The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives'
record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program
staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted
by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
James C. Bradley was interviewed for the Oral History Collection because of his central role in the Smithsonian administration for over twenty years.
Bradley was interviewed by Miriam S. Freilicher and Pamela M. Henson in nineteen sessions from 1974 to 1978. The interviews cover Bradley's career at the Smithsonian,
especially his administrative, fiscal, and legislative responsibilities for programs and capital improvements.
James C. Bradley (1910-1984) was a Smithsonian administrator responsible for planning and development of programs and facilities. After receiving a B.S. in civil engineering
from the Catholic University of America in 1931, he served as an engineering administrator for the District of Columbia Government from 1935 to 1945. He worked as a budget
and legislative analyst in the Bureau of the Budget from 1945 to 1950. Bradley then joined the Department of the Interior as principal assistant to the Under Secretary from
1950 to 1953, and as engineering and administrative assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior from 1953 to 1959.
In 1959, Bradley came to the Smithsonian as Assistant to the Secretary and in 1960 he was appointed Assistant Secretary. Bradley was responsible for administrative, fiscal,
and legislative planning for the Institution. His special responsibilities included securing legislation authorizing a National Portrait Gallery (NPG); securing authorizations
and appropriations to renovate the Fine Arts and Portrait Galleries; securing appropriations for the wings of the Natural History Building; securing appropriations for a National
Air and Space Museum (NASM); establishing administrative procedures for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO); securing legislation and appropriations for the capital
improvement program for the National Zoological Park (NZP); securing authorizing legislation and appropriations for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (HMSG); preparing
Congressional testimony; negotiating the Hillwood bequest; establishing the Office of Audits; and securing a site, authorization, and appropriations for a Museum Support Center.
Bradley received a Smithsonian Achievement Award in 1963 and the Smithsonian Exceptional Service Award in 1966. When the Board of Regents created the title of Under Secretary
in 1970, Bradley assumed that position. After his retirement in 1972, he continued to serve the Institution as Consultant to the Secretary for Management and Planning and
was an honorary Research Associate of the Institution until his death.