Government Takes On Oversight of Nixon Library

Nixon

hide captionPresident Nixon "works the crowd" at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., in November 1973.

Nixon Library and Museum

View from Nixon's Alma Mater

Sharon Herzberger, president of Whittier College, discusses the school's handling of Nixon's legacy.

A bit of national history occurred Wednesday morning when 11 1/2 hours of previously unreleased tapes from Richard Nixon's presidential years were released to the public.

The release was part of a change in oversight for the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Previously run by the Nixon Foundation, which was made up of Nixon family and friends, the library now falls under the domain of the National Archives.

The Nixon tapes are now being made available free of charge on the Internet, after years of delays and arguments between the Nixon Foundation and independent scholars, journalists and other interested parties.

Though the recordings' quality is compromised by background noise and room echo, careful listeners will hear history being made between the boring details of daily office administration. One minute, Nixon is consulting with his staff members on how long he's going to sit in a meeting. Next, he's conferring with aides on which Cabinet members he's going to fire in a massive reshuffling.

Library director Tim Naftali is very happy to have the tapes and documents (in PDF format) available online for free. "They should be," he says simply. "The American people paid for these tapes. They — we — own them."

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