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Oral History Transcripts Available for Download

The Jimmy Carter Library has a number of oral history interviews, but most are not available in electronic format. However, a number of the "Exit Interviews" are.

Between 1977 and 1981, the National Archives Office of Presidential Libraries maintained a liaison office in the Old Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House. This liaison office had a number of archival and historical missions which were designed to supplement the textual and audio-visual documentation for the Carter Presidency. One of these missions was the Exit Interview Program for members of the White House Staff. National Archives employees had conducted a similar interview project during the Nixon Administration. Between June 1978 and January 1981, liaison office staff conducted 163 exit interviews, the majority of which were recorded on audiotape, either reel-to-reel or cassette. Marie Allen, David Alsobrook, and Emily Williams Soapes conducted the majority of these interviews. Lee Johnson and Tom Soapes also interviewed some White House staffers. The interviewees included senior-level Presidential advisers as well as other members of the White House Staff.

Prior to conducting interviews, the liaison staff carried out research and developed a standard list of questions to be asked. These standard questions usually served as a basic format for the interview. Whenever possible, the interviewers encouraged spontaneity on the part of the interviewees. A typical exit interview lasted from forty-five to sixty minutes. However, in some cases, the interview extended beyond sixty minutes, and in a few rare cases, there was a follow-up interview.

In each interview, liaison office staff primarily sought to elicit information about the White House staffer's role during the Carter Administration--daily and longterm projects, important assignments, memorable events, personal interaction with the President, etc. Questions also were asked about the organization of particular White House offices and units. In some instances, specific questions were asked about a staffer's background prior to his/her White House experience, including any service with Carter political campaigns.

These interviews vary significantly in terms of audio quality and historical value. In some of the recordings, there is a great deal of background noise and tape distortion. On the other hand, many of the tapes are of broadcast quality. Regarding content, some interviews consist primarily of an interviewee's comments about the organizational structure of a particular office or unit. Other interviews focus exclusively on the details of particular events or decisions of historical significance. Many of the interviews were conducted during or immediately after staff reorganizations, such as those which occurred during the summers of 1978 and 1979, or in the spring of 1979, when many staffers left the White House to work in the President's re-election campaign. Many of the interviews conducted during these periods include a great deal of information about changes in the staffing patterns and organization of various White House units. Some interviewees also explained why the reorganizations occurred.

A list of all exit interviews can be found in Oral Histories at the Jimmy Carter Library. Researchers may request access to the transcript (where available), tape, or both for those interviews that are open to research. Copies of the transcript (where available) and the tape also may be ordered by researchers.

Those interested may view the Exit Interview Standard Questions used by the interviewers as the starting point for the exit interviews.

The following Oral History/Exit Interview transcripts may be downloaded in Portable Document Format (PDF):

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