Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act
n. (abbr. PRMPA)a 1974 federal law that required the historical materials of President Richard Nixon and his White House staff related to Abuses of Governmental Power and Watergate and to the president’s constitutional and statutory duties to be transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration for retention and processing for public accessU.S. Code, 44 USC 2201When the Archivist considers it to be in the public interest the Archivist may accept for deposit ¶ (1) the papers and other historical materials of a President or former President of the United States, or other official or former official of the Government, and other papers relating to and contemporary with a President or former President of the United States, subject to restrictions agreeable to the Archivist as to their use; and ¶ (2) recorded information (as such term is defined in section 3301(a)(2) of this title) from private sources that are appropriate for preservation by the Government as evidence of its organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and transactions.Cook 1975, 322–323Title II of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act provided for the establishment of a National Study Commission on Records and Documents of Federal Officials consisting of seventeen members representing all branches of the federal government, historical associations, the Society of American Archivists, and qualified citizens, “to study problems and questions with respect to control, disposition, and preservation of records and documents produced by or on behalf of Federal officials.”Brown 2001, 10The 1974 Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act declared official presidential papers to be public property and the papers of all presidents beginning in 1981 to be the property of the United States.Behrnd-Klodt 2008, 151Declaring for the first time that presidential papers were public property, PRMPA directed the GSA [General Services Administration] to take custody of the Nixon papers and to preserve those with historical value, especially those pertinent to an understanding of Watergate and Nixon’s abuse of power.NARA 2016bPresidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA), which applies only to the Nixon Presidential Materials, stipulates that those materials relevant to the understanding of Abuse of Governmental Power and Watergate are to be processed and released to the public prior to the release of all other materials.
This law (44 USC 2111), enacted on December 19, 1974, applies only to the presidential materials of President Richard Nixon and required that records related to understanding the Abuses of Governmental Power and Watergate be processed and released before other records.