Out from the Archives: Slaying the Dragon of Debt

Slaying the Dragon of Debt: OHC’s Look into Federal Budgets from the 1960s into the 2000s.

Debt and deficits, budget reconciliation, CBO scoring. These arcana have again appeared at the forefront of social media feeds and on the front pages of newspapers as Congress and the White House attempt to pass the new President’s agenda while figuring out how to pay for it.

Back in 2010, OHC director Martin Meeker and then-postdoc scholar Patrick Sharma embarked on a brief but intensive oral history project — that we called “Slaying the Dragon of Debt” — exploring the recent history of federal debt and deficits. The central question asked at the beginning of the project went something like this: how was it that after running deficits for over 25 years, the federal government was able to produce a budget surplus in 1998 and every year until 2001, when we returned to deficits? As the project progressed, plenty of other questions were asked as well: Can the surpluses be attributable to President Clinton’s fiscal policies? To the belt-tightening mandated by Congressional Republicans? To the monetary policies of Alan Greenspan’s Fed? To broader economic trends, such as the dot.com boom? To something else entirely? To all of the above?  

As we enter into a new fiscal regime, we think it is useful to return to our project on debt and deficits and attempt to seek insights into the complex workings of federal fiscal and monetary policy and how those policies are influenced by profound political shifts , warring parties, and memorable characters. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is now brought under criticism by the White House Office of Management and Budget, we want to know how have those offices worked together — or against one another — in the past. Has the work of CBO always been politicized and if so, how? Is the kind of rhetoric we hear today something entirely new or is it just another chapter in the decade’s long battles around government spending?

This project featured interviews with several former directors of the CBO, including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, June O’Neill, Rudolph Penner, Robert Reischauer, and Alice Rivlin. The project also includes interviews with a handful of former OMB directors, including: James McIntyre, Jim Miller, and, again, Alice Rivlin. Perhaps among the most revealing interviews are those with key staffers who worked behind the scenes, crafting legislation, and making policy. We recommend reading through the oral histories with Bill Hoagland, who served as staff director for the Senate Budget Committee from 1986 to 2003, and Joseph Minarik, who was the chief economist at the OMB throughout Clinton’s two terms. Let us know what you think!

“Painted Nails” screens on April 5 in Movies @ Moffitt

Painted Nails Movie Poster

Painted Nails is directed by Erica Jordan and Dianne Griffin

After learning that her work has caused her life-threatening health problems, Vietnamese immigrant Van Nguyen, a San Francisco nail salon owner, becomes a resolute activist in the fight to regulate chemicals in personal care products, advocating for the safety of nail salon workers and their clientele, both at the local level and in Washington DC.

Wednesday, April 5
Doors @ 6:30pm, show @ 7:00pm
405 Moffitt Undergraduate Library
Free; open to UCB students only (UCB student ID required).
Movies @ Moffitt happens on the first Wednesday of each month of the semester.

Library Tours!

Doe Library Entrance
April is a month when students and families visit campus, trying to decide if Cal will be their future home. If you are are visiting campus, you are encouraged to come see the the Library. UC Berkeley Libraries provide key tools and materials for academic inquiry and are an integral part of campus life.

Library tours of the historic Doe Library, underground Main stacks, and newly renovated Moffitt Undergraduate Library are given every Monday and Friday in April. From 3-4pm, they start on the north steps of the Doe Library. You are encouraged to sign up as space is limited.

Cal libraries are generally open to the public (see the library hours). Staff at the entrance to Doe Library, can also provide a visitor’s guide for those wishing to pursue self-guided exploration of this central campus library.

Sign up here!

Cliff Dochterman: A Rotarian’s Pursuit of Happiness through Service

It’s with great pleasure that we announce the publication of Cliff Dochterman’s oral history; Cliff Dochterman: A Rotarian’s Pursuit of Happiness through Service.” A former Rotary International President (1992-1993), Dochterman is best known for jumpstarting the PolioPlus program that immunized over 2.5 billion children around the world and his ability to raise millions of dollars for refugees during the Yugoslav Wars. Dochterman is credited as for helping Rotary International realize its potential as a global philanthropic and service organization. His decades-long dedication to Rotary International, Boy Scouts of America, higher education administration both here at the University of California and at the University of the Pacific demonstrate his gift for fundraising and his unwavering commitment to service.

Given everything Dochterman has done for the Rotary world, it’s hard to believe that Dochterman was initially rejected from the Berkeley Rotary Club. A young University of California administrator and assistant to UC President Clark Kerr, Dochterman finally gained acceptance into the Berkeley Rotary Club after a third nomination. Shortly after joining the club, he became Berkeley’s Club President and then the local District Governor and member of various international committees. Of course, his meteoric rise comes as no surprise to those that know Cliff Dochterman personally.

As the current Rotary International President, John Germ, aptly notes in the introduction to Dochterman’s oral history, “Cliff is an individual who is a role model for individuals who desire to create a better world.  As a Rotarian, Scout leader and a dedicated American, he has led by example always putting others above himself. His joyful disposition has brought great success in motivating others to community service. We are all better because we have had the opportunity to serve with him and to know him.”

