Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Nixon Tapes

This month the Nixon Library released new Nixon tapes on its first day of federal status (it is now part of NARA). What do these new tapes tell us?
The release was symbolic, coming as it did on the first day of the Library’s new federal status, and it was substantive, as these tapes shed light on issues such as the Vietnam negotiations breakthrough, the Nixon administration’s second term staff reorganization plans, and as the only presidential recordings to preserve the president’s and his closest adviser’s thoughts during a presidential election. Although the release comprises only 11 1/2 hours out of a total of 3,700 hours of Nixon tapes recorded between 1971 and 1973, there are numerous gems for scholars and curious listeners alike.

The article then goes into more depth on some of these topics. The authors also point out that this is just the beginning for Nixon scholars:
We have learned a remarkable amount from such a relatively small release of tapes, and with over 1,000 hours yet to be released, we are bound to learn much more from the Nixon tapes. The symbolic decision of the Nixon Presidential Library to release these additional hours marked a commitment to transparency and a reinvigorated effort to process and make public backlogged materials, a vigor matched only by that of so many researchers still interested—after more than three decades—in eavesdropping on one of our most controversial presidents.

If you had fun on this article, you can also check out this article on the job of the Nixon archivists.

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