Former Senator George J. Mitchell '54 addressed a sold out Pickard Theater at the launch of the library's George J. Mitchell Oral History Project.

The Oral History Project, a three year endeavor, launched on Monday night and can now be viewed online. According to the website, the project has collected approximately 200 transcripts of interviews from Mitchell's friends and family, as well as senators and staff members, public policy officials, foreign policy specialists, and more. Together, the testimonies shed light on Mitchell's life, political career, and numerous accomplishments.

The project is funded entirely by private donations from friends, family members, and Mitchell himself.

Richard Lindemann, director of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, was in charge of planning and organizing the project, as well as hiring and supervising the executive team that would eventually bring it to fruition.

"I would have the hope that Bowdoin students in particular would use this [project] as a scholarly resource, that it will be of benefit particularly to students in government and history," says Lindemann. "It's also a really strong resource for local and social history. It's really interesting and unique information that you can't find in other sources because it's not the kind of information that's typically documented. That's what makes oral histories predictable and magical all at the same time."

According to Lindemann, aside from helping with funding and providing a list of potential individuals to interview, Mitchell had no influence on the process of creating the oral history project, and did not seen the results in advance.

"I want to thank those who were interviewed, as some of whom are here this evening," said Mitchell at the launch. "I haven't read or heard any of the interviews, but I intend to do so soon, and I hope that I'll still want to thank you after I do," he joked.

Having grown up in a very modest home in Waterville, Maine, Mitchell helped pay his way through Bowdoin, working numerous jobs, and eventually went on to receive some of the most prestigious accolades for serving the Common Good.

"In America, no one should be guaranteed success, but everyone should have the opportunity to succeed. Success in human affairs will be based on knowledge," said Mitchell. "All of us need the critical reasoning skills to distinguish falsehood from truth, fiction from reality."

After graduating from Bowdoin as a history major, Mitchell served in the army for two years until 1956, attaining the position of First Lieutenant. Later, he attended the prestigious Georgetown University Law Center and earned his law degree.

In 2008, Mitchell was named one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world. He served as a U.S. Senator from Maine for 15 years, even serving as Senate Majority Leader between 1989 and 1995. For six consecutive years he was voted "the most respected member of the Senate." Additionally, he was appointed as a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, served as the United States Special Envoy during the Northern Ireland peace process, and recently served as President Obama's Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, particularly in attempting to facilitate a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"Politics involves compromise in all societies," Mitchell concluded. "You will want status and wealth, and you may get it. However, genuine fulfillment comes with committing yourself fully to a cause that is larger than yourself."

Mitchell is also the founder of the Mitchell Institute, a non-profit organization based in Portland, Maine. Since 1995, the Institute has allocated over $8 million to high school seniors from public schools in Maine who perform well academically and show an interest in leadership and community service.

Approximately 130 Bowdoin students have been George Mitchell Scholars, over 20 of whom are currently enrolled at the College. Over 1,800 students throughout the state of Maine have received funding from the Institute since the scholarship's establishment.

The evening with Senator Mitchell convened after a brief question-and-answer session, following which Mitchell left the stage in the midst of his third standing ovation of the night.