Jimmy Carter Library

The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum website hosts an inventory of oral histories created by multiple research projects, and housed in several repositories, pertaining to the Carter Administration and Carter’s post-presidential diplomatic and humanitarian career. Selected interviews have transcripts available online.  The Carter Library’s full inventory of oral histories is available at their website.

A sampling of transcribed interviews identified materials from the Carter Library’s “Exit Interview Project” and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center “Carter Project” (also cataloged at the Carter library) containing significant content of interest to scholars of regulation. These interviews are especially useful for those interested in deregulation and in consumer protection.

National Archives personnel conducted exit interviews with Carter Administration staffers at all levels as they completed their terms in office. The bulk of these interviews occurred during and immediately following the transition between the Carter and Regan administrations. They focus primarily on administrative and legislative process, although they do offer some assessments of the administration’s overall accomplishments. The Miller Center’s interviews took place in the 1980s, and interviewees were high-ranking officials rather than lower-level staffers. These interviews focus on assessments of the administration’s work as well as economic and ideological approaches to regulatory policy.

Interviews pertaining to deregulation cover legislative and administrative processes during the Carter Administration as well as the political and ideological impetus behind the deregulation movement that characterized Carter’s legislative agenda. Topics include the deregulation of the trucking and airline industries.  Interviews, especially those from the Exit Interview collection, place heavy emphasis on the actions of the White House’s Office of Domestic Policy in achieving deregulatory goals. The details surrounding the passage of legislation deregulating the trucking and airline industries receive particular attention.

The Cater years also saw the defeat of a bill that would have created a cabinet-level consumer protection agency within the federal government. Interviews with officials associated with the Office of Consumer Affairs detail the failed attempt to pass the Consumer Protection Act, including negotiations with Congress, the degree to which the Carter Administration supported the bill. Also of interest are interviews that detail the administrative efforts of the Office of Consumer Affairs staff to increase the office’s standing to weigh in on behalf of consumers in the regulatory policy development of other agencies.

Other topics, which received less coverage, include the accident at Three Mile Island, the EPA, FDA, and OSHA.

Suggested Keywords:  Deregulation; Domestic Policy Office; ICC; FCC; Consumer Protection Act; Office of Consumer Affairs; Three Mile Island; NRC; EPA; Clean Air Act; Federal Energy Administration; OSHA

Summary by:  Elizabeth Brake

Dwight Eisenhower Library

The website of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, is an access portal for oral histories of the administration that are available through multiple institutions, primarily the Eisenhower Library, the Columbia University Oral History Project, as well as other libraries with smaller collections. The library website provides detailed abstracts of linked interviews, but in most cases researchers must visit the repositories to access transcripts for audio files. (A limited number of transcripts are available online.) The full list of interviews is available at the Eisenhower library’s oral history page.

An initial survey reveals nineteen interviews with abstracts or transcripts available through the Eisenhower library that contain significant content pertaining to regulatory issues. These interviews provide a window on the evolution of the post-war American regulatory state, with particular attention to global contexts, including the Cold War, the Korean war, the development of the European Common Market, and advancements in and proliferation of nuclear energy technologies and weapons. The Atomic Energy Commission, the Federal Reserve, and the agricultural commodities trade (esp. sugar) receive particular attention in these geopolitical contexts. Domestically, post-war economic growth fostered renewed political debate over the federal government’s role in the economy and the continued utility of regulatory policies first instituted during the New Deal. Several interviews discuss the establishment of the Federal Aviation Agency (precursor to the Federal Aviation Administration) and the growth of the airline industry. Changes to the policy structures for the regulation of agricultural commodities are also a prominent themes. Many interviews cover issues related to  U.S. fiscal and economic policies and regulations. Several discuss the activities and internal politics of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors. Others discuss appointments, staffing, and regulatory actions by the Securities and Exchange commission and enforcement of anti-trust policy by the Justice Department.

Summary by:  Elizabeth Brake

University of North Texas Legislative Project

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.)

Repository: University of North Texas

Interview dates: 1966 ~ 1990

Digital access: No online access. The UNT interview guide (linked below) has abstracts of archived interviews, including those produced though the Legislative Project.

Physical access: For access to transcripts, visit the Wills Library at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.

Link: There is no dedicated link to this project, but see this pdf oral history guide for information that includes these interviews.

Nevada Test Site Oral History Project

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.

Link: http://digital.library.unlv.edu/ntsohp/

Eisenhower Administration Project

Project description: This project includes more than 350 oral histories from those who played major roles in the Eisenhower Administration (1953-1961), as well as the recollections of observers and of those knowledgeable about special aspects. In addition to General Dwight D. Eisenhower and members of his family, the list of participants below includes members of the White House staff, cabinet members, political advisers, members of Congress, administrators, scientists, journalists, ambassadors, military and civilian specialists, and others in a position to testify about trends and events of the period. In addition to memoirs done under Columbia’s aegis, the series includes twelve donated by Professor Herbert S. Parmet and sixty-eight acquired from the Eisenhower Library through an exchange agreement whereby both institutions share oral history transcripts about Eisenhower, his family, career and administration, under identical restrictions. [Description from finding aid]

Regulatory significance: Numerous interviews involve significant discussions of federal regulatory agencies and Eisenhower policies related to banking, agriculture, budgeting, and nuclear energy.

RepositoryColumbia Center for Oral History

Interview dates: 1962-1972

Digital access: Only abstracts. No online transcripts or audio at Columbia, but check the Eisenhower presidential library for specific interviews.

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