Oral History Collections
Oral Histories with Everett M. Dirksen
5 Dirksen, Everett McKinley (1896-1969), Oral History Interview Transcripts, 1968-1969
Copies of three oral history interviews with Dirksen concerning Lyndon Johnson. The May 8, 1968, interview conducted by William S. White dealt with Johnson’s political career, Dirksen’s views on congressional leadership, the Marshall Plan, political strategy and style, Vietnam, Dwight Eisenhower’s intervention in Lebanon, the U-2 affair, the “Johnson treatment,” and Johnson’s announcement that he would not seek the presidency in 1968.
The March 21, 1969, interview conducted by Joe B. Frantz covered the following topics: federal aid to education; the relationship between Dirksen and Johnson; the reapportionment controversy; selection of Supreme Court Justices, including Abe Fortas; judicial and Senate Judiciary Committee decisions on pornography; and replacing Earl Warren on the Supreme Court.
The July 30, 1969, interview conducted by Frantz dealt with the 1957 and 1964 civil rights bills, political method and style, and tax reform.
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Austin, Texas, houses the original interviews.
38 Dirksen, Louella Carver (1899-1979), Interview Notes, 1970
Dirksen biographer Edward L. Schapsmeier’s notes of an interview with Mrs. Dirksen on October 8, 1970. Topics: Everett Dirksen’s 1950 campaign for the U.S. Senate, his early years in Pekin and in the House of Representatives, his political interests, his 1944 campaign for the presidential nomination, and his eye problems in 1947 (which led to his decision not to run for reelection in 1948).
71 Gomien, John and Glee, Oral History Interviews, 1980
Three 60-minute cassettes and transcripts of interviews conducted on July 23, 1980, by Dirksen staffer Janet Lange with Glee Gomien, former executive secretary to Dirksen, and her husband, John, Dirksen’s administrative assistant. The Gomiens discussed their backgrounds and work for Dirksen in the House and Senate, the office structure and operation, campaigns, and memories of Dirksen.
72 Hruska, Roman L., Oral History Interviews, 1981
Four 60-minute tapes of interviews conducted by Dirksen staffer Janet Lange with former senator Roman L. Hruska (R-NE), often called Dirksen’s best friend in the Senate. On January 5, Hruska discussed the political environment of the 1960s and 1970s and its effect on leadership in Congress; the administrations of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon; Watergate; social legislation, and the Vietnam war. In the April 22 session, the senator dealt with structural changes in Congress in the 1960s and 1970s and their effect on leadership in Congress; questions related to committee jurisdiction; and problems faced by Congress members in the 1970s.
73 Lohman, Martin B., Illinois General Assembly Oral History Program: Martin B. Lohman, Memoir (Springfield: Sangamon State University, 1980)
Transcript of an interview conducted in 1979 by Cullom Davis with former Illinois state senator and representative Marty Lohman. Lohman discussed his early years in Pekin, his work as an alderman and as city clerk, his service in the Illinois House and Senate, and acquaintances including Scott Lucas, Everett Dirksen, and Adlai Stevenson.
74 Preston, Roy S., Oral History Interview, 1980
One 60-minute cassette and transcript of an interview with Roy “Peach” Preston, March 3, 1980. Preston, a Dirksen peer, described his memories of Dirksen’s early years in Pekin, his campaigns, and his work with the American Legion.
75 Rainville, Harold E., Oral History Interview, 1974
Three cassettes and a transcript (not verbatim) of an interview with Harold Rainville, special assistant to Senator Everett Dirksen, on March 22, 1974, conducted by Josh Lee, part of the team designing the exhibit for The Dirksen Congressional Center. Topics: Dirksen’s campaigns and Rainville’s role; Rainville’s relationship with Louella Dirksen; observations about various people associated with Dirksen; his opinion of Dirksen’s qualities; and The Dirksen Congressional Center.
76 Rainville, Harold E., Interview Notes, 1970
Dirksen biographer Edward L. Schapsmeier’s notes of an interview with Rainville on October 8, 1970. Topics: Everett and Louella Dirksen; Dirksen’s political goals and campaigns; and Dirksen’s relationship with Colonel McCormick of the Chicago Tribune.
