Guide to the Sydney Nathans Collection, 1975-1981
The papers in this collection were brought together by Professor Sydney Nathans in conjunction with the controversy that arose in 1981 when Duke faculty members, along with alumni and alumnae, learned of president Terry Sanford's negotiations with former U. S. President Richard Nixon to locate the Nixon presidential library on the campus of Duke University. The papers contain correspondence including that of Terry Sanford, and of the creator of the collection, Sydney Nathans; newspaper and magazine clippings as well as scholarly articles; text from speeches; official statements from groups opposing the Nixon Library, including the Committee Against the Nixon-Duke Library; and Sydney Nathans' handwritten notes from a variety of meetings. Documents also include Nathans' research on existing presidential libraries, the results of which were presented to the Duke Academic Council and to the Board of Trustees.
- Record Group
- Sydney Nathans collection
- Nathans, Sydney
- 0.5 Linear Feet, 500 items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The papers contain correspondence (including that of Terry Sanford, and of the creator of the collection, Sydney Nathans); newspaper and magazine clippings as well as scholarly articles; text from speeches; official statements from groups opposing the Nixon Library; and Sydney Nathan's handwritten notes from a variety of meetings. Documents also include Nathan's research on existing presidential libraries.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
In July 1981, Terry Sanford initiated negotiations with former U. S. President Richard Nixon (Duke Law '37) to locate the Nixon presidential library on the campus of Duke University, Nixon's alma mater. When this information was revealed to faculty members during the week of August 10, 1981, many opposed the proposition, citing Sanford's failure to consult the faculty prior to initiating negotiations.
Many who opposed the library had moral objections to memorializing a President whose behavior in office was reproachable, and they feared a negative effect on the university's reputation. Other concerns included the effects of increased tourist traffic on campus and the uncertain aesthetic nature of the proposed structure. However, supporters of the Nixon Library argued that the scholarly and academic benefits of locating the Nixon Presidential Materials collection on campus should and would outweigh other concerns. These supporters tended to denounce the actions of vocal dissenters as divisive and arrogant. To learn more about these and other issues concerning the potential impact on Duke of the proposed Nixon Library, Professor Sydney Nathans researched modern presidential libraries. His findings were presented to members of the Duke Academic Council as well as the Board of Trustees, and he based his own formal statement in August of 1981 to the Council on these findings.
Meetings of the Academic Council and Board of Trustees during September and October 1981 were dominated by the Nixon Library debate, and a group of faculty formed the Committee Against the Nixon-Duke Library (CANDL) to organize the efforts of faculty, students, alumni, and others opposed to the proposed library. Although the Academic Council voted not to pursue further negotiations with former president Nixon in a 35-34 decision at a September 3, 1981 meeting, the Board of Trustees later voted 9-2 to proceed. By April 1982, negotiations had stalled. One year later, Nixon's representatives announced that a site at Chapman College in San Clemente, California, had been chosen for the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library.
- Duke University. Committee Against the Nixon-Duke Library
- Duke University. Board of Trustees
- Duke University. Academic Council
- Duke University -- Faculty
- Duke University -- Alumni and alumnae
- Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994 -- Public opinion
- Nathans, Sydney
- Nathans, Sydney
- Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
- Presidential libraries -- United States
- Sanford, Terry
- Nixon Library Controversy collection. (University Archives, Duke University.)
- Committee Against the Nixon-Duke Library (CANDL). (University Archives, Duke University.)
[Identification of item], Sydney Nathans Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Sydney Nathans Collection was received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1985.
Processed by Mike Millner, September 2006
Encoded by Mike Millner, October 2006
Updated by Molly Bragg, July 2011
Accession 85-30 is described in this finding aid.