Project description: The National Institutes of Health have conducted more than 100 interviews, some conducted by the History Associates and some conducted by oral historians on staff at the Office of NIH History.
Regulatory significance: Many of the interviews are highly technical discussions of medical techniques and research, but some of them discuss the evolution of safety regulations for hospitals, medical devices, and diseases like HIV/AIDS.
Interview dates: ~1964-2009
Digital access: Transcripts of many of the interviews are available online.
Physical access: Researchers will need to call or email to make an appointment to visit the Office of NIH History in Bethesda, Maryland.
Collection description: The FDA began its oral history program in the mid 1970s, interviewing staff members towards the end of their careers. Per the oral history program’s description, “Though the program’s early focus was on agency staff directly connected to enforcement work, the History Office today collects oral histories from staff at all levels and across the agency.” More detailed information on the program can be found here.
Regulatory significance: This is a rich collection that explores in great detail the regulatory process from frontline monitoring to higher level rule-making.
Dates: 1974 – present
Digital access: Partial and full transcripts of many of these interviews can be found on the FDA website.
Physical access: Tapes and transcripts of the oral histories are deposited in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine, in Bethesda, Maryland.
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.
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.