George Romney Papers  1920s-1973
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All Series Level Scope and Content Notes

The papers of George Romney document the many faceted career of an automobile executive, governor of Michigan, candidate for President, cabinet officer, and activist on behalf of volunteerism. In this electronic version of the finding aid to the Romney papers, there are six subgroups of materials. These are Gubernatorial Papers covering the period of 1962 to 1969, Pre-gubernatorial Papers covering the period before taking office in 1963, Post-gubernatorial Papers covering the period after 1968, records of Romney Associates (a group established during his bid for the presidency), Visual Materials covering mainly the period up to 1969, and Sound Recordings also covering up to 1969. There is some overlapping of dates, particularly around the time when Romney was first elected governor in 1962 and the period when he joined the Nixon administration in 1969. The researcher should also note that the papers of Lenore Romney are not part of this finding aid.

The gubernatorial collection of George Romney is the most important resource for the study of state government during the years 1963-1968. The collection presently totals 432 linear feet of correspondence, memoranda and official reports relating to all aspects of the workings of the executive branch of the state government. The great bulk of the files came to the library in 1969 when Romney left office; a few additional feet of materials came in 1983 as part of the William Milliken accession.

The collection, overall, concerns the administration of the governor's office, the governor's relationship with the boards and commissions under his charge, and the governor's responsibility as the state's highest ranking executive officer in proposing legislation and in responding to public crises and constituent concerns. Specifically, the Romney papers provide a wide range of information on the governor's response to such continuing areas of concern as education, civil rights, housing, labor disputes, environmental protection, highway safety, public welfare, and taxation. During his terms in office, Romney also had to face such particular issues as the reapportionment of the state's congressional districts, the implementation of the 1963 state constitution, the National Guard's alleged misuse of state funds, the Detroit Riot of 1967, and the Detroit newspaper strike of 1967. Also affecting the content of the files is the fact that during these same years Romney was a serious presidential candidate; and as a result, the gubernatorial papers have extensive material relating to the study of state and national politics and Republican Party matters.

In 1983, as part of a larger governor's papers project, the George Romney Collection was selected for reprocessing and reappraisal. The usability of the governor's papers as received precluded any thought of making extensive alteration in the file categories maintained by Romney's office. With slight modifications (primarily the combining of similar or overlapping series), the order of the files has been retained. The only rearrangement undertaken was in the ordering or grouping of series within the collection. Files maintained on a yearly basis were brought together as part of a Chronological series; files either covering a longer period of time or maintained by the governor's office as a unit have been grouped together as Governor's Office; and the remainder has been categorized as Political/Miscellaneous.

As part of its own control system, the governor's office maintained a card index to Romney correspondents. This card file, located in boxes 440-448, provides name access to those individuals and organizations having dealings with the state's executive.

The Chronological Series consists of files maintained yearly by the governor's office. For each year from 1963 to 1968, the following categories of records were established: Boards and Commissions; General Subjects; Federal; Military Affairs; and Legislation.

Boards and Commissions is a yearly set of records arranged alphabetically by the name of the state board or commission, also for elective executive offices (Attorney General, Secretary of State, the Auditor General, etc.). The following types of records may be included for the various boards and commissions: communications with the agency head, audits and other budgetary materials, minutes of meetings, reports, printed matter, and constituent mail. Much of this latter correspondence is of a routine character, and consists of citizen complaints or discussions of personal problems that normally come within the responsibility of a specific state department or commission.

The organization of this set of records changed midway into Romney's years in office with the ratification of the new state constitution. Under the old constitution, Michigan had established a large number of fairly independent state boards and commissions. So for the years 1963-1965, the researcher should look directly within the alphabetical sequence for the name of the agency in which he/she is interested. After 1965, however, with the reorganization of the executive, the state made an effort to streamline its operations and to provide greater administrative control over the various agencies. Established were subject departments (conservation, education, commerce, etc.) which had responsibility over the formerly independent boards and commissions. The filing of the governor's papers reflected the change. Thus, Racing Commission, for example, once filed under R, is now filed under its parent body, the Department of Agriculture. The researcher should thus consult the Michigan Manual (1965-1966), pp. 211-261 for a listing of the various departments and commissions and their placement within the newly created state departments (Acts 380, Public Acts of 1965).

