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Oral History Program

Presidents' Oral Histories

 Black, Eugene R., 1949-1962

 McNamara, Robert S., 1968-1981 

 Clausen, Alden W., 1981-1986 

 Wolfensohn, James, D., 1995-2005

The Oral History program at the World Bank began in 1961 as a historical project to record a series of interviews with present and former members of the Bank staff. Its original purpose was to build an “institutional memory” for future scholarly study of the Bank's history and operations. This purpose has been expanded to include guidance to current staff based on experience of former Bank staff.

The interviews provide glimpses into the complexity of the World Bank's evolution since the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. They were conducted to capture firsthand accounts of important events and experiences from those who observed and participated in them and, in some instances, supplemented with personal and anecdotal material. The interviews serve as learning histories and knowledge tools for the Bank, researchers in many fields as well as partners and clients of the Bank interested in learning more about its development practices and policies.

The interviews also served as a major source of information for several publications on the World Bank's history. This collection comprises interviews conducted with more than 140 Bank staff.

The opinions, findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in these oral histories do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Bank Group, its Executive Directors or the governments they represent. The World Bank does not guarantee the accuracy of the information included in this work.


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