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About President Nixon's Taping System

Between February 1971 and July 1973, President Richard Nixon secretly recorded 3,700 hours of his phone calls and meetings across the executive offices. Currently, approximately 2,371 hours of these tapes have been declassified, released, and made available to the public. Neither the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) nor the Nixon Presidential Library have produced official transcriptions or made the complete audio files available online. Instead, they have left this monumental task--a task that NARA once estimated took 100 hours of staff time to transcribe 1 hour of tape--to individual researchers and scholars.

nixontapes.org is the only website dedicated solely to the scholarly production and dissemination of digitized Nixon tape audio and transcripts. We have the most complete digitized tape collection in existence--approximately 2,300 hours spread over 2.5 terabytes of hard drives that contain more than 7,000 audio files.** The few hours of audio that we do not have will require additional troubleshooting, and could not be converted due to more advanced technical difficulties. However, we are working through these final "problem tapes" and will make them available before anyone else does. In addition, as the remaining tapes from January through July 1973 are released by NARA, they will be added here. 

The purpose of this website is to make freely available the best-quality digital audio and selected transcripts to scholars, journalists, and members of the public who are not able to travel to NARA's Archives II facility in College Park, Maryland, or to the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. To aid researchers, we do more than simply post the audio files: we also make available the NARA-created tape logs and time codes, the president's daily diary, and pertinent information about each conversation that makes your listening experience better and the tape collection more accessible.

At great personal expense, with technical assistance by the National Security Archive, we have transferred the audio from analog cassettes to archival quality Digital Audio Tapes (DATs), and finally to uncompressed digital formats, and have posted these files here in easy-to-download formats such as mp3. This multi-year conversion work was completed during Summer 2008. 

In order to ensure the highest level of accuracy, we listen to the best possible quality digital audio and review each transcript posted on this site multiple times. There is no guesswork involved in making accurate transcripts: if there is more than one opinion about something we hear on the tapes, we mark the segment "[unclear]". It is very difficult to render the natural speech found on the tapes; the audio quality ranges from unintelligible to fair. We encourage visitors to this site to listen to the audio while reviewing the transcripts, and we welcome your feedback.

** For example, the Nixon Library notes that conversations recorded in the White House Cabinet Room are "not yet online". However, we have the complete collection of White House Cabinet Room recordings online.

     About nixontapes.org

Editor

Luke A. Nichter is an Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University Central Texas, where he teaches courses in 20th century international history. He received his Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University following positions held in the U.S. House of Representatives, the British House of Commons, and fellowships at the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford.

Luke is currently revising a book manuscript tentatively titled Richard Nixon and Europe: Confrontation and Cooperation, 1969-1975, which is based on multi-archival research in six countries. He has also written a book-length biographies of Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M.Nixon, and George W. Bush. His next book, coauthored with Douglas Brinkley, is about the Nixon tapes and is to be published in 2014 by Harcourt Houghton Mifflin.

Luke is a former founding Executive Producer of C-SPAN's American History TV and his work is periodically featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press. He is also a noted expert on the Nixon tapes as a result of his efforts to digitize the nearly 4,000 hours of recordings which he makes available as a public service at nixontapes.org.

You can find out more information about Luke here: http://lukenichter.com

Photo downloads: jpg (241KB), tiff (6.1MB)

 

Contributors

nixontapes.org has relied on many experts and volunteers since its launch during 2007. There are far too many to mention here, but thanks and appreciation are due to all. This public service would not be possible without you.

Dr. Richard A. Moss and Dr. Anand Toprani provided invaluable assistance from 2007-10, without which this site would not be the same. Rick and Anand were the resident tapes experts at the Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, where they contributed Nixon tapes related material to approximately 25 volumes of the Foreign Relations of the United States series.

The materials on this website were prepared in a private capacity. Views or opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the United States Government.

 

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