About the National Archives

Oral History at the National Archives

The National Archives Oral History Project collects the historical experiences, insights, and perspectives of staff and former staff. The interviews help us understand the agency’s culture, work practices, decision-making processes, historical actions, and events, and they also help preserve the institutional memory of the National Archives. We will continue to add transcripts to this web page.

If you are interested in participating in the project as an interviewer or interviewee, or have suggestions on possible interviewees, contact the National Archives History Office: archives.historian@nara.gov

In 2017, Erik Moshe, an intern with the National Archives History Office—and veteran—conducted a series of oral history interviews with veteran National Archives employees which are available on the National Archives Veterans Oral Histories webpage

For oral history interviews related to the 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire, visit our NPRC fire anniversary page

We also collect and make available historical interviews conducted by staff such as ones by Philip C. Brooks, Sr. (1970s), Rod Ross (1980s), and the National Archives Assembly's Legacy Committee (2000s). 

Disclaimer: The views presented in these oral history interviews are those of the participants and not of the National Archives or the U.S. Government. 

National Archives History Office Interviews

Peggy Adams

Margaret "Peggy" Adams worked at the National Archives from 1987-2013. In her oral history, Ms. Adams talks about her time at the National Archives working with electronic records.

Sam Anthony

Sam Anthony began his career at the National Archives in 1991 in the Research Room of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. In 1994 he moved to the National Archives library, then worked in public programs hosting the author lecture series and genealogy workshops from 1998 until 2005. In 2005 he became Special Assistant to the Archivist, working for Archivist Allen Weinstein, Acting Archivist Adrienne Thomas, and Archivist David S. Ferriero. Sam passed away in 2021.

Jason R. Baron

Jason R. Baron, whose National Archives career spanned from 2000 to 2013, begins his interview with his participation as a DOJ lawyer (pre-NARA) in the landmark PROFS case that established that email can be a federal record and should be preserved in electronic format. He discusses how this case and successor cases ultimately led to NARA’s publishing of email regulations and the OMB/NARA Managing Government Records Directive. He then talks about becoming NARA’s first director of litigation, searching for responsive emails, the promise of artificial intelligence and machine learning for e-Discovery, playing a role in the development of the Capstone approach to managing email, and issues surrounding access. Lastly, Jason describes memorable cases and events during his 13 years at NARA.

Bob Beebe

Bob Beebe joined the National Archives in 2004 as an archives technician at the Lenexa Federal Records Center (FRC). He eventually became the audit team lead, and in this role he provided quality control over all requests and refiles at the FRC. In September 2015, Bob joined the staff of the National Archives at Kansas City as an archivist working at Lenexa with archival holdings. In his interview, Bob discusses his time at the National Archives, especially working with patent records. Bob Beebe passed away on December 22, 2023.

Eugene L. Bialek

Eugene L. Bialek served as a volunteer staff aide for the National Archives Navy Maritime Unit at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Previously, Mr. Bialek worked as an oceanographer for the Navel Oceanographic Office at the Washington Navy Yard for 25 years. 

Rick Blondo

Rick Blondo’s National Archives career spanned nearly thirty years, from 1990 to 2019. His positions included appraisal archivist, education specialist, National Archives Building Renovation Management Team member, and Federal Records Storage Facility Standards compliance manager, among others. In his interview, Rick describes how earlier experiences and key mentors ultimately—and unwittingly—guided him to the National Archives, and how his skills and experience were used in sometimes unexpected ways. The interview focuses especially on the renovation of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. 

Mark A. Bradley

Mark A. Bradley was appointed as the Director of Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) at the National Archives in 2016. He served for six-and-a-half years before retiring in 2023. In his oral history interview, Mark talks about his first impressions of the agency and the office, and then discusses ISOO’s mission, its authorities and many responsibilities, as well as the numerous risks and challenges facing the office.

Philip C. Brooks, Jr.

Philip C. Brooks, Jr. transferred to the National Archives in 1971 from the Smithsonian Institution where he began his career in archival and museum administration. Among his positions were Assistant to the Executive Director and Labor Relations Officer, Assistant to the Assistant Archivist for Public Programs, and Director of the Education Division. From 1983 until his retirement in 1996, Brooks served as a Senior Archives Specialist with the Office of Federal Records Centers. Brooks also served as an historian-archivist for the Presidential Inaugural Committee on three occasions.

