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Getty Oral Histories: Jim Druzik and Neville Agnew

We are pleased to announce the release of two new oral histories in our continuing partnership with the Getty Trust to document the careers of extraordinary artists, scientists, preparators, scholars, and administrators that have guided and shaped the Getty over the past thirty years. Historians Todd Holmes and Paul Burnett spent four days alternating full-day interview sessions in an intense baptism into the world of conservation science, exploring the careers of two remarkable scientists from the 1960s through to the present: Jim Druzik and Neville Agnew.

Foxes and Hedgehogs: Jim Druzik and the Development of the Field of Conservation Science
Getty Conservation Institute Senior Scientist Jim Druzik had a baptism of his own rubbing shoulders with the geniuses of postwar modern art as they worked together on installations at the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art. Trained as a chemist, and with one foot ever in the scientific world, Jim very quickly applied the latest scientific research to the problems of conservation. He joined the Getty Institute of Conservation in 1985, and soon established himself as a world leader in conservation science, always concerning himself with how the physical and chemical composition of museum artifacts reacted with the physical and chemical composition of their environments. But much more than that, Druzik was a student of the larger social and economic context of the museum world, taking advantage of initiatives in pollution research, assessments of industrial chemicals, and energy conservation, to name just a few, to make the museum world a better, more accessible and sustainable place. Finally, Jim is very reflective about his roles as a scientist and an administrator. He understands that the world of science and the world of the museum are defined by the people who work in them and on them. Science is social, as the historians are fond of saying, and the keys to Jim’s success can be found as much in his enthusiasm for the people he works with as for the work he does with them.

Neville Agnew: Thirty Years of Cultural Heritage Site Conservation with the Getty Trust
South-African-born Neville Agnew is a more nomadic scientist. If Jim’s work brings laboratory tools to the museum environment, Neville’s brings lab techniques and tools far out into the field. Whether raising and preserving the guns of a long-lost naval vessel off the north coast of Australia, or studying the deterioration of the Great Sphinx in Egypt, or restoring ancient Buddhist cave paintings in southwestern China, Neville underscores the fact that international conservation work is not just bringing the tools of the laboratory to bear on ancient sites, but also a skillful diplomatic effort to build and maintain the partnerships—between project sponsors, international conservation research teams, national political leaders, and local communities—needed to conduct such work. He explores the tension between an ideal of conservation in controlled environments versus the compromises inherent in dealing with “immovable cultural property.” At a time when the willful destruction of cultural heritage is almost a daily news item, we are reminded of the importance and fragility of the work that both of these scientists have done to protect the world’s art and cultural heritage for future generations.

Paul Burnett and Todd Holmes, Historians/Interviewers, January 2017

In Memory of William K. Bowes, Jr.

William Bowes

Photo of William Bowes

William K. Bowes, Jr. died peacefully at home on December 28, 2016 after a long illness. A leading member of the first generation of venture capitalists, he was a private investor in many of the earliest startups in what became known as Silicon Valley. In 1981, he founded U.S. Venture Partners where his conviction that venture capitalists should actively guide companies rather than simply invest in them was a basic principle. His focus was the biomedical industry, an interest he inherited from his physician father. The investment of which he was most proud was in Amgen, a pioneering biotechnology company of which he was founding shareholder and the startup’s first chairman and treasurer. Not a man of many words, he was known for his brief, to-the- point interjections in business negotiations. In later years, Bowes’s interest turned to philanthropy in the fields of science, the arts, education, and the environment. Among his many generous bequests was a recent pledge of $50 million to the University of California, San Francisco to support young investigators. A far cry from the hard-driving venture capitalist, Bowes was known for his self-effacing manner and personal warmth. For details of his life and contributions, read his oral history transcript.

NEW PRIZE in UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH: Carmel and Howard Friesen Prize in Oral History Research — Call for Submissions

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library is proud to announce a new prize to be awarded to a UC Berkeley undergraduate student in Spring 2017: The Carmel and Howard Friesen Prize in Oral History Research. The Friesen Prize comes with a $500 award.

The Friesen Prize will be awarded to the Berkeley undergraduate student who submits the best essay that draws upon Oral History Center interviews. The selection committee will evaluate the submission based on these three criteria:

  • How well oral histories are integrated within and essential to the overall essay
  • How creatively oral histories are used in the essay
  • And the overall quality and persuasiveness of the essay

 The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library was established in 1954 and since that time roughly 4000 interviews have been completed, transcribed, and made available to researchers. Nearly all interviews are available to everyone in transcript form at the Center’s website.

