USDOT at 50: The Early Years is a series of essays compiled and edited by Alan E. Pisarski in commemoration of the 50th aniversary of the United States Department of Transportation. The following is the introduction to the collection written by Alan:
“The essays and recollections appearing here (and here) have been assembled in the History Committee of the Transportation Research Board and will be housed in the US DOT’s National Transportation Library on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the US Department of Transportation. The opening document consists of excerpts from A Great Honor, the memoir of DOT’s first Secretary of Transportation, Alan S. Boyd, with his permission. The remaining pieces were prepared by some of those who were at DOT at the beginning, many of whom had leadership positions in significant areas that established the early policies and directions of the agency. It does not aim to be a comprehensive or exhaustive history, but rather seeks to set down for future reference notable events and decisions, some very momentous, some more light-hearted, deemed worth preserving in the eyes of those who were there. No attempt has been made to design, organize, or otherwise modify the thoughts of the preparers. These are their thoughts in their words. You will find some very skilled writers here addressing some very important events in transportation history, and many authors who went on to brilliant careers beyond their early DOT days. It is a tribute to the amazing collection of people assembled there in the formative years of the agency.
This commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of DOT has been marred by the death last night of William T. Coleman our fourth Secretary, whom we all remember with great fondness and respect. Several pieces, prepared over the past year refer to his role in the Department’s early days. His very distinguished tenure as Secretary is overshadowed by his immense influence in American History. Thus, with his loss, of the first four Secretaries who served in the formative early years of DOT, only Secretary Boyd remains. It is notable that the tenure of those first four; Boyd, Volpe, Brinegar and Coleman encompassed the first ten years of the Department’s history from January 1967 to January 1977. These documents focus on that first 10 years, the critical period in which the Department’s culture formed. It is the most distant period and therefore the most important to preserve.
This collection is dedicated to Secretary Boyd, his successors and to the great agency they set on its path.”