77 Torcom, Jean E., Interviews, 1970-1971
This collection consists of interview transcripts prepared by political scientist Jean Torcom for her dissertation and for a paper presented at the American Political Science Association annual meeting, September 7-11, 1971, “Minority Leadership: The Role and Style of Everett Dirksen.”
Torcom conducted interviews in the summer of 1970 with 29 Senators and two staffers who served with Everett Dirksen. The duration of these interviews ranged from 7 minutes to 75 minutes, with most lasting 20 to 30 minutes. The transcripts typically number 4 to 5 pages—there are 166 pages in total. The list of interviewees follows: George Aiken, Gordon Allott, Howard H. Baker, Jr., Henry Bellmon, Wallace Bennett, J. Caleb Boggs, John Sherman Cooper, Carl Curtis, Robert Dole, Paul Fanin, Barry Goldwater, Robert Griffin, Ed Gurney, Clifford Hansen, Mark Hatfield, Roman Hruska, Jacob Javits, Len Jordan, Thomas Kuchel, Charles “Mack” Mathias, Robert Packwood, Charles Percy, William Saxbe, Richard Schweiker, Hugh Scott, Ted Stevens, John Tower, Birch Bayh, Mike Mansfield, Frances Henderson (AA to Clifford Case), Michel Bernstein (Minority Counsel).
Torcom tended to work from a standard list of questions. Typical examples follow:
What is the function of the minority party?
What is the job of the minority leader?
How does the job change with a Republican in the White House?
How do you think Senator Dirksen saw his job?
Was he an effective leader?
What was his style?
What were his sources of influence?
How did Dirksen compare with other leaders?
What was his relationship with Democratic presidents?
Excerpts from these interviews related to Dirksen’s leadership style are posted at http://www.everettdirksen.name/dirksen_leadershipsenators.htm.
93 O’Conner, Len, Interviews with Everett M. Dirksen, 1964-1967
Four cassette tapes (and copies) of interviews conducted by Chicago radio personality Len O’Connor in 1964 and 1967 with Dirksen. The collection includes correspondence from the O’Connor Papers at the Chicago Historical Society regarding arrangements for the December 1964 interview. Dirksen Center staff prepared transcripts of the recordings which are also part of the collection. The interviews cover the entire range of Dirksen’s life. The 1964 session was the basis for a Dateline Chicago feature entitled “The Man from Pekin,” a 30-minute documentary.
133 “Everett McKinley Dirksen: Twentieth Century Cicero”
4 folders and 2 audio tapes
A 177-page biography of Dirksen written by George E. Tuttle, Emeritus Professor of Communications, Illinois State University (1995). This work focuses on Dirksen’s rhetoric and communication. As part of his research, Tuttle interviewed Louella Dirksen (August 26, 1974) and Tom Dirksen (July 30, 1980)—cassette recordings of those interviews are included, but there are no transcriptions.
136 Dirksen, Everett M., Interview, ca. 1965
1 folder and 2 VHS tapes
Two copies of a four-minute, black-and-white interview of Dirksen who responded to this question: “What are the differences between Republicans and Democrats?” His answer dealt with government spending and federal intrusion into private lives.
147 “Washington Perspective” Featuring Everett M. Dirksen, 1967
1 compact disc
Interview conducted by a student at Oral Roberts University, Jim Rodriguez, in the Fall of 1967 with Dirksen. The questions largely pertain to the role of spirituality in public life. Dirksen commented on the circumstances surrounding his recording career, the role of religion in his life, the effort to restore prayer to public schools, the resolution of his eye problem, and Dirksen’s appraisal of the Senate Chaplain’s office in the context of the Senate’s business. The interview includes selections from the record, “Man is Not Alone.”
148 Sawhill, Robert A., “Election Eve with Ev,” 1950
Sawhill was a journalist assigned to be with Everett Dirksen at Dirksen’s home in Pekin on the evening of his first election to the Senate. “Election Eve with Ev” is a 1.75 page recollection of Sawhill’s experiences that evening. The collection also includes a cut sheet from the Peoria Journal, November 8, 1950, reporting on Dirksen’s victory over Scott Lucas. There are copies of two letters and a telegram related to Sawhill’s assignment, too.
