Janet L. McCoy


AUBURN -- Twenty hours of oral history interviews with the late Alabama Congressman Bill Nichols have been opened and can be accessed at Auburn University Libraries.

The interviews on Nichols' youth, student days at Auburn, military career during World War II, work in the Alabama Legislature and service in Congress and a 387-page bound transcript were closed following his death in 1988, but were recently made available for research, says university Archivist Dwayne Cox.

Cox says the interviews cover such subjects as Watergate, the Vietnam war, the late Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Alabama politics and the late Auburn football coach Ralph "Shug" Jordan.

"My favorite of the interviews is on how Nichols was wounded during World War II and his long process of recovery," Cox said.

The interviews, which took place over an 18-year period beginning in 1970, were conducted by Cox, retired University Archivist Allen Jones and the late AU history professor Ed Williams.

The oral history is part of a larger collection of Nichols papers, which he began donating to AU in 1966.

Born in 1918 in Sylacauga, Nichols was the son of a vocational agriculture teacher who eventually became principal at Sylacauga High School. He came to Auburn in 1935 on a football scholarship, majored in agriculture and received ROTC artillery training. After earning the bachelor's degree in 1939 and master's degree in 1941, Nichols became an assistant farm agent in Autauga County.

He served in World War II as a gunnery officer in the 45th Field Artillery in Europe and lost a leg to combat.

After the war, he returned to Sylacauga as a salesman. In 1959, he entered politics, winning election as a Democrat to the Alabama House and in 1963 to the Alabama Senate.

Three years later, Nichols won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which he held until his death in 1988. He served on AU's Board of Trustees from 1968 until his death.

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CONTACT: Cox, 334/844- 1705.