Nominate someone who’s made an impact at UC Berkeley and we’ll interview them for an Oral History

They’ve made a difference at UC Berkeley. Who are you thinking of right now?

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library has been around since 1953 and since then we’ve been documenting the history of UC Berkeley. Is there a Berkeley faculty, administrator, or staff person — past or present — who’s made an impact on campus? This is your opportunity to nominate someone who has made an outstanding contribution to campus life or to the teaching, research, or public service mission of the university — and we’ll interview the selected candidate for posterity. This oral history honor has been made possible by a generous endowment from the class of ’31. (Nomination form)

Campanile & Bay at sunset


Past narrators (interviewees) have included Edith Kramer, director emeritus of the Pacific Film Archive, and Susan Ervin-Tripp, Psychology professor, Ombuds, and advocate for women’s equity on campus. Last year’s awardee was Susan L. Graham, professor emerita, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (oral history in progress). Find these and all our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. You can search by name, key word, and several other criteria.

Nominations for the “Class of ’31 Oral History” are due by May 1 and the awardee will be announced in mid-May. If you have any questions, please contact Oral History Center Director Martin Meeker at (Nomination form). Selection criteria for nominees 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.

Documenting UC Berkeley’s contributions through oral history

The Oral History Center has conducted hundreds of in-depth interviews addressing key moments in UC Berkeley university history. Oral history projects about UC Berkeley consisting of multiple interviews include:

Professor Blackwell at chalk board

Athletics at UC Berkeley
The Free Speech Movement 
History Department, UC Berkeley
The Originals (African American Faculty and Senior Staff)
SLATE (student political organization, 1958–66)

Dozens of other interviews of Cal students, faculty, and staff can be found in the collection: Education and University of California – Individual Interviews. Even more interviews of Berkeley alumni and faculty can be found throughout our collection. Interviews include several of the first female students and administrators dating back to the late nineteenth century, as well students, faculty, and staff representing a multitude of disciplines and contributions to UC Berkeley and well beyond. To get a flavor of these UC Berkeley-related interviews, see the following articles on some newly released oral histories:

“They Got Woken Up”: SLATE and Women’s Activism at UC Berkeley, by interviewer Amanda Tewes

“George Leitmann: Engineering Science, Risk, and Relationships at UC Berkeley and Beyond” by interviewer Paul Burnett

And listen to the podcast season, Let There Be Light, about the powerful impact Berkeley’s identity as a public institution has had on student and academic life, and the intertwined history of campus and community.

In Sleeping with the Light On, we explore what home and community has meant to students at Cal, and how accessible spaces have supported social justice movements on and beyond campus.

Berkeley Lightning is about the contributions of UC Berkeley Engineering to the rise of the semiconductor industry in Silicon Valley.We focus on the development of the first widely used design program for prototyping microchips. Originally designed by and for students, the software spread like lightning in part because Berkeley, as a public institution, made it available free of charge. The world has not been the same since.

Berkeley After Dark is about the connection between the history of farm-to-table eating and the campus community.