151 Loevy, Robert D., Civil Rights Act Interview Notes and Related Materials, 1982-2006
Loevy, a professor of political science at Colorado College, served as a Congressional Fellow in the office of Senator Thomas Kuchel, 1963-64. Loevy later authored several books related to the civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s. This collection consists of interview notes conducted for his book, To End All Segregation: The Politics of the Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990).
The collection includes On the Forward Edge: American Government and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a text-novel; the transcript of an interview conducted with Clarence Mitchell, Jr., August 17, 1983; and the following notes of interviews conducted by Loevy:
John Anderson, Member of Congress, September 12, 1984
Daniel Brewster, Senator, August 1982
James M. Burns, Professor of Political Science, April 26, 1982
Daniel Cronin, assistant to Senator Lister Hill, August 16, 1983
Cornelius Kennedy, Dirksen staffer, August 14, 1984
Stephen Kurzman, Jacob Javits staffer, ca. 1982-84
Eugene McCarthy, Senator, letter dated November 28, 1982
Clarence Mitchell, Jr., August 17, 1983 (see transcript)
Joseph Rauh, Jr., ADA, August 15, 1983, and August 13, 1984 (commenting on draft of Loevy’s book)
Bernard Waters, Dirksen staffer, August 16, 1983
157 Dirksen, Everett M., Interview, 1967
1 film on a 12-inch reel labelled “Bayh and Dirksen Interview with D. Denge”
The Dirksen portion of the film has been digitized on a DVD. Interviewer Denge apparently taught political science at Indiana University and recorded this interview to show students. In Dirksen’s 15-minute segment, he talks about the following topics: the development of party government, the structure of the Republican Senate leadership, the roles and responsibilities of the minority leader, the need for cooperation across the aisle, the task of assessing if legislation contains a preponderance or “good or evil,” his relationships with John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and the erroneous assumption that a ‘southern bloc” of Republicans and southern Democrats colluded on legislation.
173 MacNeil, Neil, Interviews with Everett Dirksen, 1967-1969
Journalist MacNeil’s notes and transcripts of interviews with Dirksen on the following dates:
May 16, 1967. Topics: Dirksen’s selection as party whip and then leader, 1956-1959; Dirksen’s leadership innovations; his assessments of colleagues; the liberal vs. conservative wings of the Senate Republican Party
June 14, 1967 (twice). Topics: Senate Republican leadership contest, 1958; liberal vs. conservative wings of the Senate Republican Party; methods Dirksen used to consolidate leadership power (e.g., committee assignments and raising funds and campaigning for colleagues); John Tower’s committee assignments; application of the seniority rule; Dirksen’s work ethic; leadership innovations (e.g. social functions and mementos); assessment of colleagues, past and present
July 13, 1967 (with Thomas Kuchel). Topics: William Knowland as Senate Minority Leader; Kuchel’s election as whip in 1959
July 13, 1967. Topics: Dirksen’s use of anecdotes to make a point with examples; Dirksen’s advice to Wendell Willkie and John Kennedy about preserving their speaking voices; his approach to public speaking
August 9, 1967. Topics: House leaders Bertram Snell, Joseph Martin, Sam Rayburn, Charles Halleck, Gerald Ford, and Robert Taft; Dirksen’s early support of the New Deal; nature of congressional leadership in the New Deal Congresses
August 9, 1967 (news conference). Topics: Rent supplements as the answer to low-cost housing
August 25, 1967. Topics: Lyndon Johnson as majority leader; Dirksen at a disadvantage in leadership resources; Dirksen’s leadership style did not involve threats or retaliation; example of appointments to the Golden Spike Commission; careful never to demean the office of president
September 27, 1967. Topics: Techniques and methods of hustling votes; Dirksen’s leadership style; examples of how Dirksen approached individual senators such as Howard Baker and Barry Goldwater; Dirksen did not issue threats or retaliate; Bobby Baker’s role; Senate Republican Policy Committee; Styles Bridges
November 6, 1967. Topics: Dirksen’s 1930 and 1932 campaigns for the House; William E. Hull, his opponent; Herbert Hoover’s appearance during the campaign; first invitation to the White House and the formal dress episode; Dirksen’s eye ailment; family’s decision that Dirksen run for the Senate in 1950
April 25, 1968. Topics: How Dirksen passed the bar examination; frugality as his family’s virtue; the “Dirksen amendment” strategy with examples; Dirksen’s efforts to end the Actors and Authors Division of the Works Progress Administration; reflections on Dirksen’s mother; Dirksen preferred work to sports
May 15, 1969. Topics: Dirksen’s clash with Senator Charles Goodell who called Dirksen “an obstructionist” in the press; Dirksen’s support of President Nixon’s legislative program and his reservations about certain Nixon appointees; the possibility that Dirksen helped Lyndon Johnson choose bombing targets in Vietnam
188 Fonsino, Frank, Everett Dirksen Oral History Project, 1976-1983
1.0 linear feet
As part of his research for his PhD, Fonsino conducted oral histories with eleven contemporaries of Everett Dirksen, including his widow, Louella, and his twin brother, Thomas Reed Dirksen. Fonsino focused his questions on Dirksen’s early years: family background, childhood in Pekin, high school, service in World War I, and career up to Dirksen’s election to the House of Representatives in 1932.
