Season's Givings: Volunteers Gather Oral History of Nixon Administration

As part of KPCC's "Season's Givings" series, Kitty Felde tells about a group of volunteers who are putting together an oral history project for the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

Kitty Felde: With Season's Givings, I'm Kitty Felde.

Richard Nixon: This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office

Felde: There are a lot of volunteers at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda. Most are docents, the friendly faces who conduct tours.

Timothy Naftali: You have to be of good cheer, you have to be interested in American history, and you have to like people.

Felde: Timothy Naftali is director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. He says there are also about a dozen volunteers, college interns, helping with the library's oral history project.

Naftali: We have the opportunity of doing things that probably should have been done 30 years ago, but there wasn't an official presidential library here. These interns are researching lives of people who were in office before they were born.

Felde: Shawn Hong is one of those interns. He graduates this month with a political science degree from Cal State Fullerton.

Shawn Hong: Nixon has always been an interesting figure to me, and his foreign policy has always been a great deal of interest to me, so I thought this would be a great opportunity come and study the man.

Felde: Hong does research, and logs videotaped interviews, like the one with former White House lawyer Bud Krogh. He was with "The Plumbers," the group ordered to plug leaks from the Nixon White House. Krogh OK'd a break-in, and went to prison for it.

Bud Krogh: So there's no doubt in my mind there was no deal about a pardon at all, because he's asking me what the experience was like, because I think of what he felt he might be facing himself.

Hong: It is a volunteer position, and you're not getting paid, and you do a lot of work. And it might not seem like you're getting the credit right away, but when you look back and you view these oral histories, you get a sense that you are a part of history. You helped capture this story that's never been told. For that, you can't put a price on it.

Felde: If you want to volunteer, just call the Nixon Library.