Cliff Dochterman’s oral history is part of the OHC’s larger Philanthropy collection. We highly encourage all those interested in learning more about the dynamic history of Rotary International to read Cliff Dochterman: A Rotarian’s Pursuit of Happiness through Service.”


Moffitt Library 4th Floor Terrace Closure, March 27-31

View from Moffitt Library

The Moffitt fourth floor terrace will be closed during the week of March 27-31. This includes the fourth floor entrance to Moffitt Library. Please enter on the third floor of Moffitt next week to access all levels. 

The terrace will be closed as part of the terrace remodeling project. Construction crews will be jackhammering throughout the week. We anticipate this work to be loud and expect that vibrations could be felt throughout the building. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.   

Cairn ebooks


The Library will have trial access through April 15 to the complete collection of ebooks on Cairn, an online platform for interdisciplinary journals and books published in France and Belgium. Some representative publishers include Presses Universitaires de France, Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, Presses de Science Po, Le Seuil, Tallandier,  La Découverte, Karthala, De Boeck Supérieur, Picard, Kimé, and more.

Cairn.info, created in 2005 by a small group of publishers, offers the most comprehensive collection of journals available online in the French language. The project, supported by the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Centre national du livre, makes available an increasing number of scholarly journals and now books in the various fields of the humanities and social sciences.

Feedback can be sent to cpotts [at] berkeley.edu.

Art History/Classics Library Spring Break Hours

Marble relief of Hermes, three nymphs, and Acheloös, ca. 320–300 B.C. (Metropolitan Museum of Art 25.78.59)

Marble relief of Hermes, three nymphs, and Acheloös, ca. 320–300 B.C. (Metropolitan Museum of Art 25.78.59)

We wish our Classics community a pleasant Spring Break wherever their travels may take them.

The Art History/Classics Library’s Spring Break hours are as follows:

Saturday, March 25th & Sunday, March 26th:  Closed

Monday, March 27th through Thursday, March 30th : 1-5pm

Friday, March 31st through Sunday, April 2nd: Closed

Regular library hours resume Monday, April 3rd.

The History of Higher Education in California: A Big Data Approach

Thursday, April 6
10am -11:30am
180 Doe Library

Zack BleemerZach Bleemer discusses how he used data science — thousands of computer-processed versions of annual registers, directories, and catalogs —  to reconstruct a near-complete database of all students, faculty, and courses at four-year universities in California in the first half of the 20th century, including the UC system. Visualizations of this database display the expansion of higher education into rural California communities, the rise and fall of various academic departments and disciplines, and the slow (and still-incomplete) transition towards egalitarian major selection.

Zach will also discuss his recent CSHE Working Paper, in which he uses additional digitized records to analyze the social impact of the early 20th century’s expansion of female high school science teachers and female doctors across rural California communities. He finds that newly-arrived female STEM professionals serve as important role models for young women in these rural communities, causing substantial increases in female college-going. However, these young women are no more likely to study STEM fields or become doctors themselves. He is currently extending these results to estimate ethnicity-based role model effects.
Zach Bleemer is a PhD student in Economics and Research Associate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, where his research examines the educational and occupational decisions of young Americans. He has previously held senior research analyst positions at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Mathematica Policy Research, and has published studies of student debt, parental coresidence, and university attendance. He is also currently a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and a Graduate Intern at the UC Office of the President.

North American mega-regional print book collections


This map from a 2012 report titled Print Management at “Mega-scale”: A Regional Perspective on Print Book Collections in North America indirectly relates to books and journals in the Romance languages but I thought it might be educational to share since so much of our daily cooperative collection building decisions fit into this framework. It visualizes how shared research library collections coincide with the emergence of mega-regions, or geographical regions defined on the basis of economic integration and other forms of interdependence. For those of us who work in the library, it reinforces the role that research libraries like UCB, UCD, UCSC and Stanford play at the national level and how paramount it is for us to continue to strive together for robust and comprehensive regional collections so that we can support the current and future research and teaching needs at one another’s campuses and beyond.

New Books in Art History

You can find these titles and other recent acquisitions on the Art History and Classics Library’s New Book Shelf.






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Edit Wikipedia tomorrow in Moffitt 405! Drop in any time 1-6pm or attend a workshop. t.co/8kwR1yFjGG

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"Open access will have a direct impact on Berkeley researchers. It provides an enhanced ability for faculty to... t.co/4Sa9NSk5Xc

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What could be better than books — and food? Join us to celebrate both on April 10. t.co/5d20NeRimr

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Live @ Hertz Hall with Senator Barbara Boxer for "An Election Like No Other and What Lies Ahead" t.co/cbI4qFYUAU

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Drop in Moffitt Library on Tuesday, March 21 from 1-6pm for a communal updating of Wikipedia entries. We will... t.co/fZ3W6nLEtL