Oral histories have been conducted across a wide range of thematic areas including: arts and literature, science and medicine, social movements and community history, business and labor, politics and government, law and jurisprudence, food and agriculture, and the history of the University of California. Major projects featuring multiple interviews include: the Berkeley Free Speech Movement; the marriage equality movement; Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front; venture capital; Kaiser Permanente and health care; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; mining and the environment; the law clerks of Chief Justice Earl Warren; the Sierra Club; the disability rights and independent living movement; and the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II, to name just a handful.  

The Prize is named for Carmel and Howard Friesen. Carmel and Howard were married for 64 years when Carmel passed away in 2015. Both Friesens attended Berkeley and have supported Berkeley for decades. In 2015, the Friesens granted to the Oral History Center a generous endowment that supports this prize in addition to interviews conducted by the center.

To be eligible to win, applicants must:

Be Berkeley undergraduates at any class level (lower- or upper-division) and in any discipline (arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences, and engineering) and have completed their research project for a credit course at UCB taken in Spring 2016, Summer 2016, Fall 2016, or Spring 2017.

Submissions are due by April 1, 2017, delivered via email to mmeeker@library.berkeley.edu

For additional information, including restrictions for those already receiving financial aid, applicants are encouraged to visit the Friesen Prize websitehttp://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/oral-history-center/prizes


The Oral History Center (OHC), a research division of The Bancroft Library, documents the history of California, the nation, and the interconnected global arena. OHC produces carefully researched, audio/video-recorded and transcribed oral histories and interpretative historical materials for the widest possible use. OHC was formerly known as the Regional Oral History Office.

Nominations Open: Annual “Class of ’31” Interview in University History

Nominations Open: Annual “Class of ’31” Interview in University History

Nominations for the 2017 “Class of ’31 Oral History Interviewee” are now open! We invite people to nominate a UC Berkeley faculty or staff person who has made a significant contribution to the life of the campus. The person selected will be invited to participate in an oral history interview conducted by our office. Selection criteria include: willingness of the nominee to participate, OHC interviewer expertise, uniqueness and rarity of the nominee’s story and level of contribution to campus life, and the generation of the nominee. Past “Class of 1931” interviewees include: Anthropology Professor Laura Nader; speechwriter for UC presidents Pat Pelfrey; Director Emeritus of the Pacific Film Archive Edith Kramer, and sociolinguist Susan Ervin­ Tripp.

From the Archives: Fiona Thomson’s Interview With former Black Panther Ericka Huggins

This month, in conjunction with the “All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50” exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, we’re highlighting Fiona Thomson’s oral history of Ericka Huggins. In this interview, Huggins talks about her personal and spiritual history, her leadership role in the Black Panther Party, and her lifelong commitment to social justice.

In 1968, at age 18, Huggins became a leader in the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party with her husband John Huggins. Three weeks after the birth of their daughter, John Huggins was killed and Erika Huggins was widowed. After returning to New Haven, Connecticut, to be with John’s family, Ericka Huggins was invited by community members and students to open a party chapter there. She accepted the invitation.

In May 1969, Huggins and fellow Party leader Bobby Seale were targeted and arrested on conspiracy charges, sparking “Free Bobby, Free Ericka” rallies across the country. The resulting trial, one of the longest and most celebrated of the era, spawned several books.

While awaiting trial for two years before charges were dropped, including time in solitary confinement, Huggins taught herself to meditate as a means to survive incarceration.

From 1973-1981, Huggins was Director of the Oakland Community School, a groundbreaking community-run child development center and elementary school founded by the Black Panther Party. In 1976, Ericka Huggins became both the first woman and the first Black person to be appointed to the Alameda County Board of Education.

Ericka Huggins

Ericka Huggins

A lifelong writer and poet, upon release from prison in 1971, Ericka became writer and editor for the Black Panther Intercommunal News Service. She is the co-author, with Huey P. Newton, of Insights and Poems, published in 1974. Huggins is now professor of Sociology and African-American Studies in the Peralta Community College District.

In her four interviews with Thomson, Huggins talks candidly about her experiences as a child in segregated Washington, DC, and as a mother, activist, spiritual practitioner and teacher, and friend and lover. The oral history adds to the Bancroft Library’s archive of materials related to the Black Panthers, including the papers of Eldridge Cleaver and the photographs of Stephen Shames.

If you are in the Bay Area, be sure to visit the multimedia exhibit at the Oakland Museum (open until February 12, 2017), to learn more about the Black Panthers and the contributions of Ericka Huggins and many others to the ongoing struggle for social justice.

Linda Norton, Senior Editor

From the Oral History Center Director: Looking Back on 2016

Reading through year-end reviews of 2016 is decidedly not a lighthearted pursuit. So many favorite musicians of my, and many other, generations have left us and though we have the gift of their music we also have sadness. Events on the world stage seem to descend only deeper into violence and chaos. And an ugly and contentious election cycle in our country — not to mention the surprise result — have left many fearing for the future of our democracy.

