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Collection Guide
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White House Gift Unit, White House Central Files, 1969-1974
6219826  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The White House Gift Unit was responsible for sending and receiving White House Gifts and Cards. The series contains correspondence, subject files, Gift lists and cards and form letters.
Background
The White House Gift Unit (WHGU) was established during the Eisenhower administration to deal with the increasing number of items presented to the Chief Executive and his family by foreign officials and U.S. citizens. Under the direction of Lucy Ferguson (1969-1972) and Marge Wicklein (1973-1974), the White House Gift Unit during the Nixon years grew in size and responsibility. The unit's primary task continued to be the documenting of gifts or gift-like items presented to the First Family. These items were received by the WHGU in one of several ways: directly from the White House Mail Room as they arrived and were unpacked; from the Congressional Liaison Office and members of the White House staff who accepted them on behalf of the President; from the Office of Protocol in the Department of State; and from the First Family. When the items were in the unit's physical custody, its first job was to fill out a special printed 3" x 5" card that was designed to give the WHGU some measure of control over the gift collection. During the Nixon administration, the WHGU used four color-coded cards to indicate either the type of gift or the recipient. Four basic colors signified the following: white (the President), yellow (First Lady and daughters), pink (foreign gifts, including head of state and individuals), and green (WHGU office copy of all domestic gifts). After a gift was properly logged in, WHGU personnel drafted a suitable but routine acknowledgment letter. Once it was typed, the letter was sent to the appropriate official or family member for signature. If a particular item required a special reply, Rose Mary Woods, Roland L. Elliott, or Michael B. Smith drafted the letter for the President and Lucy A. Winchester, Social Secretary, did likewise for Mrs. Nixon Additional responsibilities were assigned to the expanded White House Gift Unit of the Nixon administration. They included packing and inventorying incoming gifts and then making the necessary arrangements to transport them to the National Archives for courtesy storage; photographing most of the head of state gifts received; and, at the direction of the First Family, ordering items for presentation to foreign dignitaries and other select visitors.
Extent
22 linear feet, 9 linear inches; 52 boxes
Restrictions
Most government records are in the public domain; however, this series includes commercial materials, such as newspaper clippings, that may be subject to copyright restrictions. Researchers should contact the copyright holder for information.
Availability
Collection is open for research. Some materials may be unavailable based upon categories of materials exempt from public release established in the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974.