The Lyndon Johnson library website hosts numerous fully transcribed and searchable oral history interviews. Topics span Johnson’s full political career, including his time in the House and Senate, as vice president to John Kennedy and as president. Some interviewees themselves had long political careers as civil servants and elected officials. Therefore, researchers interested in regulatory politics of the entire post-war period should search the LBJ library for relevant content.
Unlike some other presidential library oral history projects (see for example the summary of the Carter library), regulation is not a focal point of the LBJ library interviews. Consequently, relevant discussions are scattered throughout the interviews and are often only incidental to any given interview’s general themes.
Nevertheless, some themes of interest do emerge. Interviews that focus on LBJ’s Congressional career include topics pertaining to energy policy and the challenges and opportunities these posed for Johnson as a delegate from Texas. Oil and gas regulation, particularly pertaining to the 1956 “Bill to Amend the Natural Gas Act,” receive attention for its importance of LBJ’s career trajectory and establishment of his position as a national figure. Great Society and Civil Rights legislation, hallmarks of the LBJ administration, also contained regulatory provisions. The follow is a partial list, roughly in descending order of prevalence, of regulatory topics addressed in the transcribed and searchable LBJ library interviews.
Oil and Natural Gas (Texas Railroad Commission (in the context of energy policy))
Antitrust enforcement though the Justice Department (especially during the Kennedy administration)
Regulation of the outdoor advertising industry
Lobbying by interest groups and influence on regulatory policy making
Kennedy-era attempts to reorganize regulatory agencies
Route assignments by the Civil Aeronautics Board
Regulatory commission appointments
FDA response to the thalidomide tragedy
Interviews pertaining to the institution of Medicare and Medicaid and certain provisions of the Civil Rights Act may also have content pertaining to regulation
This list is not exhaustive. It only reflects topics that emerged in an initial survey. See suggested search strategies for ideas on how to more thoroughly explore this archive’s offerings.
Project description: The FTC catalogues oral histories with eight former commissioners. Only one of these interviews was conducted by the FTC; the rest were conducted for presidential libraries and universities.
Regulatory significance: Some of these interviews deal at length with regulatory issues at the FTC during the commissioners era and beyond—see especially the interview with Mary Gardiner Jones, and to a lesser extent, those with Stephen Spingarn and Lowell B. Mason. Others, such as the interview with Leon Higginbotham, deal mostly with Washington personalities and the longer political biography of the interviewee (particularly in connection with the presidents they served under).
Interview dates: Widely varied
Digital access: Transcripts are available online for interviews with Mary Gardiner Jones (1964-1973); Leon Higginbotham (1962-1964); Stephen Spingarn (1950-1953); Lowell B. Mason (1945-56).
Physical access: Interviews in various repositories, including presidential libraries and Columbia University.
Project description: This collection contains dozens of interviews regarding Marlboro cigarettes, with a heavy focus on how cigarette advertising changed over time both in the U.S. and in other countries. The broad range of interviewees included executives of Philip Morris, advertising agency personnel from Leo Burnett, photographers, production staff, sales and marketing personnel, and Marlboro cowboys.
Regulatory significance: Uncertain, as the interviews are not available online, but this collection likely speaks to health and safety regulation of cigarettes, and particularly cigarette advertising.