General Subjects is a yearly set of files arranged alphabetically and consisting primarily of citizen correspondence on a wide variety of subjects. Although much of these files are of a routine character, the files do reflect the concerns of the people of the state to the issues of the day.

Federal is a smaller sequence of records (primarily correspondence, reports and memoranda) documenting the governor's relationship with the Federal Government. The files have been maintained in their original order within the following categories: Miscellaneous (including communications on national topics such as the Peace Corps, the Vietnam War, etc.) U.S. Congress (House and Senate) Cabinet Departments (arranged alphabetically) Commissions and other regulatory agencies (arranged alphabetically) Legislation (federal legislation affecting Michigan)

Military is a small set of records concerning the governor's relationship with the adjutant general and the National Guard, but also concerning veterans matters. Beginning in 1966 with the reorganization of the executive branch, these records came to be filed with Boards and Commissions under Military Affairs.

Legislation is a small set of files consisting mainly of constituent correspondence on varying pieces of state legislation. There are no files for 1963 or 1964.

The Governor's Office series consists of files created and maintained by individuals on Governor Romney's staff. The subseries include Topical File, 1962-1968, of Margaret Little, Press Office, Invitations, Governor Personal, Staff Files, and Study Commissions/Governor's Conferences, 1963-1968

This is a file of personal papers maintained by Romney's secretary Margaret Little. The files have been arranged alphabetically by subject, and consist largely of correspondence, with some staff memoranda and assorted reports and published material. The provenance (or source) of this subseries has been partially clouded with its transfer to the library. It seems to be a file that Romney maintained before becoming governor and which he continued after he left office. It does not appear to be confidential in nature, although some of the correspondents did write on personal, as opposed to state, matters. Some staff materials have been improperly folded into this subseries, but it has not been possible to identify what belongs with the subseries and what has been added to it. For this reason, the Margaret Little files should be used in conjunction with related materials found within the Chronological Series, General Subject files and the Governor's Office Series, Staff Files.

The subseries - Press Office - includes eight sub-subseries. Topical files, 1963-1968 (boxes 229-246) include correspondence, press releases, clippings and collected materials, arranged alphabetically. Topics include public policy questions, politics, and national and international topics. As with many of the other files in the gubernatorial papers, the researcher in using these topical files should be aware that related materials may be found elsewhere within the collection.

The George T. Trumbull, Jr. Files, 1965-1968 (box 247) relate to subjects that heavily involved Romney's press secretary. These include inaugural preparations, planning for a Detroit Olympics, and a celebration honoring Michigan astronauts.

Speeches, and Speech Material 1963-1968 (boxes 248-270) are arranged chronologically. These files usually include a copy of the speech as delivered, sometimes with marked-up copies. There are also often materials relating to the arrangements for the speech, and about the occasion at which the speech was delivered. These files consist mainly of those speeches delivered as governor. These are obviously addresses of a political nature, but these will also be found in the Political/Miscellaneous series of the gubernatorial papers and in the Romney Associates subgroup. Speeches delivered before 1962 and after 1968 will be found in the appropriate Romney accessions.

Biographical material (box 271) includes clippings and magazine articles about Romney. Related material will be found in the Press Subseries, Topical Files. The Romney Weekly Reports (box 271) are a collection of the governor's newsletters.

Special Messages (box 272) include folders relating to Romney's special messages to the legislature.

Proclamations, 1963-1968 (boxes 273-283), are arranged chronologically. Included are copies of final proclamation as well as drafts.

Press Releases, 1963-1968 (boxes 283-290), are arranged chronologically.

Schedules, 1963-1968 (boxes 291-292), are arranged chronologically.

