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Collage of oral history interviewees

Oral History Program

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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.

Interview Projects

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.

Explore the collection   Suggest an interview

Program Happenings

SHS staff working at the Alumni Interviews during Reunion

Oct. 20-22 | Alumni Oral Histories at Reunion

At each Reunion Homecoming Weekend, SHS Oral History Program staff and volunteers conduct interviews for the Stanford Alumni Stories collection. Interview topics include life at student residences, special traditions, and extracurricular activities.
From left: Patricia Devaney, Susan Schofield, Jan Thomson

Susan W. Schofield Oral History Award

The Schofield Award aims to encourage oral history at Stanford, strengthen the collections of the Society and the Stanford Libraries, and recognize excellent quality in oral history work.
An oral history student intern conducting an interview

Oral History Summer Internship

Stanford students learn the skills and best practices of oral history interviewing and archival preservation and access while contributing to the documentation of Stanford University’s history.