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On May 16, 2019, Columbia University announced the Obama Foundation had selected the Columbia Center for Oral History to conduct the official oral history of the Obama presidency. The result of this collaboration will be a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and impact of this historic presidential administration.

“The pride we feel in counting President Obama as an alumnus involves much more than the recognition of his time as a student here many years ago. This is a relationship built on shared values and interests that is producing public spirited projects of enormous, even transformative, potential at Columbia," said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger.

Read the full announcement.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance at the Commander in Chief Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013. The President and First Lady danced to "Let's Stay Together" performed by Jennifer Hudson, right.

Columbia Center for Oral History

The Columbia Center for Oral History, founded in 1948, is the country’s largest and oldest oral history archive, with more than 11,000 recorded interviews and over 25,000 hours of transcript. The collection is renowned for its diversity, including perspectives of people from the 1870s to present, from the experiences of former slaves to recollections of Supreme Court justices. Columbia is also home to the nation’s only graduate-level training program in the field of oral history.

Housed at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE), Columbia University’s leading interdisciplinary social science research center, Columbia Oral History’s recent major works include projects to document how New Yorkers experienced September 11, the “Rule of Law” project to examine Guantanamo and civil rights law in the twenty-first century, and a history of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Over the next five years, the Columbia Center for Oral History Research will conduct roughly 400 interviews with a diverse range of individuals.

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Senior White House Officials
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Political Leaders Across the Spectrum
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People From All Walks of Life

Research and Administrative Staff

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Peter Bearman

Jonathan R. Cole Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Director, Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE)

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Mary Marshall Clark

Director, Columbia Center for Oral History Research

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Kimberly Springer

Curator, Oral History Archives, Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library

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Michael Falco

Associate Director, Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE)

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Terrell Frazier

Lead Interviewer, Obama Presidency Oral History Project