Since 1986, the California State Archives has administered a legislatively established oral history program that has, to date, completed over 200 interviews. This systematic and disciplined effort to record, preserve, and make interviews available supplements the historical records in the Archives and provides researchers with a broader and more complete picture of California government than can be gleaned from documents alone.
Interviews are conducted with people who have had significant roles in California state government: former members of the legislature, constitutional officers, agency and department heads, and those who have shaped public policy or have been identified as being influential in political and public developments at the statewide level. The selection process is on a non–partisan basis, with the goal of illuminating key aspects of California government history. The interviews capture information that might otherwise be lost and prevents "corporate amnesia." The interviews also enhance the historical understanding of legislative and executive processes and policy–making in California by capturing the personal insights of these men and women.
While the program is administered centrally through the State Archives where professional staff analyze gaps in the historical record, set interview priorities and standards, and preserve tapes and transcripts, the interviews are carried out through contracts with oral history programs at several participating universities. Interviewers adhere to professional oral history principles, standards, and ethical guidelines. They do meticulous background research, identify key questions and areas of interest, conduct the interviews, and prepare accurate interview transcriptions that are reviewed and approved by the subject. The tape recordings and finished transcripts are deposited at the State Archives where they are open to research by the public.
Transcripts are available via the alphabetized list on this web page, or through a keyword search on Minerva. Those who prefer to listen to the audio version should navigate to Minerva.
If you have any questions regarding the Oral History Program or any suggestions for interviewees, please email OralHistory@sos.ca.gov.
Summaries and Subject Index
Interview summaries are arranged alphabetically by surname. Clicking on the letter will take you to the surname page. If a transcript of an interview is available, the summary will have a link to a downloadable PDF file.
Subject list uses Library of Congress subject headings.
Recently released Oral History transcripts
Mori, S. Floyd (OH 2023–03)
Oral History Interview with S. Floyd Mori (PDF) (2021). Mayor of Pleasanton 1972-1975; Assembly Member, 1975-1980.
Mori discusses his early life, family, growing up on a farm, experience during World War II, participation in the Mormon church, education, experience in Hawaii on a mission assignment, developing an interest in politics, time working as an economics instructor, grassroots approach to both mayoral and assembly campaigns, relationship with the media, importance of endorsements, growth of Asian Americans in the political world, experience in Sacramento, decision to vote to decriminalize marijuana, oversight of the agriculture labor relations board committee, authoring bills, perspectives on economics, colleagues, time at the Office of International Trade, visiting Japan, serving as national president of the Japanese American Citizens League, working on a bill to preserve WWII Japanese American incarceration camps, creation of a Asian Pacific American Heritage month in Utah, involvement in the Asian American Pacific Islander caucus, time as CEO of Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, and reflections on his career in civil service.
Murray, Kevin (OH 2023–04)
Oral History Interview with Kevin Murray (PDF) (2021). Assembly Member, 1994-1998; Senator, 1998-2006.
Murray discusses his early life, family, education, his pre-legislature career in the entertainment industry and as a lawyer, his election to the legislature, the first member to serve alongside his father, chair of Assembly Transportation Committee, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, chair of the Senate Transportation committee, chair of the Democratic Caucus, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Polanco, Richard (OH 2023-05)
Oral History Interview with Richard Polanco (PDF). (2021). Assembly Member, 1986-1994; Senator, 1994-2002.
Polanco discusses his early life, family, education, early involvement in politics, community work, career leading up to his political campaigns, serving in both the state assembly and senate, his legislative priorities and committee work, legislation to address the AIDS epidemic, serving as the Latino Caucus chair, working with Cesar Chavez, support of Senate Bill 984, memories of September 11, 2001, decision not to run for re-election in 2002, and his creation of the fellows program under the Latino Caucus Institute.