Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with Jack Robertson
- 1988-11-07 - 1988-12-30 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet 14 audiocassettes (13 hr., 4 min., 49 sec.)
Name of creator
John "Jack" Strait Robertson was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1949. He studied international relations at Stanford University and graduated in 1972. During his senior year at Stanford, he met Debra J. Cutler and they married in 1975; they later had one child. After graduating, he volunteered for U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield's 1972 re-election campaign. He was a legislative assistant and press secretary for Hatfield from 1973 to 1982. He worked for the Bonneville Power Administration from 1986 to 1999, serving as deputy administrator for a time. He graduated from the Stanford Executive Program at the Graduate School of Business in 1990. In 2010, he became CEO and co-founder of Light Water Inc.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
This oral history interview with Jack Robertson was conducted by Clark Hansen in Robertson's office at the Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon, from November 7 to December 30, 1988. In this interview, Robertson discusses his family background and early life in Portland, including the evolution of his political beliefs. He then talks about attending Stanford University, including studying abroad in Austria. He focuses particularly on student protests against the Vietnam War.
Robertson talks about joining U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield's staff in 1973, after he worked as a volunteer for Hatfield's 1972 re-election campaign. He describes Hatfield's campaign against Wayne Morse. He then talks about his duties as a legislative aide, and later press secretary, from 1973 to 1982, including speechwriting, research, and correspondence. He discusses Hatfield's relationship with other Oregon Republican politicians, including Tom McCall and Bob Packwood. He speaks at length about other members of Hatfield's staff and how Hatfield interacted with them. He also discusses speeches that he wrote for Hatfield, including some on topics such as the Middle East and refugees. He also talks about Hatfield's early use of computers in his office; some of Hatfield's legislative victories in the Senate Appropriations Committee; and Hatfield's personality. Robertson talks about working on legislation to freeze the creation of nuclear weapons. He speaks at length about the procedures of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He discusses Hatfield's relationship with the Republican Party; other senators and political figures; the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan; and the press. He also talks about a real estate scandal that affected Hatfield in 1984. He speaks at length about how Hatfield's personal morality influenced his votes on legislation, particularly regarding weapons and war. He describes the Northwest Power Planning Act, as well as Hatfield's views on nuclear power; the debate about funding for a neutron bomb; and Hatfield's foreign policy stances, particularly regarding Israel, Iran, and Panama. He also describes Hatfield's and his staff's reactions to Watergate; Hatfield's visit with Mother Theresa; Hatfield's efforts to locate soldiers missing in action in Vietnam; and chemical weapons in Oregon. He discusses Hatfield's stance on free trade, local government, and environmental issues. Robertson talks about how the Senate and Hatfield changed over the years. He closes the interview by discussing Hatfield's legacy, his own reasons for leaving Hatfield's staff, and his activities since then.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society and Willamette University. Use is allowed according to the following license: Creative Commons - BY-NC-SA: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
Conditions governing reproduction
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Jack Robertson, by Clark Hansen, SR 1342, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the Senator Mark O. Hatfield Oral History Project.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.