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William Cowell, Jr.

William Cowell, Jr.

As an Audiovisual Preservation Specialist on the Nixon Presidential Materials Staff, the most interesting part of my job is processing the Nixon White House Tapes for public release and upgrading the audio level, as the original tapes were made with poor quality equipment.

This tape collection is a National Treasure, covering February 1971 to July 1973, a tumultuous period in American History.

I am in effect an observer of conversations ranging from Nixon's trip to open relations with China, his visit to the Soviet Union, efforts to end the Vietnam War, and coping with America's social unrest of this era.

Another great aspect of my job is the chance to meet persons of historical importance who most people only read about, such as Nixon Administration figures like John Dean, Counsel to President Nixon; and Alexander Butterfield, Deputy Assistant; as well as eminent historians.

I began working for the National Archives in August 1996 as an Archives Technician. As I gained new skills and knowledge in audio and video preservation, my position was upgraded to more accurately reflect my duties. As I continued to acquire specialized knowledge, I was qualified to apply for and be promoted to my current position.

Holding a Baccalaureate Degree in Political Science with a minor in American History and spending 30 years in the U.S. Army in Military Intelligence taught me to be careful about facts and the details of preserving and reporting information. This parallels employment at the National Archives, where we are charged with preserving information and insuring that all of the facts (essential evidence) are available (reported) to the public.

My National Archives colleagues on the Nixon Presidential Materials Staff are consummate professionals. They are equally concerned with the protection of the unique and priceless material and the necessity of making this material available to the public.