While presidential records are legally considered to be in the public domain, President Bush’s executive order shows how easily the clock can be turned back on the public’s right to know.Montgomery 2003, 106Congress enacted the PRA to prevent another legal crisis surrounding ownership of presidential records by asserting public ownership over presidential materials and ensuring their preservation and public accessibility according to established procedures governing these materials at the end of a presidential administration.Behrnd-Klodt 2008, 152Included among the official records belonging to the federal government are presidential communications and private communications with advisors, all of which would be released and opened to the public twelve years after the president left office. Thereafter, access to presidential records could be denied only under Freedom of Information Act exemptions or if a former or incumbent president claimed executive privilege or national security concerns.U.S. Code, 44 USC 2201The term “Presidential records” means documentary materials, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof, created or received by the President, his immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise and assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President. Such term (A) includes any documentary materials relating to the political activities of the President or members of his staff, but only if such activities relate to or have a direct effect upon the carrying out of constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President; but (B) does not include any documentary materials that are (i) official records of an agency (as defined in section 552(e) of title 5, United States Code); (ii) personal records; (iii) stocks of publications and stationery; or (iv) extra copies of documents produced only for convenience of reference, when such copies are clearly so identified.an official record created by any president of any nation or organizationSynnott 1982, 182In terms of finding aids, Harvard had the most detailed inventories of presidential papers, which listed folders alphabetically by descriptive title in chronological periods. Although there was neither an index nor an inventory to the deans’ papers, they were quite usable because they were boxed alphabetically by folder title.Lee 2006, 118This study investigates the interrelation between the public archival system and political democratization in the Republic of Korea by reviewing the history of presidential records in three eras: the era of the absence of public records under authoritarian regimes (1948–1993), the era of the establishment of the basic principle for managing presidential records under two civilian administrations (1993–2003), and the era of new prospects for public archives under a new government (2003–present).
After the Presidential Records Act went into effect in 1981, the archives profession, as well as the national media, began to use the term “presidential records” in place of “presidential papers” to refer to official records created and received by the President of the United States. This change in usage specifically recognized that these records were no longer considered the personal papers of the President by official records of the United States government belonging to all the citizens of the country.