The White House Central Files
The White House Central Files (WHCF) was a filing and retrieval system shared by President Ford and his staff. It includes many of their communications with each other, federal agencies, Members of Congress, and individuals and institutions across the spectrum of American public and private life. Some routine foreign government correspondence is included as well. A president's WHCF begins the day he takes office and ends the day he leaves (for Ford, August 9, 1974-January 20, 1977).
The Ford Domestic Council and National Security Council staffs also used the WHCF. The latter mostly limited its use to unclassified and "Confidential" (least sensitive) classified material. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and his staff did not use WHCF, nor did the many federal agency personnel who worked in the White House building complex. The Ford WHCF did not use computers except for some correspondence tracking and form letter applications. Thus, it relied heavily on cross-references (annotated and photocopied cover pages) to provide multiple access points to individual documents. The result is a complex system that provides good retrieval accuracy but which can briefly confuse a first-time user.