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Posted 01.05.07

 
 
   

MU Launches Online Catalog of Watergate Artifacts and Documents

COLUMBIA, MO - As the nation mourned the death of President Gerald Ford, events surrounding one of the most memorable events in U.S. history, the Watergate Scandal, again made news. Days prior to the 38th President's death, the University of Missouri-Columbia launched an online catalog that provides detailed search information about numerous artifacts and documents from the Watergate hearings.

Preserved at the University Archives of the MU Libraries are nearly 140,000 papers, photographs and various other documents belonging to Donald G. Sanders, who served as Deputy Minority Council for the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities during Watergate. Sanders asked arguably the most important question of the investigation: Is there any kind of recording system in the White House? The answer set in motion President Richard M. Nixon's resignation.

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Michael Holland, head of special collections, archives and rare books at the libraries, called the collection a treasure trove of information that provides insights into how federal investigators conducted their work.

"The information gives us an in-depth look at legal strategies that lead to federal prosecutions and how to go from one lead to another," Holland said. "You see how Sanders was thinking."

During his career, Sanders worked as special agent, investigator, legal counsel and administrator for the U.S. government and commissioner for Boone County after returning from Washington. He earned a law degree in 1954 and master's degree in history in 1991 from MU.

Page from the Sanders Planner. Click for a hi-res version.In addition to the Watergate documents, the collection includes correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, notes, reports, publications and supporting material from Sanders' associations with the FBI, House Committee on Internal Security, Atomic Energy Commission, the Department of Defense, Senate Select Committee on Ethics and Boone County Commission. Holland said it took more than two years to catalog the information.

He said among the more interesting items in the collection is a small pocket planner that appears meaningless at first glance. However, it contains the original notation for the July 13, 1973 meeting when Sanders asked the pivotal Watergate question. (Click the image for an enlargement.)

"It looks very unimportant," Holland said. "It's amazing that for its plainness, it doesn't give you the impression that what's inside changed American government."

Also included in the collection is a letter from Sanders to Ford following Ford's loss to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election. Sanders' widow, Dolores Mead, donated the materials to MU in 2004.

The artifacts and documents are available for study at the archives of the MU Libraries, and the online catalog can be accessed at: http://muarchives.missouri.edu/c-rg22-s41.html.

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