Arlene Brown

After retiring from the federal government in 1988, Arlene Brown volunteered for the National Archives for nearly three decades. In her interview Brown discusses her work as a docent at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. 

Joyce Burner

Joyce Burner came to the National Archives in 2010 as an archivist after having worked as an intern, volunteer, contractor, and briefly as a student hire for the agency. In her interview Burner discusses her internships at the National Archives Central Plains Regional Archives and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library; the move from the Bannister Road facility to Union Station; and her work at the National Archives at Kansas City. Burner retired from the National Archives in 2019.

Bruce Bustard

Bruce Bustard was a senior curator with the National Archives Exhibits staff in Washington, DC. He worked for the agency for over 30 years, starting as an archivist on April 1, 1985—the day the National Archives became an independent agency.  

John Constance

John Constance, whose storied NARA career spanned 35 years from 1972 to 2007, begins his interview describing his internship in the Office of the Archivist when the National Archives was still part of the General Services Administration (GSA). He then joined the agency’s National Audiovisual Center, which was responsible for marketing and distributing educational films to the public. John discusses the training received and his surprise run-ins with the rich and the famous. He then talks about his transition to Director of Policy and Program Analysis and eventually to Director of Congressional and Public Affairs. Along the way, he covers NARA’s independence from GSA; the agency’s first Inspector General; advocating for and obtaining agency appropriations; the financing of Archives II; fielding questions from Capitol Hill and the press; building personal relationships with Congress; working with the Kennedy family; and his appointment to the Senior Executive Service.

Susan Cummings

Susan Cummings started her NARA career in 1994 at the Washington National Records Center in Suitland. During her time at the Archives she worked in various offices including the Policy and Planning staff, the Office of Regional Records Services, the Office of Records Services, Research Services, and Agency Services.

Alex “AJ” Daverede

After a career in the U.S. Navy, Alex Daverede came to the National Archives in 1996 as an archives technician in the Initial Processing and Declassification Division. After working with military records for many years and participating in the Career Intern Development System (CIDS), he became a supervisory archivist with the newly established National Declassification Center (NDC). Daverede retired in 2019 as NDC’s senior archivist.

William "Bill" Davis

Bill Davis started his 32 year career at the National Archives in the Legislative Diplomatic Branch working with State Department Records. After working in the Library and Printed Archives Branch and on the Archival Publication Staff he came to Legislative Archives in 1988 where he worked until his retirement in 2016. 

Michelle Dozier

Michelle Dozier came to the National Archives in 2001 as the Archives.gov team leader on the Web Program staff, and later became the Web Program Manager. She ended her NARA career in 2022 as the Chief of Staff in the Office of Innovation.

Nancy Fortna

Nancy Fortna started her career at the National Archives in 1987 as a Microfilm Operator in the Office of Federal Record Centers on K Street in Washington, DC. During her 27-years at the National Archives she held numerous positions including in the Professional Development and Training Office, and the Life Cycle Management Office. Nancy ended her NARA career in the Customer Services Section at Archives I where she helped develop the “Know Your Records” education program and the annual National Archives’ Genealogy Fair.

Benjamin Guterman

Benjamin "Ben" Guterman worked for the National Archives for 24 years. After starting as an intermittent student employee, Ben spent most of his career as a writer-editor working on various publications including Prologue magazine.

Doris Hamburg

Doris Hamburg was Director of Preservation Programs from 2001 until her retirement from the National Archives in 2016. In her oral history she discusses Preservation Programs at the National Archives and interesting projects she was involved with during her tenure.  

James "Jim" Hemphill

James W. Hemphill came to the National Archives in December 1991 after 17 years of service in the office of Senator Mark Hatfield, a promoter of the agency’s independence from the General Services Administration. Jim started as the Executive Assistant to Archivist Don Wilson, and after filling other roles, took a position in the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) where he remained for the next 25 years. In his two-part interview, he discusses his time working for Senator Hatfield’s Office; working under Archivist Wilson; building trust at NARA; the transition from analog to digital; the OFR’s mission, the Federal Register process, and the OFR’s role in the Electoral College; managing the eDOCS project; the establishment of the National Archives Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission; the electronic Code of Federal Records; serving in a continuity role during 9/11; and thoughts on leadership.

Michael L. Jackson

Michael L. Jackson was an Exhibit Designer at the National Archives from 1994-2014. In his oral history he explains his duties and responsibilities as an Exhibit Designer, as well as the major projects he was involved with during his time at the National Archives.

