2018/19 Art Practice & University Library Printmaking Award Winner: Alexandra Grabow

Alexandra Grabow is a fourth year double major in Art Practice and Theater and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley. Even though she took her first art class during her senior year of high school, she has had a drive to create from a young age. As a young girl, Alexandra was taught how to needle point by her mother and quickly became obsessed with the craft; so much so that it has influenced her current work at the university. The block like x stitch of the needle point has grown to become a style of creating images that Alexandra has continued to use in her works. Her unique style can be seen in some of her portraits as well as landscape paintings done during her time at UC Berkeley.

In her fourth semester, and as part of her thesis project, Alexandra wanted to explore how these two forms of creation are connected. Through experimenting with printmaking and needle pointing, Alexandra discovered that the imagery in which these pieces were created were coming from two different forms of memory. After this discovery, Alexandra explored the connection between how the digital world of technology processes memory, and how the human world does it in similar and different ways. In the senior thesis show Alexandra created a free standing frame that depicts a map of how memory is processed and how the types of processing this information weaves in and out of one another. This style has been described by many of  her peers and professors as digital or pixelated; however, these descriptions differ from her print work which is described as more organic and atmospheric.

Two of Alexandra’s prints have been added to the Graphic Arts Loan Collection, and are availale to students at UC Berkeley to borrow. Below are some thoughts on the prints from Alexandra.


EXPNDS is my latest intaglio series. I am continuing to work with the same types of etching process in previous print series. The reasoning for the title EXPNDS is because I am working with the largest size plate I have ever worked with. As of now this series is a two plate aquatint ground step etching. I have etched each plate once in the acid, with a box dusted aquatint ground. I used the same abstract brush technique to apply the stop out as my other plates, giving it the cloud like texture it has. Some of the prints from this series have been used in other parts of my work, such as my senior thesis project, and will continue to appear in mix media forms of my work.


EXPRMNTS was my first print series that experiment with a new abstract style of printmaking. Instead of trying to recreate imagery from what I saw in reality, I let myself create images that came from places inside my own mind. In many of my other fields I am completely about control and planning, while in printmaking I have been moving away from control and expectations of reality. Not only is the imagery created in this series different from what I have created before, but the process and techniques are also different. This plate series is a three plate aquatint and spray paint aquatint ground step etching. I etched each plate with a box dusted aquatint and used an abstract brush technique when applying the stop out. After the first round of the plates going in the acid, I box dusted the plates a second time and etched them in acid. The last time I sent the plate into the acid, I did a moderate application of the spray paint aquatint. I have printed multiple series of this three plate, three color, print and plan to continue to experiment with the series.

The Art Practice & University Library Printmaking Award is given to the undergraduate student in the Department of Art Practice who has demonstrated an astute understanding of printmaking techniques, as well as an advanced ability to express themselves through the medium of printmaking. This award was established in 2018 by the Department of Art Practice and the University Library, and is given to one or two students each academic year. 

Library Prize Exhibit Fall 2019 about Female Stationers


Image of Exhibit Case.
Items in the Library Prize exhibit in Doe Library are photographed on Nov. 15, 2019. (Photo by Violet Carter for the UC Berkeley Library)

“I held the work of female printers like Elizabeth Cellier, one of my case studies. In doing so, I discovered small details that reshaped my thesis.” – Claire Danna

This reflection came after Claire Danna completed “And as to my own Sex”: The Networks and Rhetoric of Unity Between Female Stationers in the 17th Century, for which she earned the prestigious 2019 Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, an annual prize awarded to students who have completed exceptional research and made significant use of the Library’s resources. Claire wrote her paper for her Honors Research Seminar (English H195A and H195B) under the advisement of Professor Janet Sorensen. 

Claire’s paper is the subject of this semester’s rotating Library Prize Exhibit, located on the second floor of Doe Library between the Heyns Reading Room and the Reference Hall. Drawing on texts in the Main Stacks and resources from the Bancroft Library, the exhibit showcases key texts used by Danna as she explored the experiences of women printers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The exhibit includes: a digitized replica of the title page of Elizabeth Cellier’s Malice Defeated (1680); a modern laser cut depicting Cellier’s trial created by Annalise Phillips, the Library’s Maker Education Service Lead; a composing stick with historically appropriate text set by Les Ferriss, Master Printer; and Claire’s notebook and notes used to keep track of her sources and their connections. The exhibit was co-curated by Nicole Brown, Head, Instruction Services Division and Gisele Tanasse, both members of the Library Prize Committee and designed by Aisha Hamilton, the Exhibits and Environmental Graphics Coordinator. The exhibit will be up until April 2020.

