Home » Posts tagged 'oral history'

Tags: oral history

Hadley Roff: A Life in Politics, Government and Public Service

Photograph of Hadley RoffNow available: Hadley Roff: A Life in Politics, Government and Public Service Oral History Transcript with video excerpts below. Hadley Roff (1931-2016) was a top aid and advisor to four San Francisco mayors from 1967 to 1992: Joseph Alioto, Dianne Feinstein, Art Agnos and Frank Jordan. He attended Stanford University from 1950 to 1954 where he was editor of the Stanford Daily. From 1957 to 1964 he was a night beat reporter for the S.F. News. He became a vocal advocate for firefighter safety and was beloved by the San Francisco Fire Department, serving on the Fire Commission beginning in 1995. In these interviews, Roff recalls the turbulence in San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s: Harvey Milk’s and George Moscone’s assassinations in 1978, Jonestown, the early years of the AIDS crisis. He recalls events on the national stage as they played out in San Francisco: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination and Watergate, among others. In 1992 Roff was press secretary for Dianne Feinstein’s senatorial campaign, and head of her California senate staff office from 1992 to 1995.

An Oral History with Malca Chall, Interviewer/Editor for the Regional Oral History Office, 1967-2000

Photo of Malca Chall, December 1965
Malca Chall, December 1965

We are delighted to introduce the oral history of our former colleague, Malca Chall: Wage Rate Analyst for the War Labor Board, World War II; East Bay Community Activist; Interviewer/Editor for the Regional Oral History Office, 1967-2000.

Malca is well known in the Oral History Center as a key staff member for thirty-three years. She came to the Regional Oral History Office, as we were then named, in 1967 and soon became an indispensable and respected interviewer, project director, and right-hand woman to director Willa Baum. Over the years she planned and carried out an impressive array of oral histories, most prominently in the fields of California water policy and politics and government. Her final volume of interviews was completed in 2000.

Few of Malca’s colleagues were aware of an earlier chapter in her life: her employment with the National War Labor Board in Seattle during World War II. Once we learned of her work as a wage rate analyst in the Seattle area for the War Labor Board, we realized that her story would add a unique perspective to our Rosie the Riveter / World War II American Home Front Project. Recognizing an opportunity to also document some important history of the Regional Oral History Office, where I was her colleague for many years, I offered to record Malca’s wartime experiences as the first topic in a longer oral history encompassing her career with ROHO. Only after meeting with Malca to plan her oral history did I realize the importance of also discussing her extensive civic activism in the Hayward/Castro Valley area. In many ways, her volunteer activities with the League of Women Voters and other citizen groups, as well as her wartime experiences, informed her pursuits as an interviewer and project director at ROHO.  

Malca Kleiner Chall was born in 1920 in Tacoma, Washington, to a family active in business, in civic affairs, and in the Jewish community. Malca graduated from Reed College and received a master’s degree in political science at the University of Iowa.

Photo of Malca Chall and siblings, 1944
Malca on left, sister Josephine, brother Herman Kleiner.
Photo taken for parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, 1944

In 1943, she accepted an offer from George Bernard Noble, her major professor at Reed who had been appointed head of the War Labor Board, Twelfth Region, to join his staff in Seattle. At age twenty-three, with minimal formal training, she stepped into the ticklish job of analyzing requests for wage increases from both labor and industry, as the WLB sought to dampen inflationary pressures in the midst of critical labor shortages. She visited potato fields, apple orchards, and fisheries, as well as banks, aluminum factories, shipping companies, and other work sites, conducting research and making determinations on acceptable wage rates.

In the oral history Malca reflects on the impact of her wartime employment and also discusses social and political life in wartime Seattle for a young professional woman. An amusing highlight of this section is her account of a bike trip with a friend and colleague, during which the two young women spent a night in a jail cell, arranged by the police of Everett, Washington, when the friends found themselves without a safe place to sleep.

