Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 386


Robert L. Nelson was born August 10, 1931 in Dover, New Hampshire to Albert and Alice Nelson. He grew up in Dover, and spent his summers in South Freeport, Maine where his mother was born. He attended MCI prep school for one year, then went on to Bates College. After two years at Bates, the Korean War began and Robert spent two years in the army. He then returned to Bates and graduated in 1956. He attended Georgetown Law School, and worked at the Library of Congress. Just before graduating he began working on the Commission on Civil Rights. He continued this work after law school, working on the commission for a total of five years. He then became the special assistant to the head of the African Bureau and was soon moved into the Aide Bureau. He spent six weeks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When he returned he was offered the position of the program secretary in the mission in Brazil and returned to Rio. He stayed there with his wife for two years. He then returned to the U.S. and took over as the executive director of the lawyers committee for Civil Rights. He assisted in forming the Muskie Election Committee, and after working on the Muskie campaign he went to work for Joe Albritton, as vice president of his holding company. He also worked for the Washington Star, and was assistant secretary of the Army.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: family background; Dover, New Hampshire community; Bates College, class of 1956; serving in Korea; John Donovan; meeting Muskie; Georgetown Law School; Cultural Heritage course at Bates; marriage; working on the Commission on Civil Rights; working in Brazil; working on the lawyers committee for Civil Rights; joining the Muskie Election Committee; Ted Sorenson; Berl Bernhard; Bobby Kennedy; Don Nicoll; beginning the campaign; Ed Pizek; Sumner Redstone; campaigning; planning Muskie’s trip to Israel; evolution of the campaign; George Mitchell; elections; Passamaquoddy Project; Jimmy Carter; George Mitchell; Muskie’s personal life; turning point in the Muskie presidential campaign of 1972; Washington Star; campaign financing; and his time in the Army.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.