Prologue Details How NARA Processed Nixon White House Tapes
Press Release · Monday, October 1, 2007
With renewed interest in Richard Nixon following the transfer of his presidential library to the National Archives, Prologue magazine offers readers a look behind one of the most important set of records from the Nixon administration: the 3,700 hours of taped White House conversations.
“There is an immediacy to the tapes; they give the listener a sense of experiencing history as it happens,” writes NARA archivist Samuel W. Rushay, Jr., who worked on the Nixon tapes for 10 years before his recent transfer to the Harry Truman Library. “One becomes a ‘fly on the wall,’ eavesdropping in the White House as decisions are made and history unfolds.”
In “Listening to Nixon,” in the Fall 2007 issue of Prologue, Rushay describes the work of NARA staff at College Park, Maryland, over the years in listening to the conversations and editing out personal material from conversations related to the official duties of the President. He also describes how the taping system operated in the White House from February 1971 to June 1973.
Also, Rushay describes several White House incidents and conversations that are recorded on the tapes, including one with national security adviser Henry Kissinger and others with special visitors to the White House.
The Fall Prologue also recounts the events leading up to the establishment in July of the federally operated Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. In 1974, when Nixon resigned the presidency, Congress acted to keep the records of his presidency under the control of the National Archives. Until this past July, those records remained in College Park, while a private Nixon Library, opened in 1990, held other records and artifacts of Nixon’s career.
Prologue also features a story about a book on another President, Herbert Hoover. Glen Jeansonne, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recalls, in “Herbert Hoover’s Boy Biographer,” an 11-year-old boy who became quite famous for a short time after writing a glowing, self-published biography of the then-embattled 31st President.
Two articles about women in wartime are also included in this issue of Prologue.
Clara Pix Ritter was accused of being a Confederate agent during the Civil War because she picked up somebody’s mail at a New York post office and sent it to another suspected agent for the South, as Lee Gladwin, a staff archivist at NARA, recalls in “Clara Pix Ritter: Confederate Agent.”
In “Wearing Lipstick to War,” James Madison, professor of history at Indiana University in Bloomington, recalls the brief life of Liz Richardson, a Red Cross worker in World War II, through the many letters she wrote home from England and France in an article adapted from a recent book.
For nearly four decades, Prologue has shared with readers the rich resources and programs of the National Archives, its regional archives, and the Presidential libraries.
Each issue features historical articles—drawn from National Archives' holdings and written by noted historians, archivists, and experts—as well as articles explaining and describing many of the National Archives’ activities and programs as the nation’s recordkeeping agency. The Washington Post said, “Prologue . . . can be regarded quite literally as an invitation for further study. It is also consistently absorbing reading.”
A one-year subscription to Prologue costs $20, and you can order in a number of ways:
- Call 202-357-5482 or 1-800-234-8861
- Print out the order form and mail it to Prologue, P.O. Box 100684, Atlanta, GA, 30384.
- Order online at http://estore.archives.gov.
- Fax credit card orders to Prologue at 301-837-0319.
Single copies of Prologue are available at the Archives Shop or at the Cashier's Office in the National Archives Building in Washington or at the Publications Sales Office at the National Archives at College Park. Back issues are also available at the College Park location. Single copies are also available in the shops at some Presidential libraries.
For more information about the National Archives and its programs and exhibits, go to www.archives.gov.
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This page was last reviewed on December 19, 2018.
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