Collective Memory Project

The Collective Memory Project (CMP) is an ongoing oral history project, dedicated to enhancing the historical and archival record of various presidential administrations, beginning with the presidency of George W. Bush.  

The Transition



This project features more than 700 documents produced by members of the National Security Council under George W. Bush as they handed off critical information to the incoming administration of Barack Obama in January 2009. These documents include information regarding Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and other international affairs and positions.


U.S.-Russian Relations under Bush and Putin

This oral history records both American and Russian perspectives on political, economic, diplomatic, and military developments in the first decade of this century as a way of furthering our understanding of the current state of U.S-Russian relations. While in the past decade U.S.-Russian relations have been contentious, this was not always the reality. From their first meeting in 2001, the rapport between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush was obvious for all to see. Yet, despite good personal relations at the presidential level, by 2009 the relationship between the United States and Russia had deteriorated and has never recovered.



An Oral History of Walter LaFeber

In this oral history, the stories of those who were taught and mentored by Walter LaFeber will be shared. LaFeber was one of America’s most distinguished historians. He was a prize-winning scholar whose insightful accounts of U.S. relations with Russia, Central America, and Japan and best-selling textbook, The American Age, became “must-reads” in history courses across the country.


"The Last Card in the Deck:"

The Decision to Surge in Iraq


This project explores George W. Bush's decision-making process on his way toward announcing the order to surge American military forces in Iraq in January 2007. The commander in chief spent most of 2006 gathering information, intelligence, and advice from an array of government and non-governmental sources. Our team interviewed more than two dozen of these people from the Department of State, Department of Defense, National Security Council, White House staff, Congress, and more. Click here to explore the videos and transcriptions for this project.


Transatlantic Diplomacy after 9/11: The U.S. and Norway


These interviews with many of Norway’s policy-makers, security experts, and diplomats seek to answer how Norway navigated the rough trans-Atlantic waters and tricky European cross-currents in the early and mid-2000s. In doing so, they also further understanding of the impact of US foreign policy at home and abroad.



The Election of 2004


The project explores the oft-overlooked, yet pivotal election cycle of 2004. The CPH focuses on key subjects and events from the times, and explores those in-depth through interviews with people from both within and outside of the administration.

As we develop a new web-presence for our Collective Memory Project, you can view this Election of 2004 project on the following interim site:

Faith and the Presidency

Even as the United States upholds a tradition of separating the powers of church and state, religion continues to plays a role in all political affairs. This was certainly the case during the presidency of George W. Bush. will explore the role of religion during the Bush administration by recording the stories and perspectives of people who can speak on subjects ranging from the President’s personal faith background, to the role of religion in shaping both domestic and foreign policy.



Judicial Nominations and the Department of Justice

In this project, the stories of people who, during the George W. Bush administration, entered office with an organized and precise plan for nominating and confirming judges to federal benches, including that of the Supreme Court, are shared. Included are voices from the White House, the Department of Justice, and private-sector advisors to and observers of the process.


The First Lady and the East Wing


The Office of the First Lady plays a unique role during any presidential administration. The First Lady is not elected by the people, and holds no executive power, and yet, she undeniably exerts influence on the President and policy. This project examines the office of First Lady Laura Bush and the influence of the East Wing during the George W. Bush presidency.



Post-9/11 Policy in East and Southeast Asia

The attacks of September 11, 2002 made East and Southeast Asia a second front in President Bush's "War on Terror." This complicated the United States' relationship with East and Southeast Asia, adding efforts to combat Islamic extremism and support democratic development to already-existing concerns over regional security and rising economic rivalry. Click here to watch interview videos and further explore this project. 

Home and Abroad

This collection will include the voices of American ambassadors around the world, as well as representatives of foreign governments with whom the United States had dealings during the George W. Bush administration. As diplomacy is one of the most important tools that an American president can wield, how each president has chosen to practice diplomacy has shaped his legacy. In recognition of the powerful role of diplomacy in the George W. Bush administration, the Center for Presidential aims to collect the memories, stories, and perspectives of leaders, both at home and abroad.  

The United States and Latin America

Eight years removed from the end of Bush’s term in office, this oral history project revisits Latin America’s role in U.S. foreign policy during the Bush administration, re-evaluating the notion that the region became irrelevant. Throughout Bush’s two terms, Latin America remained a region of challenge and opportunity for the Bush administration. Hugo Chavez’s campaign to displace U.S. hegemony caused ripples throughout the hemisphere, affecting U.S. relations in places like Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil. While the Bush administration sought to expand free trade throughout the hemisphere, closer to home it dealt with the political repercussions of Northward-flowing immigration and an expanding cross-border drug trade.