Special thanks to: 

Annalise Phillips, Maker Education Service Lead, who you can find at the Moffitt Makerspace

Les Ferriss, Master Printer, who teaches The Hand-Printed Book in Its Historical Context

Peter Hanff, and the staff of the Bancroft Library 

Image of exhibit case.
Items in the Library Prize exhibit in Doe Library are photographed on Nov. 15, 2019. (Photo by Violet Carter for the UC Berkeley Library)


Image of Exhibit Case.
Items in the Library Prize exhibit in Doe Library are photographed on Nov. 15, 2019. (Photo by Violet Carter for the UC Berkeley Library)

The Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research is awarded annually, and submissions are now open to all undergraduates until April 16, 2020. In addition to a monetary award of $750 for lower-division winners and $1000 for upper-division winners, the recipients of the Library Prize publish their work in eScholarship, and two will be featured in an exhibit in the Library. Find out more information, including how to apply.

Learn about the rest of this year’s winners and honorable mentions. Be sure to stop by the exhibit to see Claire’s work in person. You can replicate Claire’s research journey by searching Early English Books Online (EEBOO)


The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

Libretto of opera based on Mirèio by Charles Gounoud (1918) from HathiTrust

A Lamartine:
Te consacre Mirèio : es moun cor e moun amo,
Es la flour de mis an,
Es un rasin de Crau qu’emé touto sa ramo
Te porge un païsan.

To Lamartine :
To you I dedicate Mirèio: ‘tis my heart and soul,
It is the flower of my years;
It is a bunch of Crau grapes,
Which with all its leaves a peasant brings you. (Trans. C. Grant)

On May 21, 1854, seven poets met at the Château de Font-Ségugne in Provence, and dubbed themselves the “Félibrige” (from the Provençal felibre, whose disputed etymology is usually given as “pupil”). Their literary society had a larger goal: to restore glory to their language, Provençal. The language was in decline, stigmatized as a backwards rural patois. All seven members of the Félibrige, and those who have taken up their mantle through the present day, labored to restore the prestige to which they felt Provençal was due as a literary language. None was more successful or celebrated than Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914).

Mirèio, which Mistral referred to simply as a “Provençal poem,” is composed of 12 cantos and was published in 1859. Mirèio, the daughter of a wealthy farmer, falls in love with Vincèn, a basketweaver. Vincèn’s simple yet noble occupation and Mirèio’s modest dignity and devotion mark them as embodiments of the country virtues so prized by the Félibrige. Mirèio embarks on a journey to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, that she might pray for her father to accept Vincèn. Her quest ends in tragedy, but Mistral’s finely drawn portraits of the characters and landscapes of beloved Provence, and of the implacable power of love still linger. C.M. Girdlestone praises the regional specificity and the universality of Mistral’s oeuvre thus: “Written for the ‘shepherds and peasants’ of Provence, his work, on the wings of its transcendant loveliness, reaches out to all men.”[1]

Mistral distinguished himself as a poet and as a lexicographer. He produced an authoritative dictionary of Provençal, Lou tresor dóu Felibrige. He wrote four long narrative poems over his lifetime: Mirèio, Calendal, Nerto, and Lou Pouemo dóu Rose. His other literary work includes lyric poems, short stories, and a well-received book of memoirs titled Moun espelido. Frédéric Mistral won a Nobel Prize in literature in 1904 “in recognition of the fresh originality and true inspiration of his poetic production, which faithfully reflects the natural scenery and native spirit of his people, and, in addition, his significant work as a Provençal philologist.”[2]

Today, Provençal is considered variously to be a language in its own right or a dialect of Occitan. The latter label encompasses the Romance varieties spoken across the southern third of France, Spain’s Val d’Aran, and Italy’s Piedmont valleys. The Félibrige is still active as a language revival association.[3] Along with myriad other groups and individuals, it advocates for the continued survival and flowering of regional languages in southern France.

