At the conclusion of every academic year, the Oral History Center staff takes a moment to pause, reflect on the interviews completed over the previous year, and offer gratitude to those individuals who volunteered to be interviewed. The names below constitute the Oral History Class of 2020. Please join us in offering heartfelt thanks and congratulations for their contributions!
We would also like to take this time to thank our student employees, undergraduate research apprentices, and library interns. It was a unique semester, topping off a busy and productive year, and they continued to come through for us, as they always do. We rely on this team for work that is critical to our operations: research, interview support, and curriculum development; video editing; writing and editing of abstracts, frontmatter, and transcripts; and more. They’ve even produced articles and oral history performances to share our work with wider audiences. We couldn’t do it without them!
My paper would not have been nearly as thorough if I hadn’t found these oral histories.
When I began research for my term paper I did not initially think to look in the Oral History Center’s archives for my primary sources. My class was centered on U.S. and Middle East relations and I had chosen oil as the foundation of my paper. Despite being familiar with the OHC collections through my library work, I didn’t think that their archives would have much that wasn’t U.S. centric.
I started with some general search terms and quickly realized that the results were plentiful but not necessarily related to my topic. It was easy to skim through the search results and identify what was relevant, but nothing initially stood out to me. There was however an oral history collection I found in the “Projects” section of the OHC website under Commerce and Industry: “Health and Disease in Saudi Arabia: The ARAMCO Experience 1940s–1990s.” Aramco happened to be one of the major oil companies discussed in my sections, and healthcare was an interesting perspective with which to approach the assignment.
Searching through an oral history may seem a bit daunting at first; the Aramco volumes were each roughly 700 pages long. However, the Health and Disease volume was available digitally in the archives and had drop down menus for each section and interviewee, which made it much easier to search for information related to my specific thesis, without me having to read through the entire collection.
I used this collection as the foundation for my paper by incorporating the actual voices of the interviewees and how they viewed their experiences in the company. I then applied outside secondary and primary sources to build my argument, as well as context. What I aimed for was to use the actual interviewees in the oral history (with quotes, paraphrasing) as a way to build an individualized view of how they viewed their work and applied it to the broader themes I had outlined in my thesis. My paper would not have been nearly as thorough if I hadn’t found these oral histories. The OHC is an incredibly useful source for researchers and I encourage anyone to learn more about oral histories and how they can be used in one’s projects. I will say that first person voices enliven history and the OHC has plenty of them available to use.
Finally I would like to thank the Friesens for this wonderful prize and for providing additional focus on the resources of the Oral History Center for scholarly research.
Ricky J. Noel is starting his final year at Berkeley. He is majoring in history with a Latin American concentration.
Hello and welcome to The Berkeley Remix, a podcast from the Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Founded in 1954, the Center records and preserves the history of California, the nation, and our interconnected world.
Lately, things have been challenging and uncertain. We’re enduring an order to shelter-in-place, trying to read the news, but not too much, and prioritize self-care. Like many of you, we’re in need of some relief.
So, we’d like to provide you with some. Episodes in this series, which we’re calling “Coronavirus Relief,” may sound different from those we’ve produced in the past, that tell narrative stories drawing from our collection of oral histories. But like many of you, we at the Oral History Center are in need of a break.
We’ll be adding some new episodes in this Coronavirus Relief series with stories from the field, things that have been on our mind, interviews that have been helping us get through, and find small moments of happiness.
Hello, everyone! This is Amanda Tewes.
I was an avid podcast listener even before we all started sheltering in place. These days I’ve doubled down. But instead of listening on my commute, I catch up with episodes during my daily walks. And I’ve been sharing some of my favorite podcasts dealing with history, memory, and archival audio on the Oral History Center blog.
Today I’m going to tell you about a new podcast I’ve been listening to called Wind of Change, which was recently featured on the blog. You’re going to want to buckle up for this wild ride.
German heavy metal meets Cold War intrigue. If you’re looking for a fun listen during shelter-in-place, I highly recommend the podcast Wind of Change!
Following a rumor that the German band the Scorpions’ 1990 hit song “Wind of Change” was actually written by the CIA as Cold War propaganda, investigative reporter Patrick Radden Keefe turned this long-form piece into an eight-part podcast series documenting the song’s influence on politics and popular culture, as well as its potential connection to American clandestine operations. Throughout, Keefe toys with the tension as to whether or not this kind of CIA involvement in songwriting is likely. After listening, my takeaway is that it’s just wild enough to be true.
Many Americans haven’t even heard of the Scorpions. And if you’ve heard of them at all, it’s due to their song “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” You know the one.