Clippings, 1962-1967 (boxes 364 and 427-438), are arranged alphabetically within chronological groupings.

The Invitations subseries, 1963-1968 (boxes 293-301), is arranged chronologically. These are files of accepted invitations only. Declinations have been discarded. There are two boxes of Lenore Romney invitations (boxes 302-303). Her declinations have also been discarded.

Governor Personal, 1963-1968. Arranged alphabetically by year. This is not a personal file in terms of the importance or substance of the materials. The files include birthday and holiday greetings, congratulations, gifts received and sent, etc. Occasionally, within the miscellaneous files, there will be a letter from a prominent individual or organization, but these are usually courtesy communications only. In some ways, this subseries dovetails with the letters in the Margaret Little subseries.

Staff Files is a subseries consisting of files identified as belonging to members of Romney's staff or departments within the executive branch. Except for legal papers, kept physically separate from the other files, the staff files seem to be working papers relating to matters of current or continuing interest to the staff member involved. Legal: Robert Danhof (boxes 314-324; 339; 420) consists of memoranda, correspondence, legal materials, reports, and other materials, arranged alphabetically by subject. Danhof was a trusted Romney advisor and these files are substantive on matters of government. Of special interest are the files on the Detroit Riot (box 319), labor disputes (box 317), and legislative materials.

Related, but separated under Program Development (box 342), are materials concerning the Special Committee for the Revision of the Criminal Code. Theodore Blizzard (boxes 325-327) served in the State Department of Mental Health. In 1967, he moved into the governor's office as administrative assistant in the division of program development. The Blizzard Files, mostly dated 1967, are arranged alphabetically by topic. Subjects covered include agriculture, mental health, migrant labor, public health, urban problems, and vocational rehabilitation.

Charles Orlebeke (boxes 327-330 and 421-422) headed the division of program development. His files, mainly 1966-1968 but with some earlier papers, have been arranged alphabetically by topic. Covering a wide range of subjects, the Orlebeke files are especially significant for material on civil rights, education, mental health, and various social welfare issues. As Orlebeke and Blizzard worked within program development, the researcher is also directed to those staff papers (boxes 340-342) labeled as Program Development. These files, 1967-1968, concern the work of the Crime Commission, the Economics Opportunity Program, the Youth Commission, and the Special Committee for the Revision of the Criminal Code.

There are smaller sets of files for Charles Harmon, Richard Helmbrecht, Walt DeVries, William Whitbeck, Herbert DeJong, Glenn Allen, James C. Kellogg, Lucille Kapplinger, and J. Dennis Burns (boxes 331-333; 339; and 420-422). Principal subjects covered include health care, taxation, medicare, and pending legislation.

Included with the staff files are subject files maintained by the governor's office (boxes 334-338). These have been arranged alphabetically and concern civil defense, conservation/recreation, economic opportunity, human resources, water resources, and urban matters. Though the files do contain substantive correspondence, reports, and memoranda, other sets of files (especially regarding water) consist mainly of background material collected as a reference source.

Study Commissions/Governor's Conferences, 1963-1968 These files, maintained as a unit, relate to the work of the various study commissions and conferences created by executive authority. The files have been arranged by year, then alphabetically. The Michigan Manual lists the names of the commissions included. Some of them are ongoing in which case material will be found within different years; others (mainly the governor's conferences) are listed in their duration. As with most of the series and subseries in the governor's records, related material will be found elsewhere.

This series includes subseries for Romney's political papers and those materials unassociated with other series and subseries.

Political Files, 1958-1968, is the subseries that concerns Romney's gubernatorial campaigns in 1962, 1964, and 1966. Some are the files of George Romney's campaign manager, Arthur Elliott. Others are Phil O. Pittenger papers. The Pittenger papers go back to his work on behalf of Paul Bagwell in the gubernatorial elections of 1958 and 1960. The files have been grouped by year, and then alphabetically. They concern both George Romney's running for office and his relationship with the Republican Party.

