EPA History Program

Collection description: According to EPA Order 1000.27 the “EPA History Program” dated March 1992, the EPA must conduct an Oral History Program. Michael H. Gorn and Dennis Williams served as the first historians of the EPA, and conducted the five oral history interviews with administrators and a deputy administrator.

Regulatory significance: Though few in number, the interviews provide rich details on the early history of the EPA and its structural dynamics. Many interviews include comments on the EPA’s relationship with the White House, Congress, OMB, regulated industries, public interest groups, and state and local government. They also include insightful discussions of regulatory conflicts over pesticides, industry emissions, crises like Love Canal, and scientific determinations.

Dates: 1992 – 1995

Digital access: Only interviews with five former agency heads are available online, with William RuckelshausRussell TrainAlvin AlmWilliam K. Reilly, and Douglas M. Costle.

Chemical Heritage Foundation Oral History Program

Repository description: The Chemical Heritage Foundation has collected over 425 oral history interviews with leading figures in chemistry and related fields at its Center for Oral History. Projects include the chemical history of electronics, the chemical industry, polymers, and women in science.

Regulatory significance: At least one project is explicitly focused on the creation and implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act. A few other interviews appear to speak to public and private regulation of chemicals.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dates: 1981 – Present

Digital access: Most digital transcripts are only available for a $5 fee.

URL: http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/collections/oral-histories/index.aspx

Forest History Society Oral History Collection

Repository description: The Forest History Society’s oral history collection includes over 250 interviews with individuals involved in forest management and timber industries. Interviews were first recorded in the 1940s and the project is on-going.

Regulatory significance: At least 16 of these interviews directly address topics of forestry regulation and the impact of other environmental regulations on the practice of forest management by the Forest Service. The impact of the 1911 Mills Act and the 1960 Multiple-Use Forestry Act receives particular attention in multiple interviews. Other topics include public regulation of privately owned forests, uses of public land and timber, and the effects of the Clean Air Act, the clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species act on the activities of the Forest Service. Also of interest is the process through which interest groups, such as the Sierra Club and Chambers of Commerce participate in the policy making process.

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Dates: 1940s – Present

Digital access: Some transcripts available online, some only summarized, and interview compilations available for purchase

URL:  http://foresthistory.org/Research/ohiguide.html

Washington State Oral History Program

Collection description: The Washington State Legislature maintains an oral history program that collects interviews with influential legislators, from the 1930s onward. Most of the interviews are conducted in a biographically oriented life history style, and are extremely long, running to more than 500 pages as transcripts. Interviewees address their experience in the Washington State Legislature as well as other experiences in the private sector and federal office.

Regulatory significance: These interviews cover a gamut of regulatory issues at the state level, including labor regulation, environmental regulation, and the role of lobbyists.

Location: Washington State Legislature in Olympia, Washington

Dates: 1983 – present

Access: Open to the public

Digital access: Transcripts for all but the most recent interviews are available online, as well as other digital material including photos and biographies.

URL: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/oralhistory/

Interviewees: ~24

Southern Rural Poverty Collection

Project description: This project contains more than 30 interviews with individuals who worked to address southern poverty in their communities up to the early 1990s. The focus of the interviews is on efforts after the passage of major federal civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965, including those related to Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Regulatory significance: Many of the interviewees discuss issues that stem from overlapping regulatory jurisdictions at the local, state, and federal level. Health care, housing, employment, and agriculture are major themes, and some interviewees discuss environmental regulation to improve the health of the rural poor.

RepositoryDuke University, DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy

Interview dates: 1992-1994

Digital access: Video recordings of the oral histories are available for many interviews, and transcripts are available for almost all of them.

Linkhttp://dewitt.sanford.duke.edu/rutherfurd-living-history/southern-rural-poverty-collection/

Benedum and the Oil Industry Project

Project description: A record of the oil industry from 1890 to 1950 as shown in the development of the Benedum oil interests and the experiences of Michael Late Benedum (1869-1959) and his associates, notably Joseph Clifton Trees (1869-1943). The material consists of interviews with people having special knowledge of leasing, financing, geology, oil and gas production, legal and tax problems. The interviews contain several accounts of Benedum and Trees as wildcatters; problems of oil exploration outside the U.S. (Mexico, 1911-1916, Colombia, 1915, Rumania, 1918-1919, the Philippines, 1920, and China, 1936); development of companies and corporate holdings; storage, transportation, marketing, and refining; and conservation and proration practices leading to Interstate Oil Compact Commission, 1933. [Description from finding aid]

Regulatory significance: The project provides a glimpse at the emergence and development of oil industry regulation during the early 20th century. It likely addresses to a limited degree how oil companies navigated uneven regulatory terrain across states in the U.S. and across national boundaries while exploring for oil in Mexico, Colombia, Rumania, the Philippines, and China. Additionally, the collection promises some discussion of standardization and self-regulatory organizations.