But this German band that sings in English has diehard fans all over Europe and Asia. Formed in 1965 in Hanover, Germany, three of the five band members have been playing together since 1978. And they continue to tour internationally.
And what makes the song “Wind of Change” so fascinating is its resonance with the zeitgeist of 1990. The song was supposedly written after the band played in Moscow in 1989 and was released shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
For many, the song represents the “change” happening across Europe that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. But as Keefe points out, “Wind of Change” isn’t just the soundtrack to the end of the Cold War, but also a song with modern resonance. When he saw the Scorpions live in Kiev, Ukraine, alongside huge crowds, Keefe was reminded that the country was actually still at war with Russia, trying to maintain its post-Cold War independence.
For Ukranians at least, “Wind of Change” is not just nostalgia, but a sort of call to arms.
Keefe’s previous work inlcudes his 2019 book Say Nothing: The True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, which the Oral History Center chose as its inaugural book club pick. (Make sure to check out that conversation!) In Say Nothing, Keefe explores the challenges of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, alongside the murder of Jean McConville and the Boston College Belfast Project oral histories. In Wind of Change, Keefe encounters similar challenges working with former spies as he did with former revolutionaries in Ireland: lies and obfuscation.
The delight of listening to this story in a podcast format is the ability to hear the song itself, the enthusiasm from live Scorpions audiences, archival and new interviews, and to provide some (but not enough for their taste) anonymity for former clandestine officers. But Wind of Change offers more than just great audio, it also takes the listener on a journey into how to investigate a thirty-year-old story, following oddball leads – even to a G.I. Joe convention – and invites skepticism about what information to actually believe. Indeed, the podcast also questions the nature of storytelling around this rumor and its own role in continuing the myth making around the CIA. But Keefe also wonders: how do you uncover something that (if true) was among the top CIA secrets during the Cold War? As an oral historian, I would add that these events have also been diluted by memory and time, and those who can speak to the true origins of “Wind of Change” may no longer be able to do so.
Part cultural history and part investigation into Cold War operation, Wind of Change also documents the CIA’s other attempts at cultural influence. From Louis Armstrong to Nina Simone to Doctor Zhivago, Keefe reiterates the CIA’s long history of using popular culture to convey the principles of Western democracy and undermine communism. Further, Keefe points to the very nature of rock and roll as ripe for use as propaganda: the genre was effectively banned in the USSR, so the act of listening to the music itself was a proxy for political rebellion.
The podcast Wind of Change is not just a fun listen about a campy band and Cold War CIA operations, but also a compelling story and a great distraction. Listen to all eight episodes of Wind of Change right now on Spotify.
You’ve got the song stuck in your head now, don’t you?
Stay safe, everyone. Until next time!
Thanks for listening to The Berkeley Remix. We’ll catch up with you next time. And in the meantime, from all of us here at the Oral History Center, we wish you our best.
This episode includes music by the Scorpions and Paul Burnett.
These times pose great challenges for us as individuals and as a nation. We are being called upon to look beyond our own narrow interests and to make changes in our behavior to keep ourselves and others safe. In reflecting on my interviews over the past year, most of which are not yet publicly available, I see people who have identified problems and engaged with them directly. I see people having hard conversations, which includes taking some degree of responsibility, either personally or institutionally, for something that has gone wrong, or that has been going wrong for quite some time. I see people who act in accordance with their values.
In the San Francisco Opera project, I see Dramaturg Emeritus Kip Cranna and former General Director David Gockley having difficult conversations about budgets and staffing during periods of crisis, which, in the arts, is always a relative term. I see former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau spending a lifetime advocating for the excluded and disadvantaged, and taking criticism after making difficult administrative decisions. I see Susan Graham—one of the first professors of computer science at UC Berkeley—participating in the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology that was established during the Obama Administration, which recentlywarned the federal government of the urgent need to replenish the national stockpile of personal protective equipment that had nearly been depleted after the H1N1 pandemic. And although I did not conduct the interview with nurse administrator Cliff Morrison, I felt close to his story, as it features prominently in thepodcast I worked on about the early years of the AIDS epidemic. After spending a career caring for people living with AIDS, Morrison is currently participating in astudy of the long-term effects of COVID-19, having contracted the disease while performing similar acts of service in this latest pandemic. In Cliff’s story, he took the step—audacious for the early 1980s—of asking patients what they needed and providing it for them, overriding an established hierarchy in the hospital by doing so. Although he was not the first to suggest patient-centered care, his act of courage was an important catalyst for the development of the “San Francisco Model” of nursing care that has since become a standard around the world.
