Project description: This program consists of 150 interviews that document the history of the Nevada Test Site during the Cold War. Interviewees include: national laboratory scientists and engineers; support staff; inspectors; AEC/NRC officials; US Department of Energy officials, US Public Health Service officials; and EPA officials.
Regulatory significance: A brief examination of these interviews suggest that some interviews cover environmental and nuclear safety rules and regulations, from lab to federal levels. They possibly cover land use regulation, and jurisdictional questions regarding tribal lands. This is a robust collection, and a broader survey is required to take full stock of its regulatory richness.
Repository: University of Nevada at Las Vegas
Interview dates: 2003 – 2008
Digital access: Full transcripts available online; limited audio and video clips available online.
Project description: This collection chronicles two Kentucky distilleries, Buffalo Trace and Jim Beam, with interviews from family members, employees, and local historians. Topics addressed in the collection include the history and process of bourbon production, governmental regulations of bourbon, the industry’s economic struggles and successes, family involvement in the companies, and the industry’s effect on the community.
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: 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.
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.
Project description: This collection contains dozens of interviews regarding Marlboro cigarettes, with a heavy focus on how cigarette advertising changed over time both in the U.S. and in other countries. The broad range of interviewees included executives of Philip Morris, advertising agency personnel from Leo Burnett, photographers, production staff, sales and marketing personnel, and Marlboro cowboys.
Regulatory significance: Uncertain, as the interviews are not available online, but this collection likely speaks to health and safety regulation of cigarettes, and particularly cigarette advertising.
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.
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.