GORDON E. VANDER TILL PAPERS, (1959-60) 1968-76

Director of Gerald Ford's Grand Rapids Office, 1969-74


Materials relating to both an effort in 1960 to secure the Republican Vice Presidential nomination for Ford and Ford's 1970 and 1972 congressional election campaigns. Also included are records related to the 1968 Nixon campaign activities in Michigan. Among other materials are a few Jack Stiles White House files concerning the book, Portrait of the Assassin, President Ford's papers, a pro-Ford song, and an audio recording of a television program featuring the 1972 Michigan Fifth Congressional District Democratic primary election candidates.

1.0 linear feet (ca. 2,400 pages)

Gordon E. Vander Till (accession numbers 70-NLF-334 and 94-NLF-20) and Joan VanderTill 11-NLF-013 and 12-NLF-037)


Gordon Vander Till has donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Prepared by Helmi Raaska, May 1985; revised by J.P. Schmidt, August 2012
[s:\bin\findaid\vander till, gordon - papers - updated.doc]


First M. Last

1938 - Born, Grand Rapids, MI

1965 - Intern in Gerald Ford's Washington office

1966 - B.A. in political science, Calvin College, Grand Rapids

1967 - M.A. in public administration, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

1969-74 - Director, Gerald Ford's Grand Rapids office

ca. 1975-1991 - Federal Energy Administration

1994 - Government relations, American Red Cross, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2010 - Died, Alpena, MI


The Gordon Vander Till Papers consist of files from Gerald R. Ford's Grand Rapids office. Vander Till was the office director from 1969-74. The initial gift of papers was opened to research in May 1985. An accretion of papers was received and opened in February 1994.

The largest portion of these papers relates to Ford's 1970 and 1972 congressional election campaigns. Correspondence, memoranda, clippings, advertising copy and schedules, financial information, and voter statistics are included. Folders for the 1972 campaign contain such items as a Grand Rapids office staff report on the 1970 election, Ford's voting record on environmental issues, and material from the Republican State Central and National Committees.

A few Jack Stiles White House files are included and contain correspondence and memoranda relating to Portrait of the Assassin and a proposed television docudrama based on the book, President Ford's papers, and a Ford song. Stiles was a Grand Rapids associate of Ford who served as a part-time consultant at the White House from October 1974 until he joined the President Ford Committee staff in September 1975.

The papers received in 1994 were generated by the Ford for Vice President Committee, a Grand Rapids organization formed to promote the selection of Representative Ford as Richard Nixon's running mate in 1960. The committee contacted Michigan delegates to the national convention who in turn contacted delegates from other states in an effort to make Ford better known nationally and to promote him as the vice presidential nominee.

Several items, 1959-74, have been transferred to the audiovisual collection. Among these are phonograph records of a 1959 interview with Gerald Ford and a Ford song; a film, Operation Abolition, ca 1964; a 1974 White House photograph; and ten audiotapes, including one of a 1965 speech by Ford. A more detailed description of these items is in box 2. Numerous photographs from the 1960s that were received with the accretion of papers have also been transferred to the audiovisual department.

Additional accretions to the collection were received in 2011 and 2012, and opened to research in August 2012. These accretions consist of materials related to the 1968 Nixon campaign activities in Michigan, and an assortment of materials primarily related to Gerald Ford’s Grand Rapids congressional district office. These materials include: an audio recording of a television program featuring the 1972 Michigan Fifth Congressional District Democratic primary election candidates; Ralph Nader’s Congress Project assessment of Gerald Ford’s record; opposition and Ford campaign materials; and records relating to Vice President Ford’s homecoming in 1974.

Related Materials (August 2012)
The most significant collections for research on Ford's congressional career are the Ford Congressional Papers, Ford Scrapbooks, and the Robert Hartmann Papers. The Ford Scrapbooks contain material relating specifically to the 1960 effort to secure the vice presidential nomination. A few pages of material on this topic may also be found in Composite General Accessions, Wallace Strobel Papers. Strobel was a Michigan delegate to the Republican National Convention and a Ford supporter. Materials on this topic may also be found in the papers of several Grand Rapids area political figures that are at the Bentley Historical Library.


Box 1 - Subject File

  • Clippings (Miscellaneous), Undated and 1970-71
  • Congressional Campaign, 1970
    Advertising Copy
    Billboard Locations; Print, Radio, and Television Schedules
    Insight, Inc. (Advertising and Public Relations)
    McKee, Jean (Opponent)
  • Congressional Campaign, 1972
    Advertising Copy
    Campaign Information (1) (2)
    Catalogs (Promotional Products)
    Committees and Volunteers
    Headquarters Building
    Mobile Unit
    Print, Radio, and Television Schedules

Box 2 - Subject File

  • Congressional Campaign, 1972
    Tear Sheets
    Voter Statistics
  • Floor Plans for District Office
  • Ford for Vice President Committee, 1960
  • Invitations, 1973-6
  • Press Releases (White House), 10/12-13/73
  • Review of Certain Aspects of the Grand Rapids, Michigan Model Cities Program by the Comptroller General of the U.S.
  • Stiles, Jack - Ford Papers
  • Stiles, Jack - Ford Song
  • Stiles, Jack "Portrait of the Assassin", 1974 75 (1) (2)
  • Zeoli, Billy (1) (3)
  • List of Items Transferred to AV and Museum Collections

Box 3 - Subject File

  • Advertising – Congressman Ford Displays
  • Congressional Newsletter
  • Opposition Advertising
  • Ralph Nader Congress Project
  • Recent Improvements in Your Social Security
  • Richard Nixon – Nixon for President 1968 Michigan Campaign
  • Richard Nixon – Report of the Michigan Nixon for President Committee
  • Vice President Gerald R. Ford
  • WOTV - Second Look Television Program