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How the Taped Conversations are Described

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Notice to Researchers:  The tapes and transcripts contain language that some users might find objectionable.

The Nixon Library does not routinely transcribe White House taped conversations. Some conversations were transcribed by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force (WSPF) or in response to litigation.

The Nixon Library staff prepares Tape Subject Logs and Finding Aids to assist researchers with locating pertinent conversations.

About the White House Tape Subject Logs

The Tape Subject Logs provide a subject outline of the conversations to assist researchers with locating relevant conversations. The Subject Logs enable researchers to search for keywords and/or events.

  • The logs describe the content of each conversation, noting major topics, sub-topics, etc.
  • The logs include activity statements that indicate when people enter and leave a room.

Each log contains:

  • the original Nixon White House tape number
  • the assigned conversation numbers
  • the recording location of the conversation
  • the date and time of each conversation
  • the names of the participants involved in the conversations

In instances when the same conversation is recorded on two different tapes (for example, telephone and room), the logs also contain cross-references noting the tape and conversation number to all corresponding telephone recordings.

About the Transcripts

Some of the Tape Subject Logs include partial transcripts. The transcripts were prepared by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force (WSPF) for use in their investigation and for use in Watergate trials.

A few partial transcripts were created by the former Nixon Presidential Materials Staff in response to court orders.

  • In cases where partial transcripts exist, the tape subject log contains a notation to indicate a transcript has been created for a portion of the conversation.

  • Transcripts are cross-referenced in the Tape Subject Logs.

Accuracy of the Transcripts  [See Also:  Audio Quality of the White House Tapes]

  • As a general policy, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) does not create transcripts of conversations and considers these existing transcripts to be an interpretation of the record rather than the record itself.

  • NARA considers the tapes to be the record and strongly urges users to listen to the tapes to form their own interpretation of the conversations.

  • Variations in sound quality can cause listeners to interpret conversations differently.

  • The transcripts were prepared with great care and substantial effort. Points of ambiguity are inevitable.

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