Marvin Kabakoff

Marvin Kabakoff left part-time teaching to start his career at the National Archives in 1977 at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. During his interview, Kabakoff discusses training, record centers, and decisions about permanent records, as well as the positives and negatives of sampling records.

David Kepley

David Kepley worked for the National Archives for 36 years and was chief of four different branches. In his interview, Kepley discusses the Archival Research Catalog (ARC), traces the origins and development of NARA’s Electronic Records Archives (ERA), and talks about NARA’s independence from GSA.

Daria Labinsky

Daria Labinsky was an archivist with the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and had previously worked as an archivist at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. In her interview, Daria discusses the National Archives Assembly, judging National History Day, and her archival projects at the Carter Library. She also reflects on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on archival work.

Barbara Larsen 

Barbara Larsen devoted 10 years to NARA as a volunteer eventually working full time for 14 years at the National Archives at Kansas City. 

Alan Lowe

Alan Lowe began his career at the National Archives in 1989 at the Reagan Library. In his oral history Lowe discusses his career at the National Archives with Presidential Libraries, especially related to the Ronald Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George W. Bush libraries. Lowe left the National Archives in 2016 for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Howard Lowell

Howard Lowell was the state archivist for Delaware and Oklahoma before coming to the National Archives in 2000 to be the Deputy Assistant Archivist for Records Services - Washington, DC. From 2007-2010, Lowell served as the agency's External Coordinator for Disaster Preparedness and Response. In his oral history, he discusses his time before coming to the National Archives, the agency’s records management program, and NARA’s disaster preparedness efforts.

Nancy Malan

Nancy Malan started her career at NARA in Still Pictures in 1968. She retired in 2006 after 38 years having worked in Public Programs, Central Reference, and the Regional Archives.

Edward “Ed” McCarter

Ed McCarter began his nearly 40-year career at the National Archives in 1975 as a student temp in the General Archives Division in Suitland, Maryland. From 1977 to 1980 he was an Archivist for the Office of Military Government, United States (OMGUS) Project in the General Archives Division. In 1980, he became an Archivist in the Still Pictures unit where he spent the remainder of his career. He retired in 2014 as the Chief of the Still Pictures Branch.

Richard McCulley

Richard McCulley was the first, and to date only, Historian at the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. In his oral history, Richard details his time as Center Historian and the evolution of the Center for Legislative Archives, from when he was hired in 1993 until just before his retirement in 2016. Richard McCulley passed away in 2024.

David McMillen

David McMillen was External Affairs Liaison at the National Archives from 2006-2013, and Special Assistant for the National Archives from 2013 until his retirement in 2017. Previous to coming to the National Archives David worked at the Census Bureau and on the Hill. 

Mary Ann McSweeney

Mary Ann McSweeney came to the National Archives in the early 1980s as a part-time, intermittent employee at the Southeast Regional Archives in Atlanta. In the mid-1980s she became a permanent staff member at the regional archives, and in 1999 she moved to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. In her oral history she talks about working at the regional archives, the Carter Library, and early digitization at the National Archives. McSweeney retired in 2021 with 35 years of federal service. 

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson held numerous positions at the National Archives including Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Special Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer,  Acting Executive for Research Services, Director of Archival Programs in the Office of Regional Records Services, and Web Program Director in Policy and Communications, among others. 

Chuck Piercy

Chuck Piercy was at the National Archives for seven years (2008-2015) holding the positions of Deputy Chief Information Officer, Acting Chief Information Officer, and Executive for Business Support Services. In his interview he talks about his time at the National Archives with particular attention to electronic records. 

Marvin Pinkert

Marvin Pinkert was the Director of Museum Programs for 11 years starting in December 2000 to oversee the re-encasement of the Charters of Freedom and manage the creation of the National Archives Experience, which culminated with the creation of the permanent exhibit The Public Vaults and the opening of the McGowan Theater.

Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler

Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler began working as a senior conservator in the National Archives conservation lab in 1985, and retired as its chief in 2016. Her interview covers her role in caring for the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights (collectively known as the Charters of Freedom) including the Charters re-casement project; the Iraqi Jewish Archives; and changes in the conservation lab over the course of her 30-year career.

Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez began his career at the National Archives in 2010 as an archives specialist conducting quality control on the fifth Chronological Release of the Nixon White House tapes. Rodriguez also worked on updating the finding aids and improving access to the tapes. In his interview, he talks about the challenges he experienced working on the Nixon tapes, including the difficulties in reviewing the tapes due to poor sound quality, redaction, digitization, and the lack of staff.