But one of the interviews that really stays with me is with Bob Kendrick, who had a 60-year career in the mining industry. He tells a story of a mine accident that happened while he was the superintendent. What he relays in the story—and the fact of his telling it—is an example of taking responsibility that I take to heart.
And finally, there’s the oral history of George Leitmann, an engineering science professor at UC Berkeley who returned to Europe and risked his life to fight the Nazis and to make the world a better place.
In recent months, we have all been reminded, again, of the call to respect one another and to act to reduce harm to others, whether this involves simple acts of observing public health recommendations or speaking out and acting against organized discrimination, implicit bias in our own work, and systemic problems with police brutality against African Americans. Many of the oral histories listed below are examples of people who have spent their lives serving some idea of the greater good. I am grateful to all of my narrators this past year for reinforcing the importance of stepping up and taking responsibility for the world we live in, and the world we want to live in.
This year, we celebrate the completion or near-completion of the following interviews:
Bob Kendrick – Global Mining and Materials Research
Twenty-twenty has proven itself to be a challenging year, starting with the spring semester at UC Berkeley suddenly moving online to accommodate for the shelter-in-place order during a worldwide pandemic. Stressed, demotivated, and anxious, many of us students had to balance school on top of financial, familial, mental health, and other issues. Needless to say, I was extremely touched by the flexibility and continued commitment that many of my professors exhibited this semester. Twenty-twenty is also the 150th year of the University of California opening its doors to women, and I am lucky to be part of a project of the Oral History Center to identify all the interviews of UC-related women in its collection. While doing this research, I found myself especially interested in the stories of UC Berkeley women faculty. Many of these women were pioneers in their own fields at the time, or pursued their passion for learning despite great adversity.
The oral history of historian Natalie Zemon Davis reminded me that what is first seen as unconventional or disadvantageous can sometimes actually be an opportunity. As the only woman in a department of men, she used her position to include more units focused on women in history and expanded gender studies classes at UC Berkeley. Professor Elizabeth Malozemoff reminded me that learning is a valuable treasure and that pursuing education could continue at any age. Going back to school and earning her degrees at Cal, she rebuilt her life with such an unbroken positive attitude after leaving her home in Russia because of the chaos from the Bolshevik Revolution. Reading about their life experiences not only made me proud to be a Golden Bear, but also gave me encouragement and a sense of hopefulness for the future.
Natalie Zemon Davis
Professor Natalie Zemon Davis is a social and cultural historian who specializes in Early Modern History. In 1968, she arrived at UC Berkeley as a visiting professor and the only woman in the History Department at the time. She attained full professorship later in 1971. In addition to Berkeley, she has taught at Brown University, the University of Toronto, and Princeton University. In her interview conducted by the Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library in 2003, Professor Davis recounts the difficulties attaining equality as a woman in a male-dominated field. This, in turn, sparked an interest in teaching history with a focus on women.
From the start, Davis did the unconventional. She chose to go into graduate school while also being married, which were seen as two distinct and diverging pathways for women in the 1950s. She recalls in her oral history interview that while her teachers were “not optimistic about women marrying and having children and having a career, because they had taken other paths,” Davis was not interested in following norms. Her marriage was founded on “egalitarian ideals.” She was one of the very few female students studying archival social history. Although the professors treated her seriously, she admitted that there was a difference in social attitude and treatment, stating “they just didn’t think about what it might be like to be a woman student.” But her interest in history meant more to her than adhering to the status quo. She remembers, “there was no way I was going to be stopped….I loved my work so much.”
Instead of allowing the challenges of being one of the only women to overwhelm her, it actually sparked an interest to bring a greater emphasis on the perspective of women into the historical discourse. Working with female graduate students in 1966 at the University of Toronto, Davis studied the experiences of women with children working toward their Ph.D., hoping to raise awareness to daycare needs. She was one of the first to hold undergraduate economic history classes with a focus on women “as central characters,” by adding topics regarding women poverty and labor services. Her integrity behind her courses stood out; she taught what she thought was important and interesting without expecting that it would lead to recurring courses. At UC Berkeley, Professor Davis taught the Reformation course, “Society and the Sexes in Early Modern Europe,” which looked at the likeness and differences between genders, garnering attention for the expanding field of gender studies. Professor Davis was involved in the Academic Senate Committee on the Status of Women, an initiative committed to hiring more women in academic departments.
While Davis’s accomplishments already make her story noteworthy, her confident attitude to pursue her passion was what really left a strong impression on me. As someone interested in pursuing a career in academia but also sometimes racked with self doubt about my ability, I admired the simplicity in her love of history and gender studies. And I certainly felt pride for UC Berkeley when she praised the institution for its “open” environment, which she felt gave her a space to experiment with understanding history and culture through the perspective of women.
