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Earl L. Butz papers



Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description


Subject Files and Miscellaneous

Statements and Speeches

Albums and Scrapbooks


Contact us about this collection

Earl L. Butz papers, 1966-1976 | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

By Archives Staff

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Collection Overview

Title: Earl L. Butz papers, 1966-1976Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Butz, Earl L. (Earl Lauer) (1909-2008)

Extent: 28.81 Cubic feet


1.  Correspondence, c. 1971-1976 (8.6 cf)

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, ca. 1966-1976 (7.4 cf)

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, c. 1971-1976 (4 cf)

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, c. 1960s-1976 (8.16 cf)

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, c. 1965-1996 (.65 cf)

Items in this series include several objects from Butz’s life and work including a jacket from time spent at Camp David.

Date Acquired: 06/01/1978. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, Butz, Earl L. (Earl Lauer), 1909-2008., Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006., Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994, Purdue University, Racism in language., Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ), Resignation from office, United States. Department of Agriculture

Forms of Material: Books, Correspondence, Photograph albums

Languages: English


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.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Earl L. Butz papers include documents, photographs, letters, scrapbooks, correspondence, biographical material, speeches, and subject files from 1966-1976, 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, 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. Please see the finding aid for a detailed inventory.

Collection Historical Note

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. Butz died in his sleep at the age of 98 years on February 2, 2008.


Conn, S. 2008, February. Obituary: Earl Butz, 1909-2008. Exponent.

Biographical Note

Dr. Earl L. Butz (1909-2008 ), educator, administrator, and government official was born on July 3, 1909 to Harmon Lee Butz and Ada Tillie Lower in Albion, Indiana.  Dr. Butz graduated from Purdue University in 1932 (B.S., Agriculture) with a major in animal husbandry.  During his undergraduate career at Purdue he served as an editor to the Exponent, and was a member of Iron Key Honor Society and Alpha Gamma Rho (a national agricultural fraternity).  In 1937 he received his PhD from Purdue in Agricultural Economics, and joined the Purdue staff as an agriculture instructor.

During 1943-1944 Dr. Butz was on leave from his University duties and worked in Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. From 1946 to 1954 he was head of the agricultural economics department at Purdue. Butz was Dean of Agriculture from 1957 to 1967. From 1968 to 1971 he was Dean of Continuing Education and President of the Purdue Research Foundation.

During his time at Purdue University he was active in professional, academic, and civic organizations.  These included being president of the Lafayette Kiwanis Club, vice president of the American Farm Economic Association (now called the American Agricultural Economics Association), vice president of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, vice president of the Indiana Academy of Social Sciences, and national president of Alpha Gamma Rho.

In 1954, Dr. Butz was appointed Assistant Secretary of Agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In that same year he was appointed to the chairmanship of the United States delegation to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In 1957 he resigned both offices to become the Dean of Agriculture at Purdue. In 1968 he was promoted to the positions of Dean of Education and vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation.

President Richard M. Nixon appointed Dr. Butz Secretary of Agriculture in 1971.  He continued to serve in that capacity into the President Gerald R. Ford administration (1976).  Dr. Butz was a highly controversial figure throughout his tenure in this position.  He resigned on October 4, 1976, a result of controversy in response to comments he made in public.

Subject/Index Terms

Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity
Butz, Earl L. (Earl Lauer), 1909-2008.
Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006.
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Purdue University
Racism in language.
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )
Resignation from office
United States. Department of Agriculture

Administrative Information

Repository: Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Accruals: The bulk of the collection was donated by Earl L. Butz on June 1, 1978. Additional donation from Earl Butz on July 30, 1987. Some artifacts donated by Martha Graham in January 2007.

Access Restrictions: The majority of this collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Boxes marked "Closed Files" have restricted access due to donor request.

Physical Access Note: Collection is located onsite.

Acquisition Source: Earl L. Butz

Related Materials:

Oral history collections featuring interviews with Earl Butz include: Marshall A. Martin agricultural oral history interviews, 1993

Purdue Office of Publications Oral History Program collection, 1969-1989

A 2007 oral history interview with Earl Butz has been digitized and is available through Purdue's e-Archives.

Preferred Citation: MSF 64, Earl L. Butz papers, 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.

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

Other URL: http://collections.lib.purdue.edu/fa/pdf/msf64_butz.pdf

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence, 1971-1976],
[Series 2: Subject Files and Miscellaneous, c. 1960s-1970s],
[Series 3: Statements and Speeches, 1971-1976],
[Series 4: Albums and Scrapbooks, c. 1960s-1970s],
[Series 5: Artifacts, 1965-1996],