Editor and activist

Editor and activist

The Miller Center's Gail Hyder Wiley is an editor who also works for social change

[Read the full story at UVA Today]

At the heart of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs—tucked away in sealed boxes and on its secure servers—are thousands upon thousands of pages of transcription, each one holding the memories, insights, and reflections of former presidents and the officials that made their administrations tick.

Gail Hyder Wiley is one of the custodians of this extraordinary repository of modern American government—and that is just one of her roles in the Charlottesville community.

Wiley, a UVA alumna and parent of a UVA graduate, is the editor of the Miller Center’s Presidential Oral History Program, which conducts interviews with former presidents and White House officials and compiles them into oral histories available for researchers and the public. So far, the program has done or is in the process of compiling oral histories and interviews from the Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations, as well as a special oral history with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Outside of work, Wiley is a leader in the Charlottesville community, spearheading programs like CAR2Vote, a nonpartisan, ride-to-the-polls service she co-founded with fellow UVA employee Sarah Sawtelle; and working with CIRAC, the Charlottesville-area Immigrant Resource and Advocacy Coalition. There, Wiley coordinates rides to court for immigrants pursuing asylum cases, welcomes immigrants as they arrive in Charlottesville, and provides resources connecting them to other nonprofits in the community.

We sat down with her to learn more about her work at UVA and in Charlottesville.

Q. What are your primary responsibilities as editor of the Presidential Oral History Program? 

A. I have been a full-time editor since 2016 and worked with the program as a freelancer for 10 years before that. Our freelancers check the interview transcripts to make sure they are accurately transcribed, which is what I started out doing. Now, I supervise that and edit the transcripts for style and clarity before sending them to the interviewee for corrections or additions. That’s something many people don’t understand about oral history—it is perfectly okay to have the subject of the interview augment a transcript, if they remember something they did not say or want to clarify something. That becomes part of the record, and my job is to keep track of those changes. It might be interesting to a historian later.

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