Pat Williams Interview, September 24, 2014


Pat Williams


Donna McCrea



Download Audio Interview (73.4 MB)

Download Transcript of Pat Williams Interview (293 KB)


Pat Williams recalls his battle to obtain funding for the National Endowment for the Arts during his career as a United States senator from Montana. He describes serving on the Select Education subcommittee of the Education Committee from 1979-1997, and fighting to preserve the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding in the 1980s and 1990s, beginning with the Reagan Administration. Williams discusses reworking obscenity language in the NEA reauthorization bill in 1989, and creating language to mandate quality over content, including Supreme Court-mandated definitions of profanity and obscenity. He talks about various senators with whom he worked on arts funding, and several artists whose works prompted scrutiny of NEA funding. Williams discusses constituents’ reactions to the NEA and freedom of speech in the United States.


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Document Type

Oral History


Andrew Serrano; Robert Mapplethorpe; National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; Scott Tyler; Chicago Institute of Art; Corcoran gallery; Jesse Helms; Art Alliance; Williams Art Summit; Tom Coleman; Shakespeare in the Park; Clairborne Pell; Rick Gerough; freedom of speech; obscenity; profanity; Brooklyn Museum; Chris Oflili; Rudy Giuliani

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage




Original Collection

Montana Politics and Politicians Oral History Collection, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula

Digital Publisher

University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library


Copyright to this collection is held by the interview participants and by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula. Permission may be required for use. For further information please contact Archives and Special Collections: (406) 243-2053 /

Oral History Number

OH 442-001

Media Type

Sound; Text

Original Format

1 sound file (00:50:22 min.) digital + 1 transcript (10 p.: 28 cm.)

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

00:50:22 minutes

Local Filename

OH_442_001.mp3; OH_442_001.pdf

Pat Williams Interview, September 24, 2014