Miscellaneous is comprised of smaller sets of files that were maintained separately by the governor's office. Here are files relating to Romney's appointments to state boards and commissions, extradition materials (1962-1963 only), formal appointment orders, agenda for the State Board of Education, minutes of the Michigan Employment Security Commission, and various printed material generated by a state board/commission or relating to a public issue (such as the new constitution or tax reform).

The Pre-Gubernatorial subgroup of the George Romney papers consists of material from the period of 1939-1962, and documents Romney's management of American Motors, his involvement with Citizens for Michigan, and his activities as delegate to Michigan's constitutional convention of 1961-1962. The subgroup concludes with materials from Romney's successful campaign for governor in 1962. The subgroup presently totals 21 linear feet (15 linear feet of files and 6 linear feet of sound recordings described as part of the Sound Recordings subgroup).

In addition to George Romney's public career, the Pre-Gubernatorial subgroup also documents Romney's private activities. The subgroup includes an important file of both personal correspondence and correspondence pertaining to his activities and interests in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). Romney also maintained correspondence with members of his immediate family and other Romney relatives which has been included with this series.

Of noteworthy interest, the Pre-Gubernatorial subgroup contains copies of the letter which Romney wrote to presidential candidates, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, during the campaign of 1960. Romney outlined for the candidates some of the major issues facing the country. The subgroup includes the responses of the candidates to Romney's critique.

As with the other subgroups within the George Romney papers, the Pre-Gubernatorial subgroup includes Romney's speech file for the period 1942-1962. There is also a large series of audio-tapes of most of these speeches. These are listed in the finding aid to the Sound Recordings subgroup.

This subgroup of papers covers the period when Romney served in the Nixon administration as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1969-1972. Included also are files documenting Secretary Romney's involvement with the voluntary action movement, first as chairman of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Voluntary Action, later as executive board member of the National Center for Voluntary Action. A smaller portion of this series relates to the Concerned Citizens Movement, an organization established to educate people in public affairs and to serve as a citizens watchdog over various government activities.

The subgroup has been arranged into six series: HUD Subject Files; Voluntary Action; Concerned Citizens Movement; Later Career; Personal Papers; and Speeches.

The HUD Subject File (13.5 linear feet; 1969-1973) consists of memoranda, reports, correspondence, clippings, and some published materials relating to Romney's service as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This series documents Romney's achievements in the area of housing: increased housing production during his administration, the development of new financial devices through the Governmental National Mortgage Association to make available and to secure mortgage monies, the "New Communities" program designed to provide thousands of new homes to thirteen new community developments, and "Operation Breakthrough," a program that sought to stimulate improvements in the housing industry. This series also provides information about Romney's role as administrator of an important cabinet position and of his relationship with President Nixon and members of the president's immediate staff. The researcher should realize that this series, although rich in substantive memoranda and correspondence, does not provide a complete picture of the operation of HUD during the 1969-1972 period; for that, the researcher is of course directed to the National Archives and to the archives maintained by HUD itself.

The next series - Voluntary Action (2.5 linear feet; 1969-1973) - relates to the effort broadly called the National Program for Voluntary Action which consisted of the privately-funded, non-political National Center for Voluntary Action (NCVA) and the federal Office of Voluntary Action (OVA) which was the service arm of the Cabinet Subcommittee on Voluntary Action created in 1969 by President Nixon and chaired by George Romney. The purpose of this joint venture was to develop a non-governmental vehicle to mobilize and strengthen existing volunteer organizations into a harmonious working relationship with each other and with the government. This series includes memoranda, correspondence, working files, and other materials, and documents Romney's deep concern in bringing public and private interests together. This series is not completely processed, but sufficiently usable for research.

A third series entitled Concerned Citizens Movement (2.75 linear feet; 1972-1973) documents Romney's idea for a national watchdog agency, a national coalition of concerned citizens who would study the facts surrounding public policy issues and offer various solutions intended to resolve questions of public debate. This series consists of working files for the organization as well as correspondence from individuals wanting to participate in the movement.