While remaining mindful of past disappointments and future challenges, I think that it is important to recognize achievements, successes, and positive outcomes too, for these sustain us and give us hope. We, at the Oral History Center, want to revisit some of the new and exciting developments of the past year that give us — give me — great optimism going forward into 2017.

As many of you may know the Oral History Center experienced a great generational transition beginning around 2011, with the retirements of our three most senior interviewers, associate director, and director. After many years of rebuilding, in 2016 the office has again built-out to roughly full capacity with the arrival of two additional interviewers: Todd Holmes and Cristina Kim. Joining Shanna Farrell and Paul Burnett (both of whom joined us in 2013), Holmes and Kim hit the ground running and by the end of the year have each conducted substantial life history interviews, played key roles in our Summer Institute and the first season of our new podcast series, and have begun developing what promise to be important new oral history projects.

The four lead interviewers, combined with Rosie the Riveter project interviewer David Dunham and I, conducted approximately 425 hours of interviews in 2016 — very likely a record level of productivity for our office. Each and every hour of interview contains something special and irreplaceable: a first-person account of a lived experience, of disappointments and failures, and of hopes and dreams. Projects completed or begun in 2016 include the Freedom to Marry project; Economist Life Stories; Global Mining and Materials Research; Getty Trust; Rosie the Riveter; and many others. Individual life history interviews were completed with leaders in the fields of environmental regulation, genetics, labor, health systems, music, law, education, philanthropy and community service, and foodways. In 2017 expect to see the release of the Freedom to Marry interviews, more interviews with artists and curators in partnership with the Getty Trust, as well as new interviews on the California Coastal Commission and the emergence of ethnic studies in the United States — to mention just a few areas.

Historic oral history transcripts at the Oral History Center

Historic oral history transcripts at the Oral History Center

The oral historians here at Berkeley have long been productive scholars and authors, publishing magazine articles, journal essays, and books. In 2016, however, we expanded our scholarly engagement activities by producing a podcast series “Tales from the Campanile.” The first season (we hope to produce two seasons annually), “From the Outside In: Women in Politics,” featured six episodes, each running 15-20 minutes in length which looked at a century of women’s role in politics leading up to the historic candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Lead producers Todd Holmes, Shanna Farrell, and Cristina Kim selected audio clips from our amazing interviews with leaders including suffragist Alice Paul, congress member Jeanette Rankin, and California secretary of state March Fong Eu; we were thrilled that Emmy Award-winning journalist Belva Davis agreed to narrate the podcast. For 2017 and beyond we have seasons in the works that will look at the history of the AIDS epidemic and California’s uber issue: water. Stay tuned!

The Center continued our educational offerings with great success. In March we hosted our annual “Introduction to Oral History Workshop” and in August our “Advanced Oral History Summer Institute.” A diverse and engaging group of participants attended both trainings and, as always, we were impressed by the enthusiasm and intelligence of the attendees, which we take as a harbinger of great oral history projects to come! We look forward to our 2017 Introductory Workshop, which will be held on Saturday February 25th and our Summer Institute, scheduled for the week of August 7th.

In addition to the new oral history projects, podcast seasons, and educational offerings, we are looking forward to getting our latest partnership with the National Park Service off the ground in 2017. David Dunham wrote about this in the previous newsletter, but, in brief, it entails nothing less than an expansion and improvement of the interview search on our website as well as, ultimately, streaming of complete oral histories online — a real first for the Center.

Finally, I want to conclude by offering my gratitude to the many people who make all of this work possible. Given that all of our interviews must receive external funding (the university does not pay the salaries of the interviewers, transcription, or equipment, for example), I want to thank all of the individuals and institutions who have invested in us over the last year. We strive to always improve the quality of our work and we very much hope that our dedication to the craft of oral history shows. We also invite everyone interested in supporting our work to assist us by making a tax-deductible donation to the Oral History Center. We are also always interested in hearing from our supporters about ideas for new projects and new interviews, and how we might go about finding sponsors for those projects.

I also want to thank my regular staff — Julie Allen, Paul Burnett, David Dunham, Shanna Farrell, Todd Holmes, Cristina Kim, and Linda Norton — for their essential contributions; I also extend my gratitude to our interns, student employees, emeritus interviewers, and Library colleagues. Last but not least, my heartfelt appreciation goes to our interviewees. We have never paid an interviewee for the time (sometimes numbering dozens of hours) that they give to our oral history projects.

Thank you and we look forward to staying in touch throughout 2017!


