IEEE History Center Oral History Program

Repository description: The IEEE Global History Network has collected almost 500 oral history interviews, principally with electrical engineers.

Regulatory significance: A private organization, IEEE is one of the most significant standard setting bodies for electrical technology in the world. Most of the oral histories focus on the development of computers and other highly technical electrical innovations, but some projects will be of particular interest to researchers interested in private regulation and standard setting. Many of these also discuss government’s role in influencing these standards. Relevant projects include interviews with past presidents, discussion of the merger of AIEE and IRE to form the IEEE in 1963, and dozens of interviews focused on standardization.

Dates: Late 1960s – present

Digital access: Selections, if not full transcripts, of most interviews are available online.

Physical access: Researchers should contact the IEEE History Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey.


Containerization Oral History Collection

Project description: This project involved about a dozen interviewees involved in the process of containerization: standardizing shipping crates to fit a variety of transportation methods and pack in more efficient ways. Interviews were conducted by Arthur Donovan, who wrote a book on the subject.

Regulatory significance: Uncertain, as the interviews are not available online, but this collection likely speaks to standard setting in both public and private contexts. Container disparities in size, shape, and material have been considered a non-tariff barrier to trade, and the process of standardizing containers facilitated globalization.

RepositoryNational Museum of American History

Interview dates: 1995-1998

Digital access: No online access.

Physical access: Holdings are available to researchers at the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History, in Washington, DC.

LinkURL for catalog description

Computer Oral History Collection

Project description: This project began in 1967 with the main objective to collect, document, house, and make available for research source material surrounding the development of the computer. The project collected taped oral interviews with individuals who figured prominently in developing or advancing the computer field.

Regulatory significance: At least some interviews speak to issues of private regulatory processes related to standardization of computer language, hardware, etc. A fuller survey of this collection is needed to assess the degree to which it addresses governmental regulation of the computer industry.

RepositoryNational Museum of American History

Interview dates: 1969-1973, 1977

Digital access: Dozens of online transcripts are available.

Physical access: Holdings are available to researchers at the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History, in Washington, DC.


Benedum and the Oil Industry Project

Project description: A record of the oil industry from 1890 to 1950 as shown in the development of the Benedum oil interests and the experiences of Michael Late Benedum (1869-1959) and his associates, notably Joseph Clifton Trees (1869-1943). The material consists of interviews with people having special knowledge of leasing, financing, geology, oil and gas production, legal and tax problems. The interviews contain several accounts of Benedum and Trees as wildcatters; problems of oil exploration outside the U.S. (Mexico, 1911-1916, Colombia, 1915, Rumania, 1918-1919, the Philippines, 1920, and China, 1936); development of companies and corporate holdings; storage, transportation, marketing, and refining; and conservation and proration practices leading to Interstate Oil Compact Commission, 1933. [Description from finding aid]

Regulatory significance: The project provides a glimpse at the emergence and development of oil industry regulation during the early 20th century. It likely addresses to a limited degree how oil companies navigated uneven regulatory terrain across states in the U.S. and across national boundaries while exploring for oil in Mexico, Colombia, Rumania, the Philippines, and China. Additionally, the collection promises some discussion of standardization and self-regulatory organizations.

Repository: Columbia Center for Oral History

Interview dates: Circa 1951

Digital access: Only abstracts. No online transcripts or audio.

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


Interviewees: John Charles Adams; William W. Arnold; Darwin Benedum; James Claxton Benedum; Michael Late Benedum; Paul Benedum; Sophie and Pearl Benedum; Charles E. Beyer; Al A. Buchanan; Clem S. Clarke; A.B. Dally, Jr.; Margaret E. Davis; John W. Dieringer; Bascom Giles; William Morris Griffith; Walter Simms Hallanan; Houston Harte; Harry B. Hickman; David Dean Johnson; Caswell S. Jones, Thomas J. Newlin and Alex U. McCandless; William J. Jones; Winchester Kelso; W. B. Lane and Roy Gardner; Charles A. MCClintock; Will E. Odom; Alexander P. Olivey; Foster B. Parriott; Andrew Donaldson Robb; Ovid Daniel Robinson; Frank B. Shepard; Tom Slick; Ernest A. Stiller; Milton E. Witherspoon.

Texas Cotton Farmers

Project description: This project includes fourteen interviews with cotton farmers in central Texas. The primary focus is on technological change, industry organization, and global markets for cotton. Most interviewees discuss their family history and how they came to cotton farming before delving into specifics of farming and the cotton business.

Regulatory significance: Some interviews include discussion of cotton allotments, subsidy payments, farmer cooperatives, and international standard setting for cotton grades by industry organizations.

Repository: The Institute for Oral History at Baylor University

Interview dates: 2006-2007

Digital access: These interviews have digital transcripts available online.  (Two of the fourteen are not yet digitized.)

Physical access: For audio, researchers may visit the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University.