How will Obama be remembered? A massive new oral history project will help shape his legacy.Breaking News
tags: Obama, presidential history, oral histories
During his eight years as president, Barack Obama demonstrated a keen appreciation for history. The nation’s first African American commander in chief used Abraham Lincoln’s Bible for his swearing-in on Inauguration Day. He quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt when making an address about Syria. He held regular White House dinners with prominent historians to glean lessons from the past.
Now some of the crucial work to cement his own legacy is about to begin.
On Thursday, the Obama Foundation and Columbia University will announce the creation of a massive oral history project for the Obama presidency. Over the next five years, the Columbia Center for Oral History Research will conduct and collect more than 400 interviews of people with insight into the 44th president’s life and administration.
Starting with Herbert Hoover, oral history projects have been conducted for every American president. Some have had the cooperation of the former president himself, as Obama’s will. Others were conducted after the president’s death or without explicit approval, as was the case with Richard M. Nixon.
Many of these oral history collections are housed in presidential libraries or academic institutions and provide biographers with richly detailed firsthand accounts from which to reconstruct Oval Office narratives.
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