Other Public Activities (.3 linear feet; 1973) is a small grouping of files relating to other phases of Romney's career, particularly his participation in the presidential election of 1972 and his exploration of the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate from Utah in 1974.

Personal Papers (4 linear feet; 1969-1973) is a continuation of a set of files found in Romney's gubernatorial files. This series consists mainly of personal correspondence with friends and acquaintances on subjects apart from his HUD responsibilities. These files are arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by name of correspondent.

Speeches (18 linear feet; 1969-1973) is the largest series in the Post-Gubernatorial subgroup of the Romney papers. Arranged chronologically, each file usually contains Romney's reading copy of the speech, a published or mimeographed version of the speech, background material used by the speechwriters in the preparation of the address, and clippings and correspondence about Romney's appearance. This series originally consisted of two separate chronologies: one a file of speeches as maintained by Peg Little, Romney's secretary, and two, the files of Romney's principal speechwriters, Albert A. Applegate and Kent S. Larsen. These sequences have been folded together for ease of access.

The Visual Materials subgroup consists of photographs, videotapes, and motion picture films mainly from the period when George Romney served as governor of Michigan (1963-1968), and from his campaigns for governor in 1962, 1964, and 1966, and his campaign for president, 1965-1968. There are a few photos pertaining to his life before 1962 and to his activities after leaving the governorship in 1969. The subgroup also includes materials relating to the life and political activities of Lenore Romney, and to the political activities of Robert Griffin, William Milliken, and other Michigan Republicans. The series in this subgroup are: Photographs, Videotapes, Motion Picture Films, and Filmstrips.

The motion pictures and 2-inch videotape were digitized in 2009 as part of a film and video preservation project. Master beta tapes were created for all title along with DVD and streaming (flash) copies, High resolution digital files (mpeg2) were made for selected titles. Several streaming file are available online, others can be mounted online by request .

The Photographs (4 linear feet) include formal and informal portraits of Romney; four folders of photos of Romney's life before 1962 (including a few photos relating to his work with American Motors and Michigan's Constitutional Convention); a large chronological sequence (1962-1968) combining campaign photos, photos of official activities, and a few personal photos; a sequence of undated photos, also from the 1960s and very similar to the better identified 1962-1968 photos; eight folders of Lenore Romney photos, including family and political photos, but not including any photos of her 1970 campaign for the United States Senate; Romney family photos. Photos not related to Romney include one folder each of Robert Griffin and William Milliken photos (these men also appear with Romney in many of the 1962-1968 photos) and a series of aerial photos of the 25 most dangerous intersections in Michigan. There is also one folder of outsize photographs.

The Two-Inch videotapes consist mainly of campaign commercials and other television spots and appearances by Romney. Among them is the episode of the Lou Gordon program on which Romney made his "brainwashed" comment when discussing his trip to Vietnam.

The Motion Picture Films (8 linear feet) include a wide variety of material, from brief clips to extended footage to finished television programs. The clips, generally a few seconds to a few minutes long, may be the product of WWJ-TV in Detroit. They primarily show Romney or others responding to WWJ reporters' questions. A few of the 1962 clips relate to John Swainson, and not to Romney. Extended footage, from a few minutes to 60 minutes, documents Romney speeches and campaign activities. Some of the footage has been edited, but much of it has not. Finished programs include campaign commercials and local and network news specials on which Romney appears. Collections of 1966 campaign commercials include commercials made for Robert Griffin's United States Senate campaign. "Lenore," a film produced for Lenore Romney's 1970 campaign for the United States Senate, is the only visual record of that campaign in the collection. Programs with no connection to Romney include "The Cobo story: a report to the people of Michigan," from Albert Cobo's 1956 campaign for governor; "Wanted, one million jobs: the story of the unemployed Negro," an October 1962 NBC documentary that highlights the lives of four Detroit workers; "Don't curse the darkness: a look at youth crime in Michigan," probably made in 1964.

