These interviews are most useful for understanding public/private partnerships in utilities markets, especially electrical power and emerging commercial satellite communications. In the realm of environmental regulation, policies under the purview of the Department of Interior such as mining and mine safety, forest management and fire responses, and the use of federal lands and resources to generate and transmit electrical power garner the most attention. Rural electrification and the structure of power “wheeling” agreements in the west receive much discussion.
Researchers interested in the regulation of the communications industries will also find interviews of interest. Some interviews provide extensive discussion of the FCC, the State Department and the development of the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) to provide and regulate multinational commercial satellite communications, as well as the development and regulation of cable television.
Other interviews examine the workings of the Federal Trade Commission and the role of the Council of Economic Advisors is shaping economic policy during the Kennedy Administration.
Project description: This project was established by the Oral History program of North Texas State University in 1966, and it was still ongoing in 1985. The program appears to be discontinued now and the interviews absorbed into the broader UNT oral history program archives.
Regulatory significance: The project interviewed legislators and other state government officials, including regulatory board and commission members. Interviews occurred every two years, at the close of biennial legislative sessions and topics ranged across the spectrum of policy issues encountered during the session. (For a detailed description of project history and methodology, see Ronald E. Marcello, “Interviewing Contemporary Texas Legislators: An Atypical Approach,” The Public Historian 7:4 (Fall 1985): 53-64.)
Project description: These interviews were conducted in 1981 by the official historian of the Soil Conservation Service, Douglas Helms. The interviews were with “long-time employees,” some of which joined the SCS at its inception in 1935. Employees worked across the country, ranging from Oregon to Alabama.
Regulatory significance: Topics include: National Environmental Policy Act, watershed management, the work of the office of the administrator of the Soil Conservation Service, soil classification system, ways of achieving farmer participation in conservation programs, Civilian Conservation Corps, Great Plains Conservation Program, Strip Mine Commission, forest management, and relationships between SCS and Congress and state governments.
Repository: Iowa State University
Interview dates: 1981
Digital access: No online transcripts or audio.
Physical access: For transcripts and audio, visit the special collections department at Iowa State University.
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
Project description: These five interviews on forestry and logging contain material on conservation, woods safety, fire-fighting and the development of protective associations, old Minnesota logging camps, logging methods and machinery, and the development of the Paul Bunyan legends.
Regulatory significance: Difficult to determine, as the abstracts for these interviews are not revealing. It appears that some of them may address issues of forest management and labor regulation.
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.