Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An On-Line Clearinghouse for Oral Histories on the American Regulatory State

About this time last year we noted plans to create an online clearing house of oral histories on the regulatory state at Duke University, under the direction of Edward Balleisen.  I’m happy to report that the Regulatory Oral History Hub (“a gateway to oral histories that shine light on regulatory governance”) is  up and running (and excellent) and that its creators (Professor Balleisen, Elizabeth Brake and Will Goldsmith) invite the comments of readers of Legal History Blog.  As the website explains:
This is an online gateway to oral histories that illuminate various aspects of regulatory governance. Most commonly, this means interviews with regulators, the regulated, or political actors who were instrumental in creating or changing regulatory agencies or frameworks—usually lawyers, judges, and legislators, but also grassroots activists, industry lobbyists, and interested academics.

Paul A. Porter (LC)
This is an invaluable resource.  One series I especially want to flag is the INSPIRE Collection at the University of Maryland, which consists of oral histories conducted in the 1970s by the Institute for Public Interest Representation of the Georgetown University Law Center.  To quote the description: “The collection contains published information and unpublished information on the men and women appointed to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission from 1949 to 1974 including among others, Joseph Califano, Benjamin Hooks, Nicholas Johnson, Newton Minow and Caspar Weinberger.”  My favorite moment comes in an interview of Paul A. Porter (right) when that Washington lawyer referred to the FCC during the Eisenhower years as “the whorehouse regime” and revealed that Arnold, Fortas & Porter considered dropping its communications practice because matters “were not ‘tried’ but ‘arranged’ at the FCC in the fifties.”