About the Gerald Ford Oral History

About the Gerald Ford Oral History

The Miller Center's Presidential Oral History Program began in 1977 with a group of Ford White House staffers just coming out of service at the start of the Carter administration. The conversations that took place were published in the 1986 book, The Ford White House, but never found their way online. This new digital edition of The Ford White House rounds out the Miller Center's presidential oral history collection. It includes new comments from three participants whose voices were not present in the 1986 edition. In addition, it provides fresh perspective on Ford alumni who went on to hold some of the highest offices in subsequent presidential administrations. Discussing the effectiveness of the executive office and political challenges of the day, The Ford White House is a time capsule that resonates in the present.

Preface from the 1986 Edition

On April 23, 1977, a conference on the administration of President Gerald R. Ford was held at the White Burkett Miller Center of Public Affairs. Under the chairmanship of the late Professor Herbert Storing, then the newly appointed Director of the Center's Program on the Presidency, a full day was devoted to informal conversation among key Ford White House staff members, associates of the Miller Center, and members of the University of Virginia community.

At that time there were no plans to publish the proceedings, which were intended to educate the conference participants-both scholars and practitioners-about the Ford presidency. In that regard the conference was extremely successful and is remembered by many participants as an unusually frank and serious discussion between those who have worked in the White House and those who have studied it.

During the next few years many of the people familiar with this project urged the Center to publish the Ford White House transcript as a tribute to Professor Storing, who died several months after the conference was held, and as a valuable document on the modern American presidency. As Herbert Storing's successor at the Miller Center, I got in touch with the conferees and asked their permission to publish the conference discussions. Each of the Ford Administration conferees was given the opportunity to review his statements in the transcript, and to make such corrections and editorial changes as were deemed appropriate. Three members of the Ford White House staff asked that their comments not be published; and their remarks, and references to them have been deleted from the transcript. [Editor's note: Permission was received to restore the comments of Jerry H. Jones, John D. Marsh Jr., and Paul H. O'Neill in the digital edition.] Where such deletions have interrupted the flow of conversation, asterisks have been used to indicate a change in the subject under discussion. Several participants made minor editorial changes in their remarks which have been incorporated into this version. Others elected to leave their comments exactly as they were originally transcribed. Passages that were inaudible to the transcriber or speakers who could not be identified have been noted in the text.

In the short time he was associated with the Miller Center and in his long career as an educator and scholar, Herbert Storing made many friends and a lasting contribution to the study of American politics and the American presidency. This book is dedicated to his memory.

James Sterling Young



Ford White House Staff

Participants from the University of Virginia

  • Dennis W. Barnes
  • Frans R. Bax
  • Joseph M. Bessette
  • James W. Ceaser
  • Paul T. David
  • Laurin L. Henry
  • David C. Jordan
  • John B. Keeley 
  • Frederick E. Nolting Jr.
  • Steven E. Rhoads
  • David A. Shannon
  • Herbert Stein
  • Herbert J. Storing