Repository: Columbia Center for Oral History

Interview dates: Circa 1951

Digital access: Only abstracts. No online transcripts or audio.

Physical access: For transcripts and audio, researchers may visit the Columbia Center for Oral History.

Linkhttp://oralhistoryportal.cul.columbia.edu/document.php?id=ldpd_4072325

Interviewees: John Charles Adams; William W. Arnold; Darwin Benedum; James Claxton Benedum; Michael Late Benedum; Paul Benedum; Sophie and Pearl Benedum; Charles E. Beyer; Al A. Buchanan; Clem S. Clarke; A.B. Dally, Jr.; Margaret E. Davis; John W. Dieringer; Bascom Giles; William Morris Griffith; Walter Simms Hallanan; Houston Harte; Harry B. Hickman; David Dean Johnson; Caswell S. Jones, Thomas J. Newlin and Alex U. McCandless; William J. Jones; Winchester Kelso; W. B. Lane and Roy Gardner; Charles A. MCClintock; Will E. Odom; Alexander P. Olivey; Foster B. Parriott; Andrew Donaldson Robb; Ovid Daniel Robinson; Frank B. Shepard; Tom Slick; Ernest A. Stiller; Milton E. Witherspoon.

Kaiparowits Power Project

Project description: The Kaiparowits Power Project consists of eleven interviews regarding the proposed construction in 1965 by Southern California Edison Company of a coal-powered generator in southern Utah. After ten years of wangling and opposition from environmental groups and federal regulators, the power company abandoned the project.

Regulatory significance: Federal environmental regulators played a significant role in the demise of the project, and the oral history interviews illuminate how locals in southern Utah viewed the conflict and perceived the involvement of the regulators. Of particular salience in the interviews is the trade-off between environmental health and economic development.

RepositoryCenter for Oral and Public History, California State University – Fullerton

Interview dates: 1976-1978

Digital access: No online availability. Contact repository directly for digital copies.

Linkhttp://coph.fullerton.edu/seUtahKaiparowitsPowerProject.asp

Brea-Olina Community History

Project description: The Bera-Olina Community History project has approximately 50 interviews with residents of the community in southern California. Many interviewees spent their careers in the local oil fields.

Regulatory significance: Four interviews discuss inspections, safety regulations, and local government as it pertained to oil extraction.

Repository: Center for Oral and Public History, California State University – Fullerton

Interview dates: Late 1970s – early 1980s

Digital access: No online availability for transcripts. Online listing includes brief description of each interview.

Link: http://coph.fullerton.edu/breaOlinda.asp

Minnesota Powerline Oral History Project

Project description: These 44 interviews involve people on all sides of a controversy in western Minnesota over the routing of power lines. Per the finding aide, “the controversy escalated as costs of the project rose and additional frustration was created by cumbersome review processes, and by what many protesters saw as excessive concern by the federal and state governments for wildlife areas and highway right of way at the expense of protection for productive farmland.”

Regulatory significance: This project effectively captures a kaleidoscope of views over what tradeoffs regulators should make. Interviewees include politicians, regulators at the Department of Natural Resources, affected farmers, and board members of the electric cooperatives.

RepositoryMinnesota Historical Society

Interview dates: 1977-1979

Digital access: Transcripts and audio are available online.

Physical access: Original audio tapes are kept at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Linkhttp://collections.mnhs.org/voicesofmn/index.php/10002532

Minnesota Environmental Issues Oral History Project

Project description: This project contains more than 30 interviews with a variety of players in Minnesota environmental regulation. They explore issues such as timber wolf preservation, acid rain control, and forest management policies.

Regulatory significance: These interviews involve a wide range of environmental regulation issues, including use of lawsuits, tradeoffs with agricultural production, the involvement of nonprofits like the Nature Conservancy. Most of the interviewees were involved in these issues as activists and members of nonprofit organizations rather than as governmental regulators.

RepositoryMinnesota Historical Society

Interview dates: 1986-1990

Digital access: Transcripts and audio are available online, as well as photos of many of the interviewees.

