A Conversation with Priscila Pivatto (History of Parliament) and Donald Ritchie (Senate Historical Office)
It may seem strange to investigate the lives of politicians by using oral history – more often used to gather source material for groups who have ‘no voice’. After all, don’t we know what politicians’ lives were like in the 20th century? We have official statements, voting records, press reports, television reports, gossip and satire. Yet, the Senate Historical Office and the History of Parliament oral history projects have been collecting interviews with US Senators and Members of the UK Parliament to reflect on their lives and to give their impressions on the institutions they were part of. There are certainly particular issues and challenges hard to overcome that emerge from interviewing those who are so used to being under public scrutiny. The narratives, however, reveal unique perspectives about political institutions and different experiences of being a mainstream politician.