We are pleased to announce the launch of a new project, one that is long overdue. Elaine Tennant, Director of The Bancroft Library (TBL), has created a fund for oral history interviews with women who helped to build and bolster UC Berkeley. While we have a long tradition of interviewing male leaders from around campus, women leaders have been underrepresented. It is now time to conduct more interviews that reflect the invaluable contributions of such women.
Tennant gathered a multitude of women who are tied to campus: professors, philanthropists, advisors, friends, researchers, and staffers for a lunch on December 1, 2015 to begin a conversation about the strength of the women builders of Berkeley. These women, of whom included several of our staff, both current and retired, as well as with women whom we’ve interviewed, convened at The Bancroft Hotel. Kathryn Neal and Theresa Salazar, TBL archivist and curators respectively, pulled several treasures from the library; these items were on display and drew a large crowd at the start of the afternoon, indicating the reverence for TBL’s collection.
Dr. Sandra Epstein gave a lecture entitled “Neglected Women: Philanthropy and the Growth of the Berkeley Campus.” Dr. Epstein, who used TBL’s collections in the research of her books, Law at Berkeley: The History of Boalt Hall and Business at Berkeley: The History of the Haas School of Business, spoke about several acclaimed women who helped to make Berkeley what it is today, through both their intellectual and philanthropic contributions. One thing was abundantly clear at the conclusion of this presentation: the history of women at Berkeley runs deep.
After the presentation, Tennant took the stage to discuss the importance of documenting the history of women on campus. Oral histories, she posited, are a very dynamic way to illustrate their significance and preserve their legacy. She announced the creation of the Women Leaders of Berkeley Fund, which will help jumpstart this process and served as a call to action for many of the incredibly talented women in that very room.
Oral History Center
The Bancroft Library