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Life in the Senate

Oral History Project

Offering a unique perspective on Senate history, the Oral History Project is a collection of interviews that cover the breadth of the 20th century and now the 21st century. To create this collection, the Senate historians have interviewed Senate officers, parliamentarians, clerks, police officers, chiefs of staff, reporters, photographers, Senate pages, and senators.

Many of the earliest interviewees were men and women who began their Senate career when the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 mandated a larger nonpartisan and professional staff. They described the evolution of the Senate from a small community or “inner club,” often closed and mysterious, to a complex, modern institution increasingly conducting its business in full public view.

The interviews follow a biographical format, beginning with the subject’s family background, education, and pre-Senate work experience. They explore how Senate service began, and then trace those careers from senator to senator, office to office, and committee to committee, frequently making comparisons among these many settings and personalities.

Transcripts of twenty-nine of these interviews are available on the U.S. Senate website. Interview transcripts are also deposited in the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the appropriate presidential libraries and senatorial manuscript collections.