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Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts

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The Kissinger telcons, released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on May 26, 2004, consist of transcripts of Dr. Kissinger's telephone conversations during his tenure as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (1969-74) and Secretary of State (1973-74) during the administration of President Richard Nixon.  [See Also:  NARA Press Release]

About the Telephone Conversation Transcripts

  • Linear feet of materials:    10 cubic feet
  • Approximate number of pages:    approximately 20,000 pages
  • Spans:    January 21, 1969 - August 8, 1974
  • Released on:    May 26, 2004

These telephone calls took place at various locations, including the:

  • White House
  • Department of State
  • San Clemente
  • Key Biscayne
  • Paris
  • New York
  • Dr. Kissinger's home
  • aboard aircraft

Not all of the conversations in this collection are between Dr. Kissinger and another party. Participants other than Dr. Kissinger include:

  • Alexander M. Haig
  • Brent Scowcroft
  • Col. Richard T. Kennedy
  • Lawrence S. Eagleburger

Series Descriptions  [See Also:  Telcons Series Descriptions]

The telcons are arranged in four series:

  • Chronological file (boxes 1-26)
  • Anatoli Dobrynin file (boxes 27-28)
  • Home file (box 29)
  • Jordan file (box 30)

How to Review  [See Also:  Adobe Acrobat PDFTelcons Finding Aid]

Researchers can:

  1. Review the Adobe Acrobat PDFTelcons Finding Aid on-line.

  2. Contact the Nixon Library to order these files.

  3. Search the Department of State Document Collections – contains a set of Kissinger telcons dating from August 9, 1974, until the end of the Ford Administration in 1977.

The Creation of the Kissinger Telcons

The purpose of the telcons was to follow-up on promises that Dr. Kissinger made and understandings he reached. He also incorporated the conversations into memoranda to the President and to other government officials, memoranda of conversations with people to whom he spoke, and other records. As he stated in a television interview in 2003, Dr. Kissinger believed this process was easier than writing thirty to forty memoranda of conversation per day.

Dr. Kissinger's secretaries transcribed his telephone conversations as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State. The original transcripts were never edited at the time they were typed. Initially, secretaries listened in on calls using a "dead key" extension on the phone system and prepared summaries of conversations. This practice was later refined and resulted in verbatim transcripts transcribed from secretarial shorthand notes. While most of the conversations were recorded by secretaries listening in on "dead keys," many conversations were recorded mechanically with tapes that were immediately transcribed and then destroyed, according to Dr. Kissinger's 1999 letter to the editor of Foreign Affairs. It is not known what became of the secretarial notes upon which the telcons were based. Nor is it known how the conversations were recorded (e.g., what types of machinery and tapes were used, and whether different types of machines were used for different locations). While it is not usually possible to determine which telcons were prepared from secretaries listening in on a "dead key" and which were prepared from tape recordings, some telcons contain a notation such as "(tape)" or "end of tape."

Many telcons contain the initials of the following secretaries, who presumably prepared the transcripts:

MLH – Muriel L. Hartley
LDS – Lora D. Simkus
WGH – Wilma G. Hall
FEG – Florence E. Gwyer
MS – Mary D. Stifflemire
JLJ – Judith L. Johnson
JM – Jane Mossellum
SDD – unknown

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