Obama Presidency Oral History

Incite at Columbia University
The Obama Presidency as told by 450+ officials, activists, organizers, and extraordinary people from all walks of life.
  • Sylvia Burwell

    OMB Director and HHS Secretary

  • Tom Harkin

    US Senator from Iowa

  • Cecile Richards

    Planned Parenthood President

  • Nancy-Ann DeParle

    White House Deputy Chief of Staff

  • Lisa Jackson

    EPA Administrator

  • Neera Tanden

    Health Policy Advisor

  • Michael Minor

    Pastor and Healthcare Advocate

  • Arun Majumdar

    ARPA-E Director

  • Robert Trapp

    Newspaper Publisher and Correspondent

  • Steven Chu

    Secretary of Energy

  • Bill McKibben

    Environmental Activist

  • Sandra Fluke

    Reproductive Health Advocate

  • Christy Goldfuss

    Environmental Policy Official

  • Don Verrilli

    Solicitor General

  • Elizabeth Fowler

    Health Policy Official

  • Kathleen Sebelius

    Secretary of Health and Human Services

  • Art and Helen Tanderup


  • Todd Stern

    Special Envoy

  • Nancy Nielsen

    American Medical Association President

  • Aneesh Chopra

    US Chief Technology Officer

Sylvia Burwell
OMB Director and HHS Secretary

Interviews released

Explore a special preview of interviews related to climate, energy, the environment, and healthcare.

Explore all interviews

Since 2019, Incite at Columbia University has interviewed hundreds of people to produce the official oral history of the Obama presidency. These in-depth interviews, conducted with those inside and outside of the administration, represent roughly 1,100 hours of audio and video that together form a comprehensive record of the Obama years.

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Each oral history interview contains dozens of stories. Explore these stories through prepared playlists—or save stories to make your own.

  • go to the interview
    Reflections on being perceived as supporting insurance companies during health reform Elizabeth Fowler
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    Reflections on the outcomes of the Copenhagen Climate Summit Todd Stern
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    Obama's demeanor in social settings compared to work during legislative negotiations Nancy-Ann DeParle
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    Challenges in advancing the construction of the smart grid and federal agency coordination Nancy Sutley
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    Grassroots advocacy for the ACA and its impact on Mississippi communities Michael Minor
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    Negotiating the Affordable Care Act without the health insurance industry cooperation Elizabeth Fowler
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    Communicating the benefits of the ACA to uninsured individuals John Mier
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    Early experiences with environmental justice and regulation in Canton, Massachusetts Gina McCarthy
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    John Podesta's unexpected path to becoming a conservation advocate Christy Goldfuss
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    Decline of cap-and-trade legislation momentum and impact of 2010 midterms Heather Zichal
Explore all stories


From healthcare to the financial crisis to nuclear nonproliferation, each topic explored in this collection is brought to life by narrators from both inside and outside the Obama administration.

See more topics


Navigate the interconnected events and places that make up this history, narrated by the stories of the people who lived it.

News& Events

  • read full text: What a New Oral History Reveals About Obama, and the Tradeoffs He Made
    Peter Baker in The New York Times.
    NewsRead more
  • read full text: An Expansive View Into Obama’s Transformative Presidency
    Caroline Harting in Columbia News.
    NewsRead more
  • read full text: The Obama Presidency Inside-Out: A Conversation About Climate
    New York City
    On May 31, 2023, we gathered in New York City to celebrate the completion of the Obama Presidency Oral History project's fieldwork.
    EventRead more
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