The Stanford Historical Society Oral History Program explores the institutional history of the university through interviews with leading faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and others. Powered by the efforts of skilled volunteer researchers, interviewers, and editors, the program has completed over 800 oral history interviews since its inception in 1978.
Oral history is a special kind of primary source: a reflective, spoken account offered in response to questioning. It can be deeply personal. By capturing contexts, circumstances, motivations, and personalities, oral history provides details and viewpoints that are not often found in traditional written records. Scholars and the university community at large use the society's oral histories to gain a better understanding of the development of a research university and the individuals who created it.
Transcripts and/or audio recordings are accessible online for all of the oral histories in the Stanford Historical Society collection.
In addition to the ongoing Stanford Faculty and Staff oral history project, the Oral History Program supports special theme projects each year. Recent initiatives include the Stanford Pioneering Women project; panel discussions on the move of the School of Medicine from San Francisco to the Stanford campus, with former deans of the School of Humanities and Sciences, and a faculty perspective on Early Chicano/Latino History at Stanford. Alumni also participate in interview projects including during Reunion-Homecoming and at the Black Alumni and Latino Alumni summits in 2019. Coming soon -- additional interviews with trustees and senior leaders; the Disability at Stanford Oral History Project; the Stanford COVID-19 Oral History Project; and more.