Physical access: For any interview not available online, visit the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Linkhttp://collections.mnhs.org/voicesofmn/index.php/10002529

Red River Valley Sugarbeet Industry Oral History Project

Project description: This project contains 51 interviews with a variety of players in Minnesota sugarbeet industry. Interviews document the American Crystal Sugar Company’s operations in the Red River Valley farming region of Minnesota and North Dakota and the company buyout by the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. Includes discussion on the sugarbeet industry, including labor, research, and changes in farming methods.

Regulatory significance: Many of the interviews deal with the growers association and its relationship with government regulators, especially attempts to keep a united front. Labor and transportation regulations are also addressed.

RepositoryMinnesota Historical Society

Interview dates: 1987-1990

Digital access: Transcripts and audio are available online, as well as photos of many of the interviewees.

Physical access: Original transcripts and sound cassettes are held by the Northwest Minnesota Historical Center, Moorhead.

Linkhttp://collections.mnhs.org/voicesofmn/index.php/10003897

Mississippi Headwaters Board Oral History Project

Project description: Per the finding aide, the Mississippi Headwaters Board was created to coordinate the identification and protection of the natural, cultural, historical, scientific, and recreational values of the first 400 miles of the Mississippi River. Its work centered on eight counties in north central Minnesota through which this portion of the river flows. The 14 people interviewed discuss their own river-related activities, as well as their observations on changes in recreational, commercial, and residential use of the river and its shoreline. Many of the interviews include comments on water quality, floods, droughts, dam construction, fishing, wildlife, and conservation.

Regulatory significance: Collection deals with many issues of local environmental regulation, including water quality ordinances, and trade-offs with business interests—particularly agriculture and development.

RepositoryMinnesota Historical Society

Interview dates: 1999-2001. Interviews conducted with people associated with the Mississippi River during the period 1910-1960.

Digital access: Transcripts are available online, as well as photos of many of the interviewees.

Physical access: The tapes are held by Mississippi Headwaters Board, Walker, Minnesota.

Linkhttp://collections.mnhs.org/voicesofmn/index.php/10003891

Minneapolis Riverfront Redevelopment Oral History Project

Project description: A series of interviews conducted by journalist Linda Mack with individuals who were influential in the redevelopment of the Mississippi River riverfront in central Minneapolis. The narrators discuss the social, industrial, architectural and political history of the Minneapolis riverfront, the many and often conflicting plans for its redevelopment, and the actions taken to create the successful urban district that exists in 2008-2009. The project includes 26 interviews with 29 people. [Description from the finding aid]

Regulatory significance: Some of the interviews hit at least tangentially on land use and environmental regulation, particularly historic preservation and redevelopment of industrial space.

RepositoryMinnesota Historical Society

Interview dates: 2008-2009

Digital access: Transcripts and some audio are available online.

Physical access: Visit the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Linkhttp://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display.php?irn=10606709

Houston Mayor Bill White Collection

Description: Collection consists of approximately 100 interviews, commissioned by Houston mayor Bill White and conducted circa 2007. Users can browse interviews by subject, and relevant subjects include: community development, conservation of the environment, environment, legislators, oil and gas industry, and politics and government. Historians at the University of Texas, Texas Southern University, and Rice University advised on the project, but many interviews were not conducted by historians but by community volunteers. The focus of the series is on exploring how Houston has changed from the 1950s to the present.

Regulatory significance: These interviews are particularly rich regarding local regulation (including the lack thereof) of urban growth, real estate development, and historic building preservation. Some address the oil industry, environmental regulation, and the relationship between banking and real estate development.

Dates: Most interviews were conducted from 2007-2008

Repository: Houston Library

Digital access: Yes. Video and transcripts available on-line through links in the finding aid.

Physical access: Material housed at the Houston Library.

Notable interviews: On environmental regulation, Terry Hershey; on real estate development and building preservation, Bob Eury, Gerald Hines, George Mitchell, and Betty Chapman; on bank and financial regulation, Marc Shapiro.

Link: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/oralhistory

Library of the U.S. Courts of the Seventh Circuit

Collection description: Oral history interviews with judges of the Seventh Circuit have been conducted by volunteer attorneys since 1984. They focus on the biographies of the interviewed judges.

Regulatory significance: Of the five interviews available online, only a small portion relate to regulation. Prentice Marshall discusses his time as a hearing officer for the Illinois Fair Employment Practices Commission. Allen Sharp briefly discusses an environmental case brought against U.S. Steel.

Location: Seventh Circuit Library Collection, Chicago.

Dates: 1984 – Present

Access: Open to the public

Digital access: Five transcripts are available online, with judges Prentice H. Marshall, James Moran, James Benton Parsons, and Allen Sharp.

URL: http://www.lb7.uscourts.gov/bios.html

Interviewees: at least 31