The Final Chapter: Last segment of historic LBJ telephone conversations will be released on December

Dec 03, 2008

FOR RELEASE DECEMBER 3, 2008:

  • Highlights of conversations are now posted: www.lbjlib.utexas.edu
  • Press conference at 9:45 a.m. (CST) Dec. 4th will be webcast live - details are announced.

The Final Chapter:

Last segment of historic LBJ telephone conversations are released.

What: Release of President Lyndon B. Johnson's telephone conversations from May 1968 to January 1969

When: Thursday, December 4, 2008

Where: LBJ Library, 10th floor 2313 Red River St., Austin, Texas

Contact: Anne Wheeler, Communications Director (O) 721-0216 (Cell) 731-2351 anne.wheeler@nara.gov

New Posting - Descriptions of the conversation highlights are now posted on the LBJ Library website, www.lbjlib.utexas.edu. These are written descriptions only.

9:00 a.m. (CST) - For the first time, at 9:00 a.m. (CST) on December 4, the conversation highlights posted on the LBJ Library website, www.lbjlib.utexas.edu, will include MP3s of the conversations which can be played or downloaded. In addition, most highlights will have a high-res photograph of a person related to the conversation. These MP3 audio conversations and photos may be downloaded, are in the public domain, and may be used free of charge.

9:45 a.m. (CST) - There will be a press conference at 9:45 a.m. (CST) on December 4th featuring Luci Baines Johnson, Harry Middleton, Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, Claudia Anderson, and Regina Greenwell. They will be discussing the contents of the conversations, their historical significance, and their relationship to the challenges faced in the transition between two presidents. This press conference will be webcast live on the websites of the LBJ Library and the LBJ School of Public Affairs: www.lbjlib.utexas.edu or www.utexas.edu/lbj/webcasts/.

  • Luci Baines Johnson is the daughter of President and Mrs. Johnson.
  • Harry Middleton is the former Director of the LBJ Library. Working with Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, Middleton made the original decision to release the conversations to the public.
  • Dr. Betty Sue Flowers is the current Director of the LBJ Library.
  • Claudia Anderson, Supervisory Archivist, and Regina Greenwell, Senior Archivist, have worked on the telephone conversations project since the first release in 1993.

The LBJ Library has a fiber uplink studio (VYVX network) available for TV interviews. For radio interviews, there is dialup ISDN service.

The release of the telephone conversations coincides with an LBJ Centennial domestic policy symposium and an LBJ Centennial reunion.

THE LYNDON B. JOHNSON CENTENNIAL SYMPOSIUM

As part of the year-long Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Celebration, The LBJ School of Public Affairs will hold a Symposium on "Policy Challenges for the New President and the LBJ Legacy" on December 4 and 5, at the LBJ Library. This Symposium begins at 11 a.m. (CST) on December 4, with opening remarks by LBJ School Dean James B. Steinberg and the entire two-day Symposium will be webcast live at www.utexas.edu/lbj/webcasts/. For information and to RSVP, www.utexas.edu/lbj/centennialsymposium/.

The Symposium will feature a distinguished line-up of participants, including:

  • The Honorable Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Chairman, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University, former Special Assistant and Senior Domestic Policy Advisor to President Johnson, and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Carter, delivering the Symposium keynote address, "The Johnson Legacy: Lessons for the New President," on December 4, at 6:00 p.m.
  • The Honorable Robert J. Portman, former U.S. Representative (R-OH), and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and U.S. Trade Representative under President George W. Bush (now, of Counsel with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P), delivering the lunch-time address on December 4, at 1:30 p.m.
  • Robert Dallek, American historian and President Johnson biographer, delivering the morning address on December 5, at 8:30 am.
  • James Steinberg, Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, will be introducing and moderating presentations by Califano and Portman.

LBJ REUNION

On the evening of December 4, the LBJ Foundation will host a reunion of former LBJ staff members and friends at the LBJ Library.

Description of Telephone Conversation Highlights - May 1968 to January 1969

At 9:00 a.m. (CST), on December 4, 2008, the Johnson Library will release recordings and transcripts of President Johnson's telephone conversations for May 1968 through January 1969.

1968 was a watershed year in American history, and the final months of President Johnson's administration were filled with turbulence and crises. These events come to life in the recordings of his telephone conversations.

On March 31, 1968, President Johnson had announced to the nation that he would not seek re-election in order to devote his attention to the Vietnam War. His efforts to bring the war to an honorable conclusion dominate his conversations in these final months in office. The Vietnam War takes on even more personal significance for the President when the husbands of both of his daughters go to war. You will hear discussions of the negotiations with the North Vietnamese at the Paris peace talks, the fight within the Democratic Party among the candidates for the presidential nomination, and the decision on October 31, 1968--just days before the presidential election--to end all bombing of North Vietnam. Soon after the bombing halt begins, the Johnson administration discovers efforts by associates of Richard Nixon to influence the South Vietnamese government not to join in the Paris peace talks until after the election.

But other events occur in these months: the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy in June 1968; Chief Justice Earl Warren's intention to resign from the Supreme Court and Johnson's ill-fated nomination of Abe Fortas as his successor; the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968; dissension and rioting at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; and the presidential campaigns of Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and George Wallace.

Following the election of Richard Nixon, conversations turn to the transition of government to the new president and reorganization of the Democratic Party. Johnson resists efforts to impose new federal regulations and to reorganize the Labor Department in the final days of his administration but seeks to have the Senate ratify the Non-Proliferation Treaty which would limit the spread of nuclear weapons. In January 1969, he is consulted about Edward Kennedy's effort to replace Russell Long in the Senate Democratic Party leadership.

There are approximately 42 hours of recorded conversations from May 1968 through January 1969: 3 hours for May, 4 for June, 2 for July, 5 for August, 4 for September, 11 for October, 9 for November, 3 for December and 1 for January 1969. In addition, the Library will also release one conversation from June 1967 which had been dated June 1968 in error. In addition, President Johnson's staff prepared notes of 16 telephone conversations that were not recorded. Detailed information about individual conversations and a list of "Highlights" will be available in the Library's Reading Room and on the Library's website (http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu) on December 3.

With this final release, the archivists at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library will have reviewed and released to the public approximately 642 hours of recordings of President Johnson's telephone conversations.

Researchers may either listen to the recordings in the Reading Room beginning on December 4, or purchase copies of individual compact discs at a cost of $8.00 per disc, plus shipping and handling. The cost of the set of 43 discs (including the June 1967 conversation) is $344.00 plus shipping, handling, and Texas sales tax where applicable. We will also provide a set of copies of those notes of conversations that were not recorded free of charge to anyone who orders the complete set of discs. Orders for complete sets must be placed with the Reading Room Archivist, 512-721-0212, by Tuesday, December 2. Once the limited number of available sets has been sold, orders will be filled once a week as staff time permits. Orders for individual discs will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis after December 4.

President Johnson's staff prepared transcripts of approximately 40% of the recorded conversations in this release. Copies of individual transcripts of those conversations may also be purchased at a cost of $ 0.30 per page by mail or $ 0.20 per page if ordered in the Reading Room. Additionally, complete sets of these transcripts may be purchased for $.20 per page regardless of where they are ordered. The exact page count of a complete set of transcripts will be available on December 3. Researchers should be cautioned that the transcripts are not always reliable and should not be used without checking them against the actual recordings to assure accuracy.