The final series consists of a single Filmstrip.

The Romney audiotape collection consists of 759 reel-to-reel and cassette sound tapes made in the period 1952-1969. Included are tapes of Romney speeches, press conferences, and political addresses and meetings. The collection also includes tapes made by the Romney staff of speeches and interviews of other political figures. The bulk of these tapes will be found in Romney's Gubernatorial Series with a smaller quantity (ca. 149 tapes) located in the Pre-Gubernatorial Subgroup.

To facilitate economy in storage, the tapes have been arranged by size and then chronologically. The seven-inch tapes, which comprise the bulk of the collection, include a separate subseries of audiotapes of press conferences. Although the chronological series of audiotapes includes many Romney press conferences, this subseries consists of tapes, many of which cover multiple dates. To avoid confusion in the chronological listing of tapes, therefore, it was decided to maintain these multiple date press conferences as a separate unit. For the researcher interested in listening to a specifically dated Romney press conference, he/she should first consult the chronological listing, then the listing for the multiple-dated press conferences.

The records of Romney Associates concern the activities of the Lansing-based office set up in 1967 to explore the viability of a George Romney candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. The great bulk of the records fall in the period of February 1967 to February 1968. There are of course materials that come on either side of this date, especially before, roughly since 1964.

The records divide into six series, and consist primarily of correspondence and memoranda of Romney and the Romney Associates staff, background for speeches, position papers, strategic analyses, trip files, clippings, and campaign miscellanea. The six series are: State Files, Correspondence, Administrative Files, Topical Files, Clippings, and Miscellaneous and Campaign Paraphernalia. In addition to its value for the study of this phase of George Romney's career, the Romney Associates record group is an excellent source for the study of Republican Party politics in the 1960s, and for an understanding of the issues confronting the nation: Vietnam, racial and civil strife, and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society program.

Much documentation on the Romney campaign will also be found in the files of campaign aides, Walter DeVries and Richard VanDusen, also housed at the library. The researcher should consult the separate inventories to these collections for additional information.

Arranged alphabetically by state, this series includes two types of files: campaign and general. Although this is a distinction made by the Romney staff, similar materials appear in both categories. In sum, though, the campaign file contains more analyses and background research on the various states, while the general files consist mainly of citizen correspondence on the issues of the day and politics. The bulk of both sets of files is correspondence, and the responses to incoming letters are signed by Romney and RA staff members. The fact that some of the letters are signed by Leonard Hall and other members of the Romney-for-President staff indicate that perhaps some of the Washington files were folded into the Lansing office files after the collapse of the Romney candidacy. The great part of these files are, however, from Romney Associates. In addition to files for the individual states, there are also files for the U.S. territories and for U.S. servicemen serving abroad.

This series was originally part of the Romney gubernatorial record group. Because it related so specifically to his bid for the presidency, however, these files were transferred to Romney Associates. Consisting mainly of correspondence, these files were of sufficient importance to Romney that his secretary kept them in the Governor's Office rather than in the RA office. The list of file headings illustrates the prominence of Romney's correspondents in this period: Lucius Clay, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, and other notable personages.

This series, arranged alphabetically, was artificially created from the various and disparate files that came from the Romney Associates office. Somewhat fragmentary and disjointed, the files reflect the fact that several staff members had responsibility for similar office activities. For this reason, it was decided to create a single, alphabetically arranged, administrative series. Of special note here are the staff memoranda (filed under "Issues"; "Memoranda"; "Speech material"; and "Staff Files") that document the background underlying the candidate's public stance on a variety of issues. Also of research interest are the "Trips and appearances" files that detail Romney's travels and his search for delegates.

This series consists of three subseries, each alphabetically arranged: domestic (boxes 61-67), foreign affairs (box 68), and organizations (box 68). Originally the library or pamphlet/clipping file for Romney Associates, this series was trimmed to include only Romney-related items, memoranda, and unique research material. Although the core of this series is clippings, there are also scattered memoranda to which the research should be alerted.