Oral History Collections
Oral Histories with Robert H. Michel
Interfile. Personal Series. 2005. Interviewed by Robert Remini, Library of Congress Publishing Office, January 19, 2005. Topics: Position with Congressman Harold Velde and Velde’s decision to retire; Michel’s assignment to the House Appropriations Committee; an offer to head Richard Nixon’s White House congressional liaison; election to lead the Congressional Campaign Committee; the Charles Halleck/Gerald Ford leadership transition and Michel’s rise through the Republican leadership; his relationship with Ronald Reagan; Sam Rayburn, John McCormack, Carl Albert, Tip O’Neill, Jim Wright, and Tom Foley as Speakers; Iran-Contra; Michel’s decision to retire and the prospect of a fight with Newt Gingrich; the onset of strident partisanship as a result of Gingrich’s speakership.
Interfile. Personal Series. 2007. Interviewed by Brien R. Williams, Robert J. Dole Oral History Project, May 24, 2007. Topics: Michel as a product of the Great Depression, his upbringing and education; position with Congressman Harold Velde; Michel’s speech in support of giving President George H.W. Bush authority to use ground troops in the Gulf War in 1991; the impact of having served in the military on Michel’s outlook; the pronunciation of his surname; the 1956 campaign; Michel’s relationship with, and evaluation of, Bob Dole; Michel as chair of the National Republican Campaign Committee and his relationship with other party campaign organizations; Michel’s three terms as Whip; his decision to retire from the House; Ronald Reagan’s effectiveness in lobbying House members; the nature of leadership meetings under Reagan and George H.W. Bush; evaluation of Everett Dirksen, Hugh Scott, Howard Baker, Robert Byrd; the federal grant to The Dirksen Congressional Center; the 1952 Republican National Convention; Michel’s relationships with Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, and Richard Nixon; congressional action on the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act; Michel contrasted his style with that of Newt Gingrich; the proper role for government.
Post-Congressional. Subjects. Interviews (1). Interviewed by Reed Penny, One Cent Productions LLC for The Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, October 8, 2007. Topics: Assessments of party leaders including Sam Rayburn, Joseph Martin, and Charles Halleck; Speaker Rayburn’s conduct of House business; the 1961 fight over the House Rules Committee; Rayburn’s Board of Education, which Michel attended with Leslie Arends on occasion.
Post-Congressional. Subjects. Interviews (2). Interviewed by Fred W. Beuttler, U.S. House Oral History Project, October 17, 2007 [This folder contains copies of the four other oral histories in this project described as Collection 153—this fifth interview was not included in that collection]. Topics: Referring to a diagram of the House chamber, Michel described his whip operation, including the use of official objectors; Michel’s leadership on the Reagan tax and economic program (“those were my most exhilarating days as leader”); the inside story on the Gramm-Latta bill; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (civil rights not an issue in Michel’s district at the time) and House Republicans; the “nuclear freeze” issue; Democratic opposition to Reagan’s defense build-up; issues surrounding Michel’s 1982 reelection; Michel’s relationship with the Reagan administration’s congressional liaison team; Republican strategy on a crime bill.
Post-Congressional. Subjects. Interviews (3). Duplicates of the oral histories contained in Collection 153.
153 Michel, Robert H., Oral History Transcripts, 2007
Fred W. Beuttler, Deputy Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives, conducted four interviews with Robert H. Michel in September and October 2007. In addition to Beuttler and Michel, Billy Pitts, a former staff member to Michel, sat in on the interviews and contributed information.
