Miller Center releases Clinton Project interviews

Oral history of Clinton's term recorded over a decade

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The Miller Center released recordings of an oral history of the Clinton years.

Jenna Truong | Cavalier Daily

The Miller Center released the first installment of interviews for the Clinton Presidential History Project Friday at the conclusion of a symposium marking the 10th anniversary of the Clinton Presidential Center.

Forty-seven interview transcripts are now available on the Miller Center website as well as at the Clinton Library, the Clinton Foundation and the Pryor Center.

“The Miller Center conducts presidential oral history interviews on the premise that there is much to be learned about each presidential administration by speaking with those who experienced it,” said Riley.

The Miller Center, along with the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, launched the Clinton Project in 2001. The project includes interviews with more than 70 individuals, including senior members of the White House staff, prominent cabinet officers, campaign and political advisors, and several foreign leaders with whom Clinton worked closely with while in office.

The project offers the public new insight into the presidency, as official paper records take decades to be released by historians and often circumvent a number of issues known to be contentious. These interviews help to fill an important void, said Russell L. Riley, co-chair of the Presidential Oral History Program.

“The Miller Center conducts presidential oral history interviews on the premise that there is much to be learned about each presidential administration by speaking with those who experienced it,” Riley said. “In a word-of-mouth environment, as the White House is, the only available record of much that is important will be the memories of those who were there.”

A team of scholars, led by a member of the Presidential Oral History Program’s resident faculty, conducted the interviews. The length of interviews varied, with a typical session lasting roughly a day and a half with nine to 12 hours of recordings — though some were shorter, coming in at under an hour.

“Our interviews are extensive,” Riley said. “We usually try to spend a day and a half with each interviewee. The Clinton Project comprises 134 interviews. Those interviews took the Miller Center about a decade to record.”

Interviews were strictly confidential to promote honesty and free discussion, so only those who have cleared their interviews for release are available to the public.

The Miller Center will release a second batch of interviews Nov. 24.

“We expect to have about half of those interviews available for release before Thanksgiving,” Riley said. “The remainder will come out as we get the necessary future clearances from respondents to open their interviews to the public.”

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