Contribution by Elyse Ritchey
PhD student, Romance Languages and Literatures 

Source consulted:

  1. Girdlestone, C.M. Dreamer and Striver: The Poetry of Frédéric Mistral. London: Methuen, 1937.
  2. “Frédéric Mistral: Facts.” The Nobel Prize. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1904/mistral/facts. (accessed 11/12/19)
  3. Felibrige, http://www.felibrige.org (accessed 11/12/19)

Title: Mirèio
Title in English: Mirèio / Mireille
Author: Mistral, Frédéric, 1830-1914
Imprint: Paris: Charpentier, 1861.
Edition: 2nd
Language: Occitan with parallel French translation
Language Family: Indo-European, Romance
Source: Gallica
URL: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k64555655

Other online editions::

Print editions at Berkeley:

The Languages of Berkeley [fan]
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The Languages of Berkeley is a dynamic online sequential exhibition celebrating the diversity of languages that have advanced research, teaching and learning at the University of California, Berkeley. It is made possible with support from the UC Berkeley Library and is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC).

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Literature in Celebration of Native American Heritage Month

by Pooja Bale

November is National Native American Heritage Month, a time to cherish the Native American culture that has so heavily influenced the contemporary American way of life. Native American literature in particular is rich with the voices and perspectives of Native Americans and their traditions, struggles, and triumphs woven into poetry, works of fiction, and memoirs. Visit the Native American Heritage Month website for more information.

Check out these selections to dip your toes into the vast world of Native American literature!

Take a look at these recent works that have quickly gained popularity:

Sift through poetry on Native American experiences with these releases:

Settle back into classics known and loved:

We also recommend inquiring into the Bancroft Library’s extensive collection of essential Native American materials.

Want to recommend a favorite of yours? Let us know on Twitter at @doe_lit! We hope you enjoy these books and explore the rest of the Library’s Native American literature collection.

December 5: Lunch Poems with Margaret Ross

Margaret RossThursday, December 5
12:10 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.
Morrison Library in Doe Library
Admission Free

Margaret Ross is the author of A Timeshare. Her poems and translations appear in The New Republic, The Paris Review, and POETRY. Her honors include a Fulbright arts grant, a VSC/Luce Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. She currently teaches at Stanford University where she is a Jones Lecturer.


The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

Senandung jiwaku by Mulyono Saleh. Bandung: Tarate, 1976. (Center for Research Libraries)

Senandung jiwaku is a selection of poems by Mulyono Saleh published in various Indonesian newspapers and magazines between 1963 and 1976 that he entitled “The Song of My Soul.” The poems show the author’s concerns, love, and hope for his country (Indonesia) and his fellow countrymen, as well as religious reflections. He pays particular attention to marginalized segments of society such as women (mothers and national heroines) and ordinary people like grassroots farmers and fishermen.

Ethnologue lists 719 distinct languages, mostly indigenous, spoken in Indonesia, making it the most linguistically diverse country on the planet.[1] For at least a thousand years, however, Malay has held the position of lingua franca of the maritime region of the great Malay archipelago, which is now divided between Indonesia and Malaysia. The names bahasa Indonesia (“Indonesian language) and bahasa Malaysia (“Malaysian language”) — both standardized varieties of Malay — were introduced in the 20th century to differentiate the two national languages.[2] Indonesia is now the fourth most populous nation in the world. Of its large population, the majority speak Indonesian, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.[3] 

The Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies (SSEAS) at UC Berkeley offers both undergraduate and graduate instruction and research in the languages and civilizations of South and Southeast Asia from the most ancient period to the present. Instruction includes intensive training in several of the major languages of the area including Bengali, Burmese, Hindi, Khmer, Indonesian (Malay), Pali, Prakrit, Punjabi, Sanskrit (including Buddhist Sanskrit), Filipino (Tagalog), Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Urdu, and Vietnamese, and specialized training in the areas of literature, philosophy and religion, and general cross-disciplinary studies of the civilizations of South and Southeast Asia.[4] Outside of SSEAS where beginning through advanced level courses are offered in Indonesian, related courses are taught and dissertations produced across campus in Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, History,  Linguistics,  Music, and Political Science (re)examining the rich history and cultures of Indonesia.[5] 

Yusmarni Djalius, PhD Student
Lecturer, Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies

     Sources consulted:

  1. Ethnologue (accessed 11/8/19)
  2. Dalby, Andrew. Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
  3. Sneddon, James Neil. The Indonesian Language: Its History and Role in Modern Society.  Sydney: UNSW Press, 2003.
  4. Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley (accessed 11/8/19)
  5. Indonesian (INDONES) – Berkeley Academic Guide (accessed 11/8/19)

Senandung jiwaku: kumpulan sajak Mulyono Saleh
Title in English: The Song of My Soul
Author: Saleh, Mulyono
Imprint: Bandung : Tarate, 1976.
Edition: 1st edition
Language: Malay/Indonesian
Language Family: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian
Source: Center for Research Libraries
URL: https://dds.crl.edu/crldelivery/28736


The Languages of Berkeley [fan]
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The Languages of Berkeley is a dynamic online sequential exhibition celebrating the diversity of languages that have advanced research, teaching and learning at the University of California, Berkeley. It is made possible with support from the UC Berkeley Library and is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC).

