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Earl L. Butz papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 64

Scope and Contents

The Earl L. Butz papers include documents, photographs, letters, scrapbooks, correspondence, biographical material, speeches, newspaper clippings, publications, and subject files from 1945 to 2004, with the bulk of the material dating from Butz’s tenure as Secretary of Agriculture from 1971 to 1976. Although some personal materials are included, the bulk of the papers are professional in nature. Major subjects in the papers include domestic and international agricultural and food policies, the environment, international economic policy, farming and food policies, energy, natural resources, timber, Purdue University, and the Republican Party. Files on Butz's various travels around the globe to countries and regions including the Soviet Union, Asia, Mexico, and the Middle East are also included.


  • 1945-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1971-1976


Access Information

The majority of this collection is open for research. Boxes marked "Closed Files" have restricted access.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright held by Purdue University or original creator. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Earl Lauer Butz was born in Albion, Indiana. He received a BS in Agriculture in 1932 and his Doctorate in Agricultural Economics in 1937, both from Purdue University. After receiving his PhD, Butz taught in Purdue’s Department of Agriculture. From 1946 to 1954 he was head of the Department of Agricultural Economics. He later served as Dean of Agriculture from 1957 to 1967, and as Dean of Continuing Education and President of the Purdue Research Foundation from 1968 to 1971. Butz held two cabinet-level positions in the federal government. In 1954, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Agriculture in the administration of President Eisenhower, a position he gave up while serving as Dean at Purdue. In 1971, he was appointed Secretary of Agriculture by President Nixon. He continued in that post following Nixon’s resignation from office, serving under President Ford until 1976. Butz resigned from his position that year due to controversial remarks made to Rolling Stone magazine.


29.06 Cubic Feet


Documents, photographs, letters, scrapbooks, correspondence, biographical material, speeches, artifacts, and subject files documenting the career of Earl L. Butz as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1971-1976.


The collection is arranged into six series:
  1. Correspondence. This series includes a range of both personal and professional correspondence materials from 1971-1976 including thank-you letters, letters of congratulations, topical correspondence with colleagues, and memos. Also included is one box of letters sent to Earl Butz in response to his resignation as Secretary of Agriculture in 1976.
  2. Subject Files and Miscellaneous Papers. This series is primarily comprised of subject files related to Butz’s work as Secretary of Agriculture, political activities and the Republican Party, and some family or personal materials. Types of materials in these files include brochures, clippings, correspondence, reports, and photographs. A number of materials formally document Butz’s daily activities as secretary, including appointment books and telephone logs. Two boxes contain materials related to Butz’s travels as Secretary, including itineraries, background materials on various countries, and correspondence pertaining to a visit.
  3. Statements and Speeches. This series includes collections of Butz’s public speeches made as Secretary of Agriculture. The speeches are organized chronologically in binders, and each binder includes an index of speeches by date. Copies of the speeches sometimes include handwritten revisions, annotations, and marginalia.
  4. Albums and Scrapbooks. This series includes a number of scrapbooks and photo albums pertaining to Butz’s career. Types of materials represented are news clippings reporting on Butz’s professional activities, photographs from his travels as Secretary, and clippings on general political events and issues throughout the 1960s and ‘70s.
  5. Artifacts. Items in this series include several objects from Butz’s life and work including a jacket from time spent at Camp David.
  6. Newspaper Clippings. Items in this series include several local newspaper clippings and publications commemorating Earl L. Butz’s time at Purdue and as the US Secretary of Agriculture.

Acquisition Information

Materials were donated by Earl L. Butz on 1978-06-01. Additional donation from Earl L. Butz on 1987-06-30 and Martha Graham in 2007-01.

Related Materials

Related collections include:
  1. MSO 3, Marshall A. Martin agricultural oral history interviews, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries
  2. MSO 2, Purdue Office of Publications Oral History Program collection, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries
  3. MSO 1, Purdue Archives and Special Collections Oral History Program collection, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in polyester sleeves, acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes. All newsprint has been photocopied and in most cases original newspaper clippings have been discarded.
Earl L. Butz papers
In Progress
Archives Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Edition statement
Third edition. Collection description was first completed on 2009-07-06.

Revision Statements

  • 2016-08: An earlier box-numbering system was replaced and the collection consolidated and organized into series. An index of old and new box numbers is available for reference. Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 W. State Street
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States