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.
The website of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, is an access portal for oral histories of the administration that are available through multiple institutions, primarily the Eisenhower Library, the Columbia University Oral History Project, as well as other libraries with smaller collections. The library website provides detailed abstracts of linked interviews, but in most cases researchers must visit the repositories to access transcripts for audio files. (A limited number of transcripts are available online.) The full list of interviews is available at the Eisenhower library’s oral history page.
An initial survey reveals nineteen interviews with abstracts or transcripts available through the Eisenhower library that contain significant content pertaining to regulatory issues. These interviews provide a window on the evolution of the post-war American regulatory state, with particular attention to global contexts, including the Cold War, the Korean war, the development of the European Common Market, and advancements in and proliferation of nuclear energy technologies and weapons. The Atomic Energy Commission, the Federal Reserve, and the agricultural commodities trade (esp. sugar) receive particular attention in these geopolitical contexts. Domestically, post-war economic growth fostered renewed political debate over the federal government’s role in the economy and the continued utility of regulatory policies first instituted during the New Deal. Several interviews discuss the establishment of the Federal Aviation Agency (precursor to the Federal Aviation Administration) and the growth of the airline industry. Changes to the policy structures for the regulation of agricultural commodities are also a prominent themes. Many interviews cover issues related to U.S. fiscal and economic policies and regulations. Several discuss the activities and internal politics of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors. Others discuss appointments, staffing, and regulatory actions by the Securities and Exchange commission and enforcement of anti-trust policy by the Justice Department.
Project description: This collection consists of 179 interviews transcribed and indexed interviews recorded with participants in the Texas oil industry. The finding aid characterizes interviewees as “roughnecks, drillers, promoters, financiers, contractors, leasemen and law officers.”
Regulatory significance: Difficult to assess given that the collection is not available online. If you are familiar with this collection, please contact us with more information.
Physical access: For access to interview materials, visit the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. Finding aid says that audio recording is by appointment only at archive, but seems likely from description of project that transcripts are available.