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: Thirty two interviews with farmers in Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee, focused on occupational health concerns. Topics include chemical use, work-place accidents, and availability of medical care in rural areas.
Project description: This is the catch all for interviews housed at the Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) at UC – Berkeley related to Ronald Reagan’s gubernatorial administration from 1967 – 1975. ROHO also lists relevant interviews housed at other California repositories.
Regulatory significance: Interviews cover a variety of regulatory topics, including consumer affairs, financial regulation, health care, and farm labor conditions.
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.
Project description: The project involved 35 interviews with Minnesota psychiatrists. Per the finding aide, the interviews begin with recollections of the 1940s and 1950s and trace the progress of medicines, the perception of mental illness, and practice of psychiatrists in rural and urban Minnesota.
Regulatory significance: Many of the interviewees played key roles in the Minnesota Psychiatric Association and the Minnesota Medical Association, and the collection speaks to regulatory issues of professional legitimization through licensing practices and self-regulatory organizations.
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.
Project description: This collection of 17 interviews focuses on the growth of the medical device industry in Minnesota.
Regulatory significance: Many of these interviews discuss regulation of the medical device industry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Discussions also involve liability, non-U.S. regulation in Europe and South America, and the role of trade groups and state support for the industry.