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Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr., Historian of Late Imperial and Modern China, University of California, Berkeley, 1965-2006  

Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr., Historian of Late Imperial and Modern China, University of California, Berkeley, 1965-2006

Ann Lage
November 2019
Oral History Center

The Oral History Center is pleased to announce the launch of the oral history with noted China historian, Frederic Wakeman.  Conducted over eleven interview sessions in the two years before his death in 2006,  the oral history is part of an ongoing series of interviews with scholars in UC Berkeley’s Department of History.

Fred Wakeman spent his academic career at Berkeley, commencing with graduate studies here in far eastern history under the guidance of Professor Joseph Levenson. Immediately after completing his PhD in 1965, he was appointed assistant professor of history, and he served in the department for forty-one years, until his retirement in 2006.  But despite his fealty to this place, he was very much a citizen of the world throughout his life, as he recounts in his oral history. He vividly describes his peripatetic childhood .as the son of a novelist and screenwriter living in Bermuda, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, France, and the US Midwest, Northeast, and South, and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Gene Tunney, a racketeer godfather, and purported spies and con men. As a youth, he mastered several languages, read widely, made himself at ease in many cultures, and developed the fascination with the world of intrigue that suffused much of his scholarly work. He studied European history and literature as an undergraduate at Harvard and Soviet studies and political theory at the Institut d’etudes politiques in Paris. He then wrote a novel and flirted with the idea of joining the CIA,  before settling on pursuing a graduate degree in China studies at Berkeley.

Over his four-decade career, Wakeman wrote groundbreaking histories of late imperial and modern China, meticulously researched, deeply analytical, and written with the graceful narrative style of a master novelist. Strangers at the Gate, his doctoral dissertation, engaged in local history, a new departure in China studies. With History and Will, he examined Mao’s intellectual roots in European and Chinese thinkers. Delving into newly discovered historical archives in China, he pursued his monumental work, twenty years in the making, on the Ming-Qing transition, the two-volume narrative history, The Great Enterprise: the Manchu Reconstruction of the Imperial Order in 17th Century China. Discovery of an incredible source of social and police history in the archives of the Shanghai Municipal Police led to his trilogy of books, Policing Shanghai, Shanghai Badlands, and Red Star over Shanghai. In 2003, he published his fourth book focusing on Shanghai and reflecting his interest in espionage, Spymaster: Dai Li and the Chinese Secret Service

On campus Wakeman chaired the Center for Chinese Studies from 1973-1979 and was director of the Institute of East Asian Studies from 1990-2001. He was instrumental in opening scholarly exchanges between the US and China in the 1970s. His oral history describes the excitement of meeting Chinese historians in 1979 and the transformation that ensued in the study of Ming-Qing history when the first group of American scholars was led to the secret and unimaginably vast archive of government documents on the Ming-Qing era: 

It was again one of those occasions where people who we thought were dead or had disappeared, or whatever, suddenly were saying, “I’m Xie Guozhen.” My God! Or, you know, “I’m Wang Qingcheng,” or “I’m . . . Zhaang Zhongli.” You know, very famous people. . . . it was absolutely thrilling. we were all completely atingle with excitement. And the second day there, the person who was assigned to be our, the Chinese call peitong, the person who accompanies you, who was a very, very vigorous, strong intellectual who had made his way through the Cultural Revolution, without—he had been labeled a Number Nine Stinking Intellectual; he’d survived that, and he was a wonderful man who’d been a secretary of Guo Moro, the great Chinese poet and writer and historian. He told me, in confidence, he said, because I was the head of the delegation, he said, “We’re going to take you to see the Ming-Qing archives. I said, “Really!” I was so excited. . . we didn’t know these things had been preserved . . .

Hidden in a compound on the grounds of the Forbidden City,:they are led into vaults,   “You go into these vaults and it’s, ‘My God!’ and it began to dawn upon us. This was—we had our work cut out for us!”

