Oral History Program
The Stanford Historical Society Oral History Program explores the institutional history of the university through interviews with faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and other members of the Stanford community. Powered by the efforts of skilled volunteers, the program has completed nearly 1,000 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.
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; the Stanford Athletics Project; and a panel discussion with former deans of the School of Humanities and Sciences. Alumni also participate in interview projects during Reunion-Homecoming and at special events. Coming soon -- interviews with former university president John L. Hennessy and former provost John Etchemendy; the Disability at Stanford Oral History Project; Childcare at Stanford; the Stanford COVID-19 Oral History Project; and more.
Transcripts and/or audiovisual recordings are available for all of the oral histories in the Stanford Historical Society collections. Most interviews are accessible online.