U.Va. Miller Center to Begin Releasing Clinton Presidential History Project Friday

President Bill Clinton getting sworn into office

President Bill Clinton is sworn in at his second inauguration on Jan. 20, 1997.

At 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, the University of Virginia’s Miller Center will release a first batch of interviews online conducted for the Clinton Presidential History Project. The release will occur at the conclusion of a symposium on the Clinton administration as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Comprising more than 100 interviews with Cabinet secretaries, White House aides, members of Congress and foreign leaders, the project provides a detailed history of the Clinton administration in the words of those who knew it best. Teams of scholars conducted the interviews, many of which run more than 100 pages long. The interviews provide firsthand accounts from all perspectives on a wide range of issues.

“The value in these interviews is that they take us behind the scenes in the White House, into a world where human memory is often the only record of what transpired,” said Russell Riley, co-chair of the Miller Center’s Oral History Program, who led the Clinton project.

“These oral histories are conducted in such a way as to foster complete candor – and so the reader of these transcripts gets a front row seat to history,” Riley said. “The portraiture of the Clinton presidency painted here will be indispensable for anyone who wants to develop a full understanding of the Clinton presidency in all its many dimensions.”

Forty-seven interview transcripts will be posted Friday and available at millercenter.org/president/clinton/oralhistory.

A second batch of interviews will be released Nov. 24.

“A decade of interviews, with scores of individuals, went into the Clinton Project,” said former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director and CEO of the Miller Center. “We spoke to those most familiar with the Clinton administration. Preserved for the future use of scholars, historians and the general public are the memories, impressions and recollections about specific programs, people, challenges and changes of the eight consequential years of one president, Bill Clinton. Here the future will find great insights into the closing years of the 20th century and the enduring importance of one American’s singular leadership.”

Among the interviews to be released Friday will be those with Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and U.S. Sens. George Mitchell, D-Maine, and Alan Simpson, R-Wyo.

Scholars who conducted the interviews will discuss what they learned Friday at a special event at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. They will take part in panel discussions with former Clinton administration officials examining Clinton’s domestic, economic and foreign policies.

A live webcast of the event, which starts at 10:30 a.m. EST Friday, will be available here.

The Clinton Project was launched in 2001 as a collaborative effort between the Miller Center and the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History.

The nonpartisan Miller Center also has conducted the oral histories of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. These interview transcripts are available at millercenter.org/oralhistory.

Early next year, the center will release the oral history of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

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