Oral history lends a human voice to institutions and historical events. Since 2004, our oral historians have captured countless behind-the-scenes moments of the House of Representatives. From life as a Page in the 1930s to the experiences of those on Capitol Hill during and after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, oral history interviews provide a firsthand account of House history.
The House oral history staff have conducted more than 300 interviews with former Members, staff, and family. They have published nearly 70 full transcripts and have shared more than 850 video and audio clips on the History, Art & Archives website—with new oral histories on the way.
In August 2020, we launched the redesigned Oral History section of the website. The new design makes it easier to browse all interviewees, filter by their positions and service dates, and access all available full transcripts in PDF format. The highlight of the redesign is a searchable database of oral history audio and video clips. Users can use a free text search and filter clips by events, themes, or interview subjects.
Looking for a suggestion on where to start? Try one of these clips:
Representative Pat Schroeder of Colorado recalls the chaos of traveling to and from the district with her young children and pet rabbit. See more clips about motherhood and serving in Congress or listen to family members discuss their loved one’s careers in Congress.
Representative Ron Dellums of California recalls meeting South African President Nelson Mandela and how the two civil rights leaders inspired one another. Hear more from Representative Dellums’s career or the fight to end apartheid in South Africa, among other struggles for civil rights.
Representative Nancy Lee Johnson of Connecticut requested updated equipment for separate gym facilities for female Members of Congress, to which an older male colleague responded, “I don’t know why you want machines. You know, those machines only build muscles.” Hear more stories of women Members facing barriers to equality on Capitol Hill.
With the new format, you can also explore our content thematically:
Hear history in the voices of those who lived it—and enjoy!
Find more oral history stories in our blog!