As the spring semester continued on, I, like many others, was having difficulty staying motivated for my online classes. But, when I read through Professor Elizabeth Malozemoff’s oral history interview, I was suddenly reminded of the simple fun and joy learning can bring. Before Malozemoff went on to become a Russian Culture and Literature professor at UC Berkeley, she was born in Tsarist Russia in 1881. Growing up as a daughter of a seamstress who interacted with the wealthy, she became familiar with the entrenched classism within Russian society, specifically the contempt toward the meshchane, or whom she called the “petty bourgeois.” She explained in her oral history how the meshchane were seen as “the people who cannot rise from the ground, who are only interested in eating and sleeping, they have no interest in anything culture or in anything spiritual.” According to Malozemoff, this only gave people of the meshchane a strong desire to break free from such conceptions. Her mother, who could speak multiple languages but could not read or count well, had a “determination to give the children the best education possible,” because it was a dream her “mother had when she was a young girl.” Malozemoff believes that her class upbringing became interlaced with her identity starting from a young age, and subsequently acted as fuel and passion for her teaching.
Malozemoff began teaching at age 19 in St. Petersburg, later founded a kindergarten in 1915 for workingmen’s children while holding adult classes for miners, and also was principal for a high school at Lena Gold Mines from 1918–1920. However, her world was upturned when the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 first brought on unwanted cuts and limitations to her school, and then the “saddest tragedy of my life.” She recalls in the interview how she heard from her younger brother:
I received a telegram from him announcing the deaths of the five dearest people in my life. There had been a massacre around the estate. The Bolsheviks massacred my mother, my two sisters, and even the nurse of my little nieces, and then my brother was killed. My nephew, a boy of twelve, jumped out of the window when these Bolsheviks came and started to use their rifles. The two little nieces, twins, crawled into a stove and they stayed there during the night. The whole place was ransacked.
The violence and political unrest ultimately led Malozemoff to leave her life and established career in Russia to escape with her family through Siberia, Mongolia, China, and Japan, until they eventually reached San Francisco in 1920. Heartbroken, she had to start her life from scratch.
Yet at the same time Malozemoff recalls that she entered the United states with a sense of fresh optimism, believing that it was “a blissful country for us that would give us a chance to develop our capabilities.” As she began to acculturate into American life, she made it her purpose “to give in written form American culture to the Russians, and also to bring Russian culture to my American audience, my American friends and the American people.” She also felt a sense of inferiority in her education, that her teaching in the “lower classes” and caring for her children had left her “so ignorant, not being up-to-date with literature, with music, with historical events which had occurred during the ten years.” Specializing in Russian culture, she enrolled and received her B.A. in 1922 at age 41, her M.A. in 1929, and her Ph.D in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in 1938, all of which were obtained at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1935–1950, Malozemoff became a Russian language and culture professor, continuing her longterm passion for teaching and introducing Russian culture to students at Cal.
Needless to say, her journey was marked with obstacles. Malozemoff recalls the confusing process of adapting to American culture, stating that “during the first months in a foreign country you don’t understand what’s going on, not knowing the language, and not knowing many of the ways of life.” Regardless of what she had experienced, her optimism stood out to me. In her interview she remembers her horror while walking through a neighborhood during Christmastime, misinterpreting the wreaths hung on doors as a symbol for death in the family, instead of a festive decoration. While she saw it later as a “funny mistake,” it is one of countless examples of the little confusions an immigrant experiences while trying to adapt to a new culture in day-to-day life.
Perhaps it is the stories hinting at her ability to connect with her students, the wisdom she gained from traveling, or her tenacity to learn and find new forms of teaching that I find most admirable. Or maybe it is her mantra that she proved to live by that I find most striking. Her favorite saying goes, “step forward, always forward, in all circumstances in life.” According to her, that is precisely what she did, “trying to be alive with continuous desire to be human and humane, in steps forward the simplification and service to the people.”
Deborah Qu just finished her first year at UC Berkeley and is majoring in psychology. As a part of the celebration of 150 years of women at Berkeley, Deborah is researching the Oral History Center’s vast archive to identify women in the collection with a relationship to UC Berkeley.
I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing and thought it was excellent. It tells the story of a girl who is abandoned by her family at a young age. The novel traces her struggle to survive and her eternal longing for connection. Sadly, she is rejected by nearly all the people she comes in contact with and is treated as a “feral child.” The storytelling is superb, and the author creates a beautiful world in the marshlands where it takes place.
Below is a screenshot of La Bolsa on the page of UCSP. The image is being used for fair academic use only. There are other historical newspapers and images that can be accessed using the digital library of UCSP