This is an online gateway to oral histories that illuminate various aspects of regulatory governance. Most commonly, this means interviews with regulators, the regulated, or political actors who were instrumental in creating or changing regulatory agencies or frameworks—usually lawyers, judges, and legislators, but also grassroots activists, industry lobbyists, and interested academics.

Regulation lies at the heart of day-to-day modern governance. Too humdrum and technocratic to draw sustained public attention, the topic of regulation nevertheless flashes to the fore virtually anytime disaster strikes as pundits and politicians critique regulatory shortcomings or offer regulatory solutions. In the United States in particular, debates about regulation also center on special interest “capture” and whether there is too much of it or too little. Yet all too rarely do politicians, journalists, or academics crack open the regulatory black box to expose the construction and operation of regulatory bodies and make comprehensible the processes of rule-making, monitoring, and enforcement.

This project helps make relevant oral histories accessible to scholars, students, and policymakers in an effort to break open that regulatory black box. We are working to catalog and tag the most relevant oral history collections to sort through what interviews have been conducted and draw out the oral history work that remains to be done.

This project was conceived by Edward J. Balleisen, associate professor of history at Duke University. Elizabeth Brake and Will Goldsmith conducted an initial inventory of oral history collections related to regulatory governance.

If you know of relevant collections that you do not find catalogued on this site, please contact us at regulatory.oralhistory@duke.edu.