April 10, 2006 — Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein announced today the designation of presidential historian Timothy Naftali as the first director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. Naftali, who is currently associate professor and director of the Presidential Recordings Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs, will assume his duties on Oct. 16.
In making the announcement, the archivist said, "As the Nixon Library prepares to join the other 11 Presidential libraries that are part of the National Archives system, I am very pleased that Timothy Naftali has agreed to take on this important new position. Professor Naftali’s experience, energy, and vision will invigorate this new national resource and help the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum quickly become a major center for research and learning.
“As the representative of a younger generation of scholars, he will be able to set a new tone for a national center to study the Nixon era. With the eventual transfer of 44 million pages of textual records and the more than 3,000 hours of Presidential tape recordings of the Nixon administration which are currently housed at the National Archives College Park facility, the Nixon library will prove to be a treasure trove for historians and the general public who are interested in the life, legacy and era of President Nixon."
Since 1999, Naftali has directed the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program, where he oversees the team of scholars and staff responsible for transcribing, annotating and interpreting hundreds of telephone conversations and meetings secretly recorded by Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnsonand Nixon in the White House. “I am honored to be entrusted with bringing together the vast historical records of the Nixon administration in Yorba Linda and ensuring that they are open and accessible for current and future generations,” Naftali said.
“We are pleased that the National Archives has looked to the Miller Center for leadership of this important national assignment,” said Gerald L. Baliles, director of the Miller Center and former governor of Virginia. “Tim Naftali’s strong academic credentials, expertise on Cold War issues and guidance of the Presidential Tape Recordings program at the Miller Center provide unquestioned indicators of his energetic leadership of the nation’s newest presidential library. We congratulate Dr. Naftali and wish him well.”
“Tim Naftali has been a great addition to the Miller Center,” said former governor of Virgina A. Linwood Holton Jr., who was instrumental in the founding of the Miller Center. “While we are sad to lose him, we are proud that this brilliant scholar will lead the Nixon Presidential Library when it becomes a part of the National Archives,” he added.
Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor, said “Tim Naftali is an excellent choice to head the Nixon Presidential Library. In my association with Naftali, on the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group and the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, I found him to be an outstanding scholar and an energetic advocate for the people’s right to know. I congratulate Allen Weinstein on his choice.”
For the past six years, Naftali has served as an historical consultant to the Nazi War Crimes and Imperial Japanese Government Records Interagency Working Group, which has been responsible for the declassification of millions of pages of material on Nazi and Japanese war crimes and war criminals. From 2003 to 2004, he served as a contractor to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission). Naftali, who is 44, has also taught history at Yale University and the University of Hawaii.
He is the author of numerous articles and widely read books, including “‘One Hell of a Gamble’: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-1964” (with Aleksandr Fursenko) and “Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism.” Naftali, who has just completed a new history of the Cold War in the Khrushchev years, is currently working on a short biography of George H. W. Bush and on an international study of why and how terrorist organizations stop.
Educated at Yale University and Johns Hopkins University, Naftali received a doctorate in history from Harvard University in 1993.