As he notes in the oral history, the study of modern Chinese history was forever altered by the ensuing research in these documents. Wakeman’s The Great Enterprise was based largely on this Forbidden City archive. 

In response to our project’s interest in the history of the Department of History, Wakeman reflected on the department’s all-male cohort hired at Berkeley in the late fifties and early sixties, a variegated group with tolerance for different historical approaches and insistence on rigorous standards for promotion to tenure. He contrasts the camaraderie of this group with the department’s gender and cultural battles in the early and mid-1980s, resulting in sometimes bitter personnel fights. His oral history also traces hiring in the China area, which made the Berkeley department a major US site for training historians of China.

Wakeman vividly describes campus protests of the Vietnam war era and the effect of campus political battles on the history department and the Center for Chinese Studies.

Our final interview took place in April 2006. Fred Wakeman retired in June and was awarded the Berkeley citation, the university’s highest honor. He and his wife, He La Wakeman, moved to their home in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Within just a few months, Fred died of cancer, on September 14, 2006, at age 68. We are grateful to have these recollections of his remarkable career.  Fred Wakeman’s research, writing, and teaching, coupled with his public service on the campus and as chair of the Social Science Research Council and committees to expand scholarly exchanges, had a major impact on China studies at Berkeley, in the US, and internationally. 


Michael R. Peevey: An Entrepreneur in Business, Energy, Labor, and Politics

New Transcript Release: Michael R. Peevey

Michael R. Peevey in 2017.

A key theme throughout Michael R. Peevey’s life, which he narrates in this extensive oral history, has been establishing a balance between economic dynamism and environmental harmony.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger meets with Michael Peevey, President of the CPUC. (October 2003)

In the 2000s, as President of the California Public Utilities Commission and lead regulator of California’s vast energy industry, Peevey combated climate change with policies that incentivized the state’s transition to renewable energy. In the late 1990s, his own incredibly successful start-up company, New Energy Ventures, offered such efficiencies in electricity use and cost that it secured contracts from major companies and organizations, including all US military installations across California. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, while president of the Southern California Edison utility company, Peevey spearheaded efforts for electric vehicles. And in the 1970s, Peevey balanced economy and environment by co-founding and directing a new political advocacy organization called the California Council on Environment and Economic Balance (CCEEB), made up of labor organizations, powerful corporations, and environmentalists.

Michael R. Peevey was born in New York City in 1938 and moved to San Francisco in 1944. After earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Labor Economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1959 and 1961, respectively, Peevey helped pioneer President John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier at the US Department of Labor. Peevey returned to California in 1963 to become research director of the California Labor Federation.

California State Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy, Michael Peevey, California Governor Ronald Reagan, and California State Senator Arlen Gregorio at the signing of the Economic Impact Report bill. (1974)

In 1973, shortly after creation of the California Coastal Commission, Peevey co-founded and became executive director of the California Council on Environment and Economic Balance (CCEEB), which was chaired by former California Governor Pat Brown. Peevey later helped establish similar institutions to balance environmental improvement with economic opportunity, including the California Foundation for Environment and Economy (CFEE), CALSTART, the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, and the California Clean Energy Fund.

Peevey became deeply involved in California’s energy sectors. In 1984, Peevey joined the Southern California Edison utility company, where he quickly rose to become president of both Edison International and Southern California Edison before departing in 1993. In 1995, amid deregulation of California’s energy economy, Peevey co-founded New Energy Ventures (now NewEnergy, Inc.), which rapidly rose from zero to $600 million in annual sales. Peevey and his co-founders sold New Energy to AES in 1999.

Michael Peevey and California Governor Grey Davis confer in Los Angeles during the California energy crisis. (2001, photo by Barry Levin)

In 2001, amid skyrocketing electricity costs and rolling brown-outs, Governor Grey Davis requested Peevey come to Sacramento to help mitigate the California energy crisis. In 2002, after Peevey helped control the crisis, Governor Davis appointed him as president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Both ensuing California Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown reappointed Peevey as CPUC president before Peevey’s retirement in late 2014. In 2017, Peevey co-authored the book California Goes Green: A Roadmap to Climate Leadership, which further details ways that California has pioneered paths toward environmental sustainability while maintaining its astounding economic dynamism.

In this oral history, Peevey discusses all the above events, as well as the following topics: his family background and upbringing; education at UC Berkeley; work in labor organizations; running for elected office; political advocacy on environmental issues; reflections on political and executive leadership; his career at Southern California Edison; market deregulation and entrepreneurship; the California energy crisis in the early 2000s; leadership of the California Public Utilities Commission; and policies he championed to incentivize California’s green-energy economy.

