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Betty Currie

President Bill Clinton’s personal secretary Betty Currie was born Betty Grace Williams on November 10, 1939, in Edwards, Mississippi. Soon after her birth, Currie’s parents, Theodore R. and Vivian U. Williams moved with their nine children to Waukegan, Illinois. She attended McAllister Elementary School on Waukegan’s Southside. Graduating from Waukegan Township High School’s business course in 1957, Currie found clerical employment at the nearby U. S. Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, Illinois.

Following a move to Washington, D.C., Currie worked for the U. S. Navy Department, U. S. Postal Service Headquarters, U. S. Agency for International Development, U. S. Peace Corps/Action, and U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Always striving, Currie completed special training by the U. S. Department of Agriculture and was enrolled at Howard University, American University and Antioch College.

Retiring from government service in 1984, Currie volunteered for Operation Rescue, the United Way, the Commission on the Status of Women, and Rainbow Christian Services. Currie also volunteered for the failed Democratic presidential campaigns of Mondale/Ferraro in 1984 and the Dukakis/Bentsen ticket of 1988. She hesitantly joined the Clinton/Gore campaign in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1991, where she served with James Carville in the “war room”.

Following Bill Clinton’s 1992 election to the presidency, Currie was chosen to serve as his personal secretary in the White House. She served throughout both of Clinton’s terms. In this capacity, Currie coordinated the Presidents communications including phone calls, letters, e-mails, coordinating appointments and greeted all visitors. Meeting heroes like Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks compensated for the long hours. In 1997, Currie testified before the special prosecutor’s investigation of the Clinton/Lewinsky affair amidst a frenzy of media attention. Described by journalist and colleagues as truthful, she still retains her association with the Clinton family.

Currie, finally retired at the time of her interview, lives in suburban Maryland with her husband and “Socks”, Chelsea Clinton’s White House cat. She has a grown daughter.

Accession Number

A2004.066

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/8/2004

Last Name

Currie

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

McAllister Elementary School

Waukegan High School

First Name

Betty

Birth City, State, Country

Edwards

HM ID

CUR01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Boston, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Yes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/10/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Presidential secretary Betty Currie (1939 - ) was President Bill Clinton's personal secretary. Currie also volunteered for the Democratic presidential campaigns of Mondale/Ferraro in 1984 and Dukakis/Bentsen in 1988. She joined the Clinton/Gore campaign in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1991, where she served with James Carville in the “war room.”