Session 1, September 5, 2007 (30 pages). Topics: military service; position with Congressman Harold Velde; Velde and the House Un-American Activities Committee; Michel’s early committee assignments; elections of 1956 and 1958; office culture; comments on individuals, e.g., Joe Martin, Les Arends, Charles Halleck, and others; offer to Michel to join the Nixon administration; Michel letter to Dwight Eisenhower, ca. 1952; Republican Convention of 1952; Michel’s political philosophy as a conservative; 1964 campaign for Goldwater; Corrine Michel; and the logistics of travel to the home district
Session 2, September 5, 2007 (12 pages). Topics: comments by Bill Pitts on his family’s ties to Congress; Charlie Halleck after losing leadership and Michel-instigated rule change re committees; Pitts on becoming a Hill staffer; five-minutes, impact of technology, and the lack of debate compared to days past; different methods of voting before technology; the Michel family homes in the early years
Session 3, September 6, 2007 (41 pages). Topics: Michel’s early moves towards leadership positions [he was elected president of his freshman class]; Michel as head of the Congressional Campaign Committee and losses in 1974; Les Arends’s approach to the job of whip; Tom Foley’s approach to leadership; Gerald Ford’s challenge to Charlie Halleck in 1965; Republican caucus rule change to permit leaders to return to committees if defeated; Michel’s belief after 1964 that Republicans should offer alternatives, not just vote “no”; Michel never advertised his association with “young turks” who backed Ford, although Michel also supported Ford; Michel and Donald Rumsfeld, Charles Goodell, and Mel Laird; Michel’s philosophy of leadership—adversaries, not enemies; Nixon’s election and impact on Republicans in the House; nature of divided government; Michel on Appropriations and efforts to reduce the cost of government, e.g., Michel amendment to cut funds from HEW; Michel’s “happiest days” were during the first Reagan administration when, with only 192 members, he was able to pass the Reagan program on about 7 consecutive votes with only a 3 or 4 vote margin; Michel’s innovations as whip, replacing Arends; television in the House—Michel’s reservations; Tip O’Neill incident in 1982; meeting with Gorbachev in the Kremlin; Michel’s relationship with Democratic leaders, e.g., Jim Wright reneging on promise for a Republican amendment; the task of passing Reagan legislative program with 192 Republicans; the budget reconciliation process and Michel’s role in the Gramm-Latta dispute at time Reagan was recuperating from an assassination attempt; 1982 campaign; intra-staff conflicts in the George H.W. Bush administration; Michel’s approach to leadership during the Clinton administration
Session 4, October 15, 2007 (42 pages) [Billy Pitts speaks often, as an aid to Michel’s memory]. Topics: Michel as whip; observations on colleagues, e.g., Tom Loeffler and Dick Cheney; Contra aid issue; tax bill negotiations at Andrews Air Force base; Gingrich’s role; split in Republican leadership ranks; selection of Dan Quayle as vice presidential candidate—Michel “flabbergasted”; Bush a weaker candidate and president than Reagan; the Clinton administration not as bad for Michel as he initially thought; NAFTA and Hillary’s health care plan and the Republican response; importance of being for something, not just against everything; the honorarium issue and pay raise issues; relationship with Tom Foley; Michel as more conservative than Gingrich; committee ratios; how did Michel decide whom to appoint to committees?; House Bank scandal and House; House Post Office scandal and other scandals; Michel’s parents’ views on his going into politics; “middle aisle caucus” as an effort to restore civility; Dirksen anecdotes
Oral History Collections
Oral History with Leslie C. Arends
46 Arends, Leslie Cornelius (1895-1985), Collection, 1981
Arends was the longest-serving whip in U.S. House of Representatives history, ranking second in the party in the House. He alternately served as majority whip and minority whip for House Republicans from 1943 to 1974. A 44-page transcript of an interview with Arends conducted by Frederick C. Drake on February 13, 1981 dealt with the following subjects, among others: Arends’s career in the House; campaigns; the Taft-Hartley Act; his position as minority whip; Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Everett Dirksen, John Kennedy, and other Congress members; Arends’s political philosophy; and foreign affairs.