Following the war, Malca moved to New York in search of a job in labor relations. She found work instead with the Edward Bernays public relations firm and in time met and married her husband, Harold Chall. After they moved west to California, settling south of Oakland in San Leandro and then Hayward and Castro Valley, Malca launched her second career as a civic activist, or as she puts it, “a pioneer of controversy in the community.” She worked for the Community Welfare Council in Oakland until the birth of the first of her two sons, David and Barry. As a young mother, she joined the League of Women Voters and was soon a leader in its Eden Unit, spearheading a study of the Hayward city government and helping to draft and secure voter approval for substantial charter revisions. She was active in campaigns for local political figures, including March Fong Eu’s election to the State Assembly as the second woman and first Asian American in the California legislature. She was also prominent in numerous battles to counter right-wing-John Birch Society-McCarthyite pressures in the Hayward area and to secure increased funding for local schools.

Photo of Malca Chall, Sacramento, 1969
Malca Chall in 1969 leading a delegation of parents from Castro Valley school district, protesting diminished school funding. Malca shown here speaking on capitol steps, with Assemblyman Carlos Bee at her side. At one point in her speech, Malca cited a recent article criticizing how Governor Reagan spent his time and then spontaneously declared that the parents would not leave until Governor Reagan came out to meet with them.
In the second photo, Reagan appears.

In 1967, Malca was hired by Willa Baum, long-time director of the Regional Oral History Office. Her background in political issues and personal relationships with East Bay women who had entered the arena of local and statewide government soon led to the development of one of ROHO’s earliest major projects, California Women Political Leaders, focusing on elected officials, political party officers, and community leaders from 1920 to 1970. She documented an era where women in elected offices at the state and federal levels were few and far between, demonstrating how they had nevertheless long been active, if often behind the scenes, in governance of political parties and community organizations, in local government and on school boards. She helped secure project funding for the Women Political Leaders project from multiple sources, including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rockefeller Foundation, honing an essential survival skill in an office that was funded almost solely by grants and gifts. Malca directed the Women Political Leaders project and was eventually tapped to conduct interviews in a variety of other subject areas, from banking to education to health care, even as she became the primary interviewer on California water policy for many years. Her wide-ranging work on water—from sanitary engineers to the founders of Save-the-Bay, from Governor Pat Brown and state water resource managers to the architects of the historic federal Central Valley Project Improvement Act—has made the Oral History Center’s collection an essential source for researchers on California water issues.

Photo of Malca Chall at her desk, mid-1980s
Malca Chall at her desk, mid-1980s

Willa Baum soon recognized Malca’s organizational skills, work ethic, and attention to detail and enlisted her for key tasks in office management. In the oral history, Malca describes preparing style and indexing guidelines for her projects, which became templates for many others. She researched average times to complete each aspect of the oral history process, an essential budgeting tool. Most impressive was the multi-paged comprehensive production manual, outlining each task in the oral history process, whose responsibility it was, and in which file drawer each stage of the evolving transcript should be placed, an essential document for an office primarily staffed by a shifting array of part-time workers, as many as thirty people sharing desks in a four-room space. Malca also discusses her contributions to outreach, including performing with Amelia Fry in a play based on ROHO’s interviews with suffragists. Throughout the oral history she recalls many of the ROHO women (almost all staff members were women), and the leadership qualities of Willa Baum, as well as friendships, fun, and challenges of her three-decade career with the Regional Oral History Office.

Photo of ROHO staff mid-1980s
ROHO staff photo taken for East Bay Express feature article, mid-1980s.
Left to right, Nora Cody, Ann Lage, Suzanne Riess, Elizabeth Eshleman, Laurie Dunlap, Malca Chall, Julie Shearer, Gaby Morris. In front, Willa Baum

 From January to May 2015, Malca and I met for seven sessions at her Hayward home to record her oral history. After receiving the lightly edited transcript, she undertook her characteristically careful review, did further research to check her facts, and added in names or details she had overlooked. She did not edit her words beyond a few clarifying changes. As we finished the review, Malca was packing up her house for a move to a retirement community nearby. Ever the careful historian, as she sifted through files she gathered historically significant papers and placed them with the Hayward Area Historical Society or the Bancroft Library, as appropriate. Her research files relating to water issues went to the Water Resources Center Archives (now the Water Resources Collections and Archives at UC Riverside) when she retired from ROHO.