Employment

United States Navy

United States Postal Service

United States Agency for International Development

United States Peace Corps

United States Department of Health and Human Services

White House

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6001">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Betty Currie interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6002">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Betty Currie's favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6003">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Betty Currie describes her mother's background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6004">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Betty Currie remembers her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6005">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Betty Currie recalls how her parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6006">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Betty Currie remembers her grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6007">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Betty Currie names her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6008">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Betty Currie describes her childhood environs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6009">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Betty Currie describes her early involvement in the church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6010">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Betty Currie describes her childhood personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6011">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Betty Currie recalls her school years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6012">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Betty Currie remembers media in the late 1950s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6013">Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Betty Currie describes her high school social life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6014">Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Betty Currie discusses her early career aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6015">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Betty Currie remembers the failure of college counselors to encourage her</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6016">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Betty Currie recalls a high school mentor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6017">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Betty Currie recounts forgoing college to work at Great Lakes Naval Base</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6018">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Betty Currie describes her exposure to news as a youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6019">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Betty Currie remembers life in segregated Washington D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6020">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Betty Currie shares anecdotes from her early career in Washington D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6021">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Betty Currie relates when she noticed her political affiliation shifting left</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6022">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Betty Currie remembers her years with the Peace Corps</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6023">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Betty Currie recalls her work on several presidential campaigns</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6024">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Betty Currie regrets not graduating from college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6025">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Betty Currie shares her concerns about economic policy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6026">Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Betty Currie explains her motivation for working on Democratic presidential campaigns</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6027">Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Betty Currie briefly discusses working on Bill Clinton's presidential campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6028">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Betty Currie details her days with the 1992 Clinton Presidential campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6029">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Betty Currie describes life in the 'War Room' with campaign director James Carville</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6030">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Betty Currie remembers the 1992 Clinton campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6031">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Betty Currie relates how she became President Clinton's personal secretary</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6032">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Betty Currie discusses the Oval Office staff</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6033">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Betty Currie recalls President Clinton's daily schedule</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6034">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Betty Currie shares some memories from the Oval Office</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6035">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bettie Currie discusses her daily ritual of going to work at the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6036">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Betty Currie recalls the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton's health plan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6037">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bettie Currie remembers incidents from President Clinton's first term</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6038">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Betty Currie reveals the sensitive nature of her position as Presidential Secretary</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6039">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Betty Currie recalls the 1996 re-election campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6040">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Betty Currie shares some memories from the second term in the Clinton White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6041">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Betty Currie details her perspective of the Monica Lewinsky travails, part I</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6042">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Betty Currie details the Monica Lewinsky travails, part II</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6043">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Betty Currie describes her public image during the Monica Lewinsky scandal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6044">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Betty Currie remembers the investigation of the Lewinsky scandal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6045">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Betty Currie recalls other figures from the Lewinsky scandal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6046">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Betty Currie recalls her disappointment in President Clinton's obfuscations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6047">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Betty Currie describes Hillary Clinton's reaction to President Clinton's infidelity</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6048">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Betty Currie remembers the last years of the Clinton administration</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6049">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Betty Currie offers some thoughts on Al Gore's presidential campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6050">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Betty Currie describes the last days of President Clinton's term</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6051">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Betty Currie shares anecdotes from some recent visits to the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6052">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Betty Currie notes changes in White House procedure since her tenure</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6053">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Betty Currie discusses her activities since leaving the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6054">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Betty Currie recalls meeting Nelson Mandela at the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6055">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Betty Currie discusses her relationships with President Clinton's friends and family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6056">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Betty