New York’s Columbia Center for Oral History Research at Columbia University has been selected to conduct the official oral history of the Obama presidency, according to the foundation, while UH and the University of Chicago will collect oral histories that document the pre-presidential lives of Barack and Michelle Obama.
President Obama was born in Hawaii, where he spent most of his childhood and graduated from Punahou School.
“Michelle Obama famously observed, ‘You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii,’”said UH President David Lassner in a news release. “UH and our extraordinary Center for Oral History are looking forward to exploring those early days with those who were part of President Obama’s story.”
The Obama Presidency Oral History Project will conduct interviews with roughly 400 people, starting this summer and over the next five years, including senior leaders and policy makers within the administration, as well as elected officials, campaign staff, journalists and other key figures. The project will also examine Michelle Obama’s legacy as First Lady.
“We are grateful to the universities of Hawaii and Chicago for participating and ensuring that the important work that preceded President and Mrs. Obama’s time in the White House is integrated into this project,” said David Simas, chief executive officer of the Obama Foundation, in a statement.
The oral histories are expected to be publicly available online and on-site at Columbia no later than 2026.