New Transcript Release: Michael R. Peevey

OHC Director’s Column – November 2019

From the Director:

Preserving Veteran Experiences for Future Generations

It was the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month that the armistice ending World War I took effect. In the ensuing years this was celebrated, first, as Armistice Day, and, now, as Veteran’s Day. On this day we commemorate and remember those men and women who have served in the armed forces. Although the Oral History Center has no “veteran’s oral history project” per se, we proudly have documented the lives and service of hundreds of military men and women in multiple projects throughout our collection, and in observance of this year’s holiday, we’d like to highlight some of those for you here.

When the Oral History Center was established sixty-five years ago, World War I already was nearly forty years in the past. I was not able to locate any oral histories in our collection with those who served in the US military at that time, but the life and times of The Great War does appear in our interviews, and from some pretty interesting angles too. Our 1987 interview with Charles Blaisdell, Jr. offers a view into immediate prewar Germany, around the time of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, as well as his observations of World War I from outposts in India and China. A memoir from 1976 provides another unique perspective on World War I, this time from a young man living in pre-Soviet Russia, Ivan Stenbock-Fermor

Mary Cohen and soldiers, 1944
Army recruiter Mary K. Cohen talking with young men about the benefits of being in the Army, 1944. (Courtesy of Mary K. Cohen)

The collection becomes much more substantial in its coverage of World War II, both of those who served in the military and who assisted with the homefront effort. Of the latter group, any serious researcher must contend with the Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front oral history project. This project, completed only in the last few years, is OHC’s largest project to date, resulting in hundreds of individual interviews. Along with scores of interviews with those who worked in wartime industries, this project also features a handful of interviews with women who served in the military, such as army recruiter Mary Cohen, who later went on to place veterans in jobs; or served in some auxiliary role, such as Anita Christiansen and Mary Highfill, both of whom volunteered with the USO; or Grahame Crichton Coffey, who joined the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) in 1943 and continued her service for the duration of the war. 

Two soldiers posing for photo, Germany, 1945
UC Berkeley professor emeritus George Leitmann (right) with fellow soldier, Sid Shapiro, Germany, 1945. (Courtesy of George Leitmann)

In dozens of additional interviews, men detail their service in the war and bravery in many of the great battles. Walter Newman, for example, provides a harrowing, awe-inspiring account of the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944; around the town of Saint Lo, Newman was shot through the lung and gravely injured, spending many months hospitalized (see the video below). He recuperated fully and went on to work for the welfare of veterans throughout his life and was even honored with the French Legion of Honor medal in 2009. Our recent oral history with UC Berkeley Mechanical Engineering Professor George Leitmann also offers a riveting first-person account of the Battle of Colmar and the liberation of Europe. The fact that both Newman and Leitmann were young Jews fighting the Nazis adds an extra dimension to these dramatic tales.

Gordon Coleman
UC Berkeley alumnus Gordon Coleman, veteran of the Korean War, Commandant of the Army Reserve School at the Oakland Army Base. (Courtesy of Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library)

The story of American veterans did not end with World War II, and the OHC collection includes scores of oral histories with those who have served in Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War, among other conflicts. Our project documenting the history of the Oakland Army Base includes interviews covering all of these conflicts, but has a special focus on the Korean War and Vietnam War eras, the time at which the base was the largest military port operation in the world. Gordon Coleman, an Oakland native and graduate of UC Berkeley, served in Korea in the immediate wake of the ceasefire. George Bolton, who was interviewed for this project, was raised in Oakland and was drafted into the army in 1963 where he served for two years, including some time in these early years of the Vietnam War. Grant Davis served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, and then went on to have a civilian career at the Oakland Army Base. All three men speak about their military careers from the perspective of African Americans who experienced integration, and racism, while in the service.

Military personnel standing with books
Military personnel working on college degrees while stationed at Oakland Army Base, 1980. (Courtesy of Jim Johnson)

These interviews are just one way — perhaps only one small way — in which the Oral History Center, and by extension UC Berkeley, chooses to honor our veterans and remember their service to our country. Further, we are aware that those whom we had the chance to interview were those who survived the battles, the wars, and the hardships; they returned home, but many others did not. Because they are the ones who lived to tell those stories, we take seriously our role in preserving them for you and future generations to hear. 

Martin Meeker
Charles B. Faulhaber Director
Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library