Currie discusses her hopes and concerns for the black community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6057">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Betty Currie reflects on Bill Clinton's and George W. Bush's presidencies</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6058">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Betty Currie considers her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6059">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Betty Currie remembers the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6060">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Betty Currie sums up her White House experiences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6061">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Socks Clinton Currie</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6062">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Photo - Betty Currie's mother, Vivian Ercell Williams, ca. 1990</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6063">Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo - Betty Currie with her sister Esther, ca. 2000</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6064">Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo - Betty Currie with Nelson Mandela and President Bill Clinton at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1993</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6065">Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo - Betty Currie's high school photo, Waukegan, Illinois, 1957</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6066">Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo - Betty Currie's daughter Toni Mitchell, and niece Leslie</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6067">Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photos - Betty Currie's niece, Camilla</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6068">Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo - Betty Currie's sister, Iris Williams</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6069">Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo - Betty Currie's sister-in-law, Gladys Williams</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6070">Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo - Betty Currie and her daughter, Toni Mitchell</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6071">Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo - Betty Currie's brother Theodore Williams, and his daughter Camilla</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6072">Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo - Betty Currie's nieces and nephews</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6073">Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Photo - Betty Currie with sister Iris Williams and sister-in-law, Gladys Williams</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6074">Tape: 6 Story: 21 - Photo - Betty Currie's husband, Bob Currie, and niece, Leslie</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6075">Tape: 6 Story: 22 - Photo - Betty Currie's niece, Davie, ca.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6076">Tape: 6 Story: 23 - Photo - Betty Currie's niece, Davie</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6077">Tape: 6 Story: 24 - Photo - Betty Currie and her husband, Bob Currie</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6078">Tape: 6 Story: 25 - Photo - Betty Currie's mother, Vivian Ercell Williams</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6079">Tape: 6 Story: 26 - Photo - Betty Currie's sister Esther, brother-in-law Davy, and Carla Thomas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6080">Tape: 6 Story: 27 - Photo - Betty Currie's daughter, Toni Mitchell</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6081">Tape: 6 Story: 28 - Photo - Betty Currie's brother-in-law, James Hawkins</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6082">Tape: 6 Story: 29 - Photo - Betty Currie with her sister, Esther</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6083">Tape: 6 Story: 30 - Photo - Betty Currie's niece, Davie</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6084">Tape: 6 Story: 31 - Photo - Betty Currie's sister Esther, and sister-in-law Gladys Williams</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/6085">Tape: 6 Story: 32 - Photo - Betty Currie's great-nephew, Omar Ishmael</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Betty Currie shares some memories from the Oval Office
Betty Currie recalls meeting Nelson Mandela at the White House
Transcript
What are some of the memorable times that you--?$$Well, there are lot of, a lot of memories. You know, if I--well, I won't, but if I had ever decided to write a book, I wish I had written down some of the things on a daily basis. There were some goods times, and there were some bad times. There were some times that I felt totally out of it, I mean out of the loop, out of--not out of favor, but just out of what's happening. But, like when [Commerce Secretary] [Ronald Harmon] Ron Brown died [1996], that was historic, tragic, the whole thing. Every gamut of emotions went through that. And what happened, when I got to work there was a lot of, you know, whispering going on. And I said, "Is something wrong? " They said, "No, no." So I turned on channel four, NBC news. And they said, we're breaking news. We understand that Ron Brown's plane has crashed in surf of the sea, what--I forgot this country [Bosnia]. And, and I did like this--and I immediately called NSC [National Security Council]. I said, "Have you heard? They said, "Oh, is it out yet? I said, yes, it's on TV. So they were keeping it under cover. I think they wanted to verify that he had actually died in that, yeah. That was sad. Alexis Herman came by, and she had actually just cried on the President's [Bill Clinton] shoulder. When his mother died, it was also tragic. He had several, several close friends to die in office. When Vince Foster committed suicide, that was tragic, just so many things. When the plane crashed into the White House, the thing about that, I got to work that morning, and the body was still in there and everything. They finally took everything out. And they came to me, and said, Betty, you're gonna have to move. I said, "Pardon? " She said, "They found a package in the plane, and your windows aren't bulletproof." Now, the President's windows are bullet proof, but mine's weren't. I said, well, excuse me (laughs), so I left for a few minutes, and they decided the, the package was nothing that was going to explode. But I learned then, how much they cared about me (laughs).$$Did you get on the phone and order a bullet proof vest?$$(Laughs), no, I didn't. I was very, very cautious when I looked out, oh, yeah. But it's, it's just one of the most secured places because he is always accompanied by--this, this was before 9-11 [September 11 terrorist attacks, 2001], four to six secret service agents at all times. And whenever we had a crash, when somebody would jump the fence or something like that, they would surround him even more so--and just very, I thought very, very safe, except bombs bursting in.$In terms of the highlights and as far as you're concerned, and, you know, that you, the things that you remember? Is there a story or anything from the White House [Washington, D.C.] that, about a state dinner or something, an event or somebody's visit that stands out?$$[Nelson] Mandela's visit because when he came, that was, when everyone asks me, who's your favorite person you met? And I--bar none, it was Nelson Mandela. And when I go to schools with the younger kids, I have to remind them who he is. I say, "You don't know now, but you will. You will learn all about him. This is a great man." And when he came in, they had a choice of--they got through the front door at the state dinner, state visit, and they can go back out the front door. And I told the aide and the President [William J. Clinton], please let him come by my desk cause I want to meet him. And they said, no problem. So he did and, of course, it was just wonderful. And I had the pleasure of meeting him I guess maybe three times or mo--or more during our entire administration because he was a very close friend of the President's. And the state dinners were all very, very good. I only went to two, so I can't say that, and but just very nice. And I was told, I went to the one with Nelson Mandela, and I left, and those who stayed later said they danced and partied 'til the wee hours of the morning. And I--(laughs) went home, but missed that, just, just good.$$It's got to be tough partying to the wee hours of the morning--.$$Tell me, and they're working (laughs)--.$$--and working twelve hours, so that--.$$Well, if you're the President, your house is right there, so all you got to do is roll out and come on to work, but the rest of us had to go home and change and come back, but, yeah. It was, they had a carnival at the White House which was wonderful, on the South grounds. That was fun. I know once--what was it? It was the Oklahoma bombing, they gave us a, a plaque that they wanted us to plant, to put in the Rose Garden--or no, South lawn. And we had to get approval from the head usher, and it was difficult. So we finally sort of put it in a place where it could seen, not by him, but by others, yeah. The, just everything you touch, put in the Rose Garden has got to be, I mean security wise, especially even now, but they had to be okayed. You can't just drop something, yeah.$$Okay.$$Or pull up a plant or anything, yeah.