Nearly all of the oral histories Malca Chall conducted during her ROHO career are available on line through the Oral History Center website, where also can be found the oral history with former director Willa K. Baum, conducted in part by Malca Chall. The Oral History Center is a division of the Bancroft Library and is under the direction of Martin Meeker. Special thanks are due to David Dunham who directs the World War II American Home Front project; he first tapped Malca as a Rosie interviewee and has shepherded this oral history throughout the process.  

Ann Lage
Interviewer Emeritus
Berkeley, California
July 2017

  

New Release: Wayne Feinstein, Former Executive Director, Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, 1991-2000

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library is pleased to announce the release of a new life history interview with Wayne Feinstein, who served as Executive Director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties from 1991 to 2000.

Wayne Feinstein was born Albany, New York, in 1952 and raised largely in Columbus, Ohio. He was active in his local Jewish congregation as a teenager and seriously considered the idea of attending seminary. He took an undergraduate degree from Colgate College and after graduation went to work for a series of Jewish community nonprofits, including: the United Jewish Appeal, the Jewish Welfare Federation in San Francisco, and the Council of Jewish Federations in New York. His first leadership role was as executive director of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, which was followed by years heading up the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation, where he was executive director from 1991 to 2000. In 2000, he switched careers, going into the private sector, eventually becoming a vice president at the Capital Group. In this interview, Feinstein discusses his childhood, education, and experiences formative in the development of his decision to serve the Jewish community for roughly three decades. He surveys the landscape of Jewish communal organizations and describes how the roles played by those organizations changed over the last quarter of the 20th century. Feinstein details, in particular, the three federations for which he served as staff executive, focusing on the fundraising and service functions of those organizations.

Wayne Feinstein, former Executive Director of the Jewish Community Federation

Mr. Feinstein’s interview adds yet another voice to our long-running interest in documenting Jewish philanthropy and community life in the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly through our “Jewish Community Leaders” oral history project. Other significant interviews from that project include: Annette DobbsPeter Haas, Samuel Ladar; William Lowenberg; Brian Lurie; Roselyn Swig; and many more.

Out from the Archives: Slaying the Dragon of Debt

Slaying the Dragon of Debt: OHC’s Look into Federal Budgets from the 1960s into the 2000s.

Debt and deficits, budget reconciliation, CBO scoring. These arcana have again appeared at the forefront of social media feeds and on the front pages of newspapers as Congress and the White House attempt to pass the new President’s agenda while figuring out how to pay for it.

Back in 2010, OHC director Martin Meeker and then-postdoc scholar Patrick Sharma embarked on a brief but intensive oral history project — that we called “Slaying the Dragon of Debt” — exploring the recent history of federal debt and deficits. The central question asked at the beginning of the project went something like this: how was it that after running deficits for over 25 years, the federal government was able to produce a budget surplus in 1998 and every year until 2001, when we returned to deficits? As the project progressed, plenty of other questions were asked as well: Can the surpluses be attributable to President Clinton’s fiscal policies? To the belt-tightening mandated by Congressional Republicans? To the monetary policies of Alan Greenspan’s Fed? To broader economic trends, such as the dot.com boom? To something else entirely? To all of the above?  

As we enter into a new fiscal regime, we think it is useful to return to our project on debt and deficits and attempt to seek insights into the complex workings of federal fiscal and monetary policy and how those policies are influenced by profound political shifts , warring parties, and memorable characters. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is now brought under criticism by the White House Office of Management and Budget, we want to know how have those offices worked together — or against one another — in the past. Has the work of CBO always been politicized and if so, how? Is the kind of rhetoric we hear today something entirely new or is it just another chapter in the decade’s long battles around government spending?

