About Johnson's Secret White House Tapes

About Johnson's Secret White House Tapes

Between 1963 and 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson secretly recorded roughly 800 hours of conversations. The collection primarily consists of telephone recordings that Johnson made during his time in office. In 1968, Johnson began recording meeting conversations.

General guidelines for using the Johnson tapes

  • The original Lyndon Johnson recordings followed a consistent but somewhat esoteric naming scheme for the recordings (e.g. wh6402-02-1128). Because of this, it may be most useful to search by topic or browse by date or conversation title.  

Browsing or searching the Johnson tapes

  • All available recordings for all six presidents who secretly recorded conversations are available on the Research the Tapes landing page. The collection of recordings across all six presidents includes more than 30,000 unique recordings. 
  • Using the "Filter" tool, you can limit your search or browsing to one or more presidents.
  • The Johnson tapes will display in chronological order.
  • Almost all of Johnson pre-1968 recordings are telephone recordings. Generally speaking, the titles will list the person Johnson was speaking with and the date of the phone call (e.g. Conversation with RICHARD RUSSELL, January 2, 1964).
  • Each recording has a set of metadata associated with it to allow for searching. The metadata for Johnson includes: date, participants, description, keywords, and original recording number. Only researchers familiar with the recordings will likely know the original recording number.
  • We use organic search for the Secret White House Recordings allowing users to use multiple terms in a single data string. So, for example, if you were interested in finding recordings involving Robert McNamara about Vietnam in 1963 you would simply enter: "McNamara Vietnam 1963" into the search box to surface the relevant recordings. Do not use boolean terms such as "and" or "or."