Rod Ross

Rod Ross came to the National Archives in 1977 as an archives technician for the Office of Presidential Libraries. He was an archivist for the Nixon Presidential Materials Project from 1978-83, the White House Liaison Office from 1983-84, and the Washington National Records Center in Suitland from 1984-86. While in Suitland, Ross led the National Archives Oral History Project from 1985-86. After two years as a supervisory archivist in the Library and Printed Archives Branch, Ross moved to the Center for Legislative Archives where he worked as an archivist until his retirement in 2017.

John Scroggins

John Scroggins began his 36-year career with the National Archives in 1962 as a student trainee at the Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Over the years he held numerous positions in Washington, DC, and in the field. When he retired in 1998, he was Special Assistant to the Assistant Archivist for Human Resources and Information Services.

William “Bill” Seibert

William “Bill” Seibert was a Senior Archivist and Chief of Archival Operations at the National Archives at St. Louis when he retired in 2017. Seibert began working for the National Personnel Records Center in 1978, after serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. After completing Career in Development Status (CIDS) training, he became Chief of a Correspondence Section in the Records Reconstruction Branch, which handles records damaged in the NPRC’s 1973 fire. He held several other positions in the NPRC. When NARA established a preservation program in St. Louis, in 2000, Seibert was named Preservation Officer and tasked with setting up that unit, staffing it and developing the preservation labs. When the National Archives of St. Louis was established, in 2004, he became the Chief of Archival Operations. In addition to describing notable events in his career, this oral history discusses Seibert’s involvement in NARA’s momentous decision to make late 19th and 20th century Official Military and Civilian Personnel Files permanent records, which vastly increased the agency’s holdings.

Keith Shuler

Keith Shuler joined the National Archives in November 1985 as an “intermittent employee” at the work-in-progress Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, while finishing up a masters’ degree in history at Georgia State University. He became a full-time archives technician in 1987 and an archivist in 1989. Before joining NARA he served in the U.S. Army, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, mustering out as a second lieutenant. Shuler discusses his military career, the early days of the Carter Library, various facets of his tenure as an archivist, and how the COVID-19 pandemic affected his work. He still worked for the library at the time of the interview in 2021.

Joseph “Joe” Suster

Joseph “Joe” Suster began working as a GS-2 archives aid at the Chicago Federal Records Center in 1978. After passing the civil service exam, he was hired full time as an archives technician, then was chosen for the Career Intern Development System (CIDS) program in 1979. Upon completion, he worked as a quality control auditor at the Washington National Records Center. In August 1983 he returned to the Chicago FRC and served as a service branch chief, then as appraisal and disposition branch chief. In September 1999 he became the Director of the Great Lakes Region’s Records Management Program. From January 2002 to August 2003, he served a detail as the Assistant Regional Administrator for the Great Lakes Region. When the detail ended, he returned to his director’s position, remaining there until 2011, when a NARA reorganization led to his becoming a senior records analyst, focused on training and on creating instructional materials. Suster retired in September 2019. This interview discusses the different jobs he held, and how the records management program at NARA has changed over the years

Tasha Thain

Tasha Thain was the Director of NARA's Corporate Records Management for two years, from June 2014 - June 2016. She worked in records management for 18 years prior to coming to NARA.

Ken Thibodeau

Ken Thibodeau worked for the National Archives for 22 years. He began his career in 1975 working in the Machine-Readable Archives Division and, later, he was Director of the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) program from its inception in 1998. He also led the effort to implement the George W. Bush Presidential Library's electronic record system. 

Stanley "Stan" Tozeski

Stanley "Stan" Tozeski worked for the National Archives at Boston for 24 years. He worked as an archivist and especially enjoyed working on the military and court records and was later general assistant to Jim Owens. 

Don Wilson

Don Wilson started his National Archives career at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and in 1981 became the first Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. In 1987 President Ronald Reagan nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed Wilson to be the first Archivist of the United States after the National Archives regained its independent agency status in 1985.

James “Jim” Zeender

Jim Zeender first came to the National Archives in 1979, and after leaving for three years returned to the Office of Presidential Libraries. He became an exhibit registrar in 1985, a position he held until his retirement in 2020. In his oral history he talks about his 35 years working on National Archives exhibits and document loans.