This project featured interviews with several former directors of the CBO, including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, June O’Neill, Rudolph Penner, Robert Reischauer, and Alice Rivlin. The project also includes interviews with a handful of former OMB directors, including: James McIntyre, Jim Miller, and, again, Alice Rivlin. Perhaps among the most revealing interviews are those with key staffers who worked behind the scenes, crafting legislation, and making policy. We recommend reading through the oral histories with Bill Hoagland, who served as staff director for the Senate Budget Committee from 1986 to 2003, and Joseph Minarik, who was the chief economist at the OMB throughout Clinton’s two terms. Let us know what you think!

New Research In Oral History – Lunch Lecture: Exploring The African American Experience In the 19th and 20th Centuries through Oral History

Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, Professor Emerita of History, California State University, Sacramento
March 20, 2017 | 12-1:15 p.m. | 267 Bancroft Library

Professor Shirley Moore, an alumna of UC Berkeley, is the author of numerous works on African American history in the West, including “To Place Our Deeds: The African American Community in Richmond, California 1910-1963,” and most recently “Sweet Freedom’s Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails 1841-1869. In the lunch lecture series, “New Research in Oral History,” Dr. Moore will discuss her use of oral history in these two books, as well as its overall importance in documenting the African American experiences in California and the West. Her research has been an invaluable resource for our Rosie the Riveter / World War II Oral History Project.

Professor Susan Ervin-Tripp: 2016 Class of ’31 Interviewee in University History

Professor Susan Ervin-Tripp

One of the great joys of being an oral historian is getting to talk to people you otherwise wouldn’t have known. We have the privilege of asking people about their lives, putting their experiences in context of the larger historical landscape, posing questions that others don’t have the opportunity to ask. I had the opportunity to do just this when I interviewed Professor Susan Ervin-Tripp in 2016.

Professor Dan Slobin puts it best in the introduction he wrote for Ervin-Tripp’s oral history:

Throughout her long and productive career, Susan Ervin-Tripp has repeatedly been a path-breaker. And the paths that she helped explore have become well-traveled roads. I is remarkable to see so many innovations in one life story: psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics, embracing new directions in the study of first-language acquisition as well as bilingualism; repeated applications of new technology: computers, tape recorders, video recorders, wireless microphones; design of new methods of transcribing and documenting the many layers of speech interaction; cross-linguistic and cross-cultural research, with attention to both individual and interpersonal dimensions of language. Along with these contributions to the scientific side of her profession, Ervin-Tripp has given equal attention to the institutional and political dimensions of academia, focusing on the treatment of women and minorities. Wherever possible, she used her academic skills as a psycho- and sociolinguist to provide a scientific foundation to her advocacy.

Slobin is not the only one who values Ervin-Tripp’s many contributions. Her interview was part of our Class of ’31 series, in which faculty and staff, both current and retired, are nominated by admirers to the subject an oral history. Ervin-Tripp received numerous, passionate nominations which conveyed a resounding eagerness to document her work in academics and equity, knowing that we could all benefit from learning about her trailblazing work.

I sat down with Ervin-Tripp for our first interview in May of 2016. It was immediately clear that she was a practiced speaker, having taught for many years, with a healthy sense of humor. She was poised and articulate, prepared with her notes. Over the course of our six hours of interviews, we discussed her childhood during the Great Depression in Minneapolis, Minnesota, her undergraduate education at Vassar College, her doctoral work at the University of Michigan, and her career at UC Berkeley, which began in 1958. She detailed her work on the Southwest Project in Comparative Psycholinguistics studying the connection between language and cognitive performance, her time as a professor in the Psychology and Speech Departments at Berkeley, her early adoption of technology in her research, her participation at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences and with the 1985 Scientific Exchange program in France. She talked about the significant advances that she made for women’s equality on campus and the multiple efforts she made to create such change.

It was a pleasure to have interviewed a woman whose career has impacted Berkeley so greatly. There are many lessons to learn from this interview, particularly the courage and persistence it takes to create an equitable environment. Professor Susan Ervin-Tripp’s oral history is one that is rare for her generation and one that should be celebrated.

Shanna Farrell, Interviewer, Oral History Center

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.

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.

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).

Show Your Support

Show Your Support button to donate to the Library

Library Events Calendar