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Haldeman Diaries November 2014 Release: Qs & As

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Q. Who was H. R. "Bob" Haldeman?

Harry Robbins "Bob" Haldeman was a long-time aide to Richard Nixon, meeting Nixon during the Eisenhower years, and then serving in campaign capacities. After serving as campaign manager for the 1968 Presidential campaign, Haldeman became Assistant to the President and White House Chief of Staff. He was responsible for running the administrative functions in the White House. As a key figure in the Watergate cover-up, he resigned from the White House on April 30, 1973. He was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in 1975 and served 18 months in prison. He then worked in real estate, published his memoirs, and began to edit his diaries. He died in 1993 shortly before the publishing of his edited diaries.

Q. What are the Haldeman Diaries?

Haldeman kept a personal diary throughout his tenure as personal assistant to President Richard Nixon and White House Chief of Staff. The collection consists of seven bound volumes of handwritten diaries, 36 dictated diaries recorded as sound recordings, and two handwritten audio cassette tape subject logs. The bound volumes cover the dates January 18, 1969 to December 2, 1970. The audiocassettes cover November 30, 1970 to April 30, 1973. The diaries and logs reflect H. R. Haldeman's candid personal record and reflections on events, issues, and people encountered during his service in the Nixon White House.

Q. How did the National Archives acquire the Diaries?

The diaries were filed in Haldeman's Staff Member and Office Files at the White House. They were legally disputed between 1974 and 1980. In the Spring of 1980, Haldeman deeded the diaries to the National Archives with a stipulation of a 10-year seal.

Q. What is the release history of the Haldeman Diaries?

1979 to 1980

  • National Archives Nixon Staff reviewed the diary for national security and privacy information.
  • Staff submitted classified portions to equity agencies.
  • Staff processed agency decisions upon receipt of decisions
  • Staff delivered a sanitized copy of the handwritten and audio diaries to Haldeman between April and November 1980.

1993-1994

  • Haldeman (and then his estate) had an abridged volume of the diaries and complete multimedia version on CD-ROM published.
  • Between July 1993 and July 1994, the Nixon Staff at NARA began processing the diaries for public release.
  • The Handwritten Diaries were opened to the public on May 6, 1994.
  • The Audio Diaries were subsequently released on August 1, 1994.

2010-2014

  • Nixon Library prepared for referral handwritten portions to agencies.
  • Nixon Library prepared audio national security segments for referral to the National Declassification Center [NDC] for systematic declassification review.
  • In June 2013, the audio material returned to the Nixon Library for processing.
  • In the interest of processing declassified returns, the Nixon Library elected to create a digital preservation master of all the audio and prepare for release audio diary entries with revised transcripts reflecting the review decisions.

Q. What is new about this release?

  • This release offers online access to 193 audio diary entries with national security review decisions on 296 segments of which 285 are declassified in full.
  • Newly declassified segments are reintegrated into the audio and transcript for each entry.
  • Archivists reviewed for release 8 privacy segments falling within these 193 entries. 7 of these segments have been released and reintegrated.
  • A newly enhanced collection-level finding aid detailing in-depth the collection and its history.
  • Revised NARA OPA records for the collection and series.
  • Downloadable PDF Index that searches the finding aid and currently available transcripts.
  • Nixonlibrary.gov webpages to display the diaries.

Q. What topics does the release cover?

Newly declassified topics include the Pentagon Papers, Vietnam negotiations, India-Pakistan, Israel, US-Soviet and US-China relations, as well as SALT negotiations, including a 9 minute 24 second entry from May 20, 1971 where Haldeman recounts a Cabinet meeting. Stephen Ambrose and Haldeman commented on this withdrawal in the 1994 published edition of the Diaries.

Q. What about the rest of the diary? How can I view or access it?

  • All other audio can be accessed on the audiocassette copies available in the Yorba Linda Reading Room.
  • A printed transcript of the remainder of the diary (handwritten and audio) is available in the Yorba Linda Reading Room.
  • Photocopies of the available handwritten textual entries are available in the Yorba Linda Reading Room.
  • The complete CD-ROM version of transcripts from 1994 can be searched in the Yorba Linda Reading Room.

Q. What about online access to the rest of the Diary?

The Library will make efforts to provide online or electronic access to all entries over time, as well as address further privacy re-review. Nixon Library webpages reflect the entire diary, so the Library can load further entries and update the index with ease. The Library also plans to make descriptions and contents of the Diaries available in NARA’s Online Public Access (OPA) system.

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