Martin Meeker 

Charles B. Faulhaber Director

Oral History Center

Del Anderson Handy, a Consummate Educator: From a Childhood in the Rural South to the Chancellorship of San Francisco City College

Photo of Del Anderson HandyDel Anderson Handy grew up in a small town near Vicksburg, Mississippi, where she worked alongside her great-grandmother, a midwife and forewoman on a plantation. She began studies at Alcorn College and after leading a student protest against racism she left the South and moved to California. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in human development and family life education, and a Master’s in Social Work at San Diego State, and shortly became a member of the faculty there, the third African-American on the tenure track in a university of that size. After a number of posts in community colleges, she was named Chancellor of San Francisco City College, where she played a leading role in a $150 million bond campaign to build two new campuses. A lifelong fighter for civil rights, Del Handy retired 1998 and is active on the boards of several Bay Area organizations. Her oral history transcript, Del Anderson Handy, a Consummate Educator: From a Childhood in the Rural South to the Chancellorship of San Francisco City College, is now available online.

Arnold Harberger: New Oral History for Economist Life Stories

We are pleased to launch the next interview in the Economist Life Stories Project: Sense and Economics: An Oral History with Arnold HarbergerThis oral history with Arnold Harberger was conducted in seven day-long sessions in Los Angeles, CA from the fall of 2015 to the fall of 2016. Dr. Harberger is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago and Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles. He is perhaps most widely known for overseeing the USAID Chile Project, which trained Chilean students in economics who then went on to found programs in economics and take up positions in the Chilean government. However, that story is merely one in Dr. Harberger’s sixty-five-year career in technical assistance and education around the world. He has consulted for the US government, numerous individual nation states, as well as institutions such as the US Agency for International Development, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Of equal importance is his career as a scholar, from his training and interest in international trade to his work in public finance, especially project evaluation and benefit-cost analysis. Throughout, this oral history explores his lifelong pursuit of “real-world economics,” research that both draws from and supports economic policymaking.

Financial support for this work was provided by Richard Elden, a member of the Becker Friedman Institute Council, whose contribution is gratefully acknowledged.

Although this project focuses on the leaders and students of the University of Chicago Department of Economics, the Graduate School of Business, and the Law School, we hope to add more stories from economists around the world as the project expands.

George P. Shultz: First Oral History for Economist Life Stories

It’s with great anticipation that we announce “Problems and Principles: George P. Shultz and the Uses of Economic Thinking,” the first oral history in a new project called Economist Life Stories, featuring in-depth interviews with some of the most influential economists of the twentieth century. George Shultz is perhaps best known for his public service. He was appointed Secretary of Labor, the first Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Secretary of the Treasury during the Nixon Administration, and later became Secretary of State during the Reagan Administration. But before that, he was professor of economics and dean of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. Mr. Shultz talks at length about his years at Chicago, but a thread throughout this life history is the economist’s way of thinking about and understanding the world. Most importantly, from his military service in World War II to his far-ranging policy analysis since he left public life, Mr. Shultz speaks of the importance of moving past ideological positions to work with others to solve concrete problems.

The interviews were conducted by Paul Burnett at the Hoover Institution in sessions over four days in September of 2015. Hodson Thornber and Paul Burnett organized the project with Toni Shears of the Becker Friedman Institute, with important support from an advisory group of historians and economists.

Financial support for this work was provided by Richard Elden, a member of the Becker Friedman Institute Council, whose contribution is gratefully acknowledged.

Although this project focuses on the leaders and students of the University of Chicago Department of Economics, the Graduate School of Business, and the Law School, we hope to add more stories from economists around the world as the project expands. In December, we will launch the second interview in this project, with economist Arnold Harberger.

New Oral History Research Series: “Making Sense of My World Through Oral History” by David Montejano

Date: Monday November 14, 2016

Time: Noon to 1:15pm

Location: Oral History Center Conference Room, Bancroft

New Oral History Research Series: “Making Sense of My World Through Oral History” by David Montejano

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library throughout the academic year hosts occasional presentations of the most current and interesting oral history-based research being conductedPhoto of David Montejano book Quixote's Soldierstoday. In this second “brown-bag” presentation of the year, Berkeley Ethnic Studies Professor David Montejano will be speaking about his decades-spanning work as a historian and sociologist and the role oral history has played in his work. Dr. Montejano’s major areas of interest include Comparative and Historical Sociology, Political Sociology, Social Change, Race and Ethnic Relations, and Community Studies. A native of San Antonio, he received a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and two Masters and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Dr. Montejano is the author of the prizewinning historical overview, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 (Austin: Univ of Texas Press, 1987; 7th Printing, 1999). The book also has been translated and published in Mexico (Mexico City: Editorial Alianza, 1991). He has authored numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, and edited Chicano Politics and Society in the Late Twentieth Century (Austin: Univ of Texas Press, 1999). His most recent publication is Quixote’s Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1981 (Univ of Texas Press, 2010).

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