New Releases Wednesday: Robert Gibson: A Pioneering Career in Pharmacy at UCSF, 1950s-2000s

Photo of Robert Gibson

Robert Gibson: A Pioneering Career in Pharmacy at UCSF, 1950s-2000s

Robert Gibson was born in Tacoma, Washington. He served in the US Army during World War II. In 1958 he was the first African American to receive a Pharm.D. from the University of California, San Francisco. He then joined the faculty at UCSF where over the next 50 years he served in many capacities, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Associate Dean for Professional Affairs in the School of Pharmacy, and as Director of the Pharmaceutical Technology Laboratory. In 2000 he was elected president of the American Pharmaceutical Association, and in 2006 he received the Remington Honor Medal.

A Career in Mining: Stanley Dempsey on Law, Leadership, Finance, and Community Engagement

Read the full transcript of Stan Dempsey’s oral history.

Stanley Dempsey is a geologist, lawyer, executive, and entrepreneur whose interest in the environment and outdoor pastimes led him to spearhead collaborations between the mining industry and activists, which anticipated the environmental legislation of the 1970s. Dempsey was at the forefront of developing the mining industry?s legal and policy responses to environmental regulation during this early period, and became Director of Environmental Affairs for AMAX, Inc., the first position of its kind in the industry. He was responsible for acquiring land positions and for construction contracts for the Climax and Henderson mines in Colorado. He directed the AMAX part of a multinational joint venture in iron-ore mining in Western Australia. In the early 1980s, he served as Vice President for the worldwide operations of AMAX. After a brief stint at a law firm, Dempsey co-founded a merchant bank called the Denver Mining Finance Company. In later years, he founded one of the first and most successful mineral royalty firms, Royal Gold, Inc. Dempsey continues to serve as a consultant, and is a longtime supporter and leader in many mining associations, including the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America and the National Mining Hall of Fame.

Global Mining and Materials Research Project

For over twenty years, the Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) produced in-depth oral histories of members of the mining community, under a project called “Western Mining in the Twentieth Century,” which was overseen by ROHO interviewer Eleanor Swent. The 104 interviews in the project covered the history of mining in the American Southwest, Mexico, South America, and Australia from the 1940s until the 1990s.

ROHO has recently changed its name to the Oral History Center of the Bancroft Library, and with that change we proudly announce a new project entitled “Global Mining and Materials Research,” which will focus on key transitions in technology, policy, and geopolitics that have brought mining to its current state worldwide.

Much has changed in mining industries in the years since the Western Mining project was in full production, including the increased globalization of mining operations, the decreasing concentration of mineable minerals in ore, increasingly complicated regulatory environments, new systems of environmental remediation, new technology for exploration, extraction, and processing, and new stories of political conflict and resolution. In addition to collecting interviews about mining engineering, metallurgy, and administration, we also hope to explore the history of information technology and data analysis with respect to mining, as well as the legal, regulatory, and policy history of the industries.

This interview was funded with support from the American Institute of Mining Engineers, Metallurgists, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME), the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST), the Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society (TMS), and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). We are also collaborating with the IEEE to host these oral histories on the Engineering and Technology History Website.

Thanks also to former Western Mining Project Lead Eleanor Swent, Dr. Douglas Fuerstenau, and Noel Kirschenbaum for their advice and support while the Global Mining Project was being established. Finally, we are most grateful to Stanley Dempsey for taking time out of a busy schedule to speak to us about the evolution of the mining industry over the past forty years.

Paul Burnett, Oral History Center

From the Oral History Center Director: Martin Meeker, our New Director, Recalls His First Interview

Recently I was asked, “What was the first interview you conducted?” After a moment mentally scanning through college and grad school research projects, I realized that I undertook my first proper interview years earlier, when I was a junior at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California. Entirely out of step with my Catholic school education, I choose to write my junior year research paper on that recently departed rock ‘n roll alien David Bowie.

The teacher insisted that we conduct an interview “with a real expert” as part of the research process. Not being the most ambitious student, I was at a loss: who did I know that might qualify as an expert? A friend of a friend was a die-hard fan, but even then I knew that choice wouldn’t win me any rave reviews. I had been reading a recently published biography of Bowie and resolved to try to locate the author, Jerry Hopkins. I sent a note and then called his New York publisher a few times. Finally I got someone on the line and asked, “Can I have Jerry Hopkins’s contact info? I want to interview him.” The voice on the line hesitated and said something like, “Oh, Mr. Hopkins. He lives in Hawaii. But we cannot give out contact information for our authors. Please send us a note and we’ll forward it to him.”

In hindsight I suspect that deadlines were looming and I certainly knew mail was slow. Armed with that one vague piece of information, I called information in Hawaii and, sure enough, there was a Jerry Hopkins of Honolulu listed. I called and left a message, explaining my project (and hoping that this was the correct Mr. Hopkins). A few days later, Hopkins kindly returned my call. At the beginning of what I remember to be a long and substantial conversation, I admitted that I was incredibly nervous. Hopkins was kind, telling me that he “still gets anxious” when doing interviews. With those reassuring words, I immediately found my footing and I began my first interview.

Yes, I enjoyed the experience of discussing Bowie with a bona-fide expert, but never did I imagine that interviewing would become my career — my vocation. I arrived at the Oral History Center (then known as the Regional Oral History Office) as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2003 and then a year later began as a historian/interviewer. Since that time I’ve had the opportunity to work of many, varied projects — from Kaiser Permanente to federal fiscal policy — and interviewed well over 100 individuals (many for long, life-history interviews of a dozen hours or more). The experience of conducting these interviews has taught me much about scores of different topics. Perhaps what has become clearest to me through the years is simply how much I enjoy the interview process, hearing different stories, and doing my best to get people to think about their own lives and contributions in sometimes new and unique ways. So, now I get the opportunity to lead the place that has given me so much.

In the months ahead I will begin to lay out my agenda for the coming years (in this newsletter and on our blog), but for now I just want to thank those who have supported me — and the Oral History Center — up to this point and invite you to join me in looking ahead to the next chapter. My office is always open to people who want to engage with us, learn more about interviewing, or just talk history.

And in closing I want to offer my sincere and profound gratitude to Neil Henry, the outgoing director of the Oral History Center. Neil came aboard at a particularly challenging time for the office and provided sage leadership, always with good humor and a gentle touch. I learned a lot from him over the past few years and wish him the best in his well-earned retirement. Thanks, Neil!

Martin Meeker
Charles B. Faulhaber Director of the Oral History Center

Oral History Center — and Bancroft Library — Open House Friday 2/26!

This Friday — February 26th — the Oral History Center along with The Bancroft Library overall welcomes you to our annual open house. In addition to exhibits of rare and fascinating items from the archives, Oral History Center historians will be presenting on four major oral history projects: Rosie the Riveter, West Coast Cocktails, Chicago Economists, and Freedom to Marry. All presentations are set to take place in the Oral History Center conference room, Bancroft 267, on the first floor of the Bancroft Library.

Schedule for Oral History Center speaks at The Bancroft Library Open House

Two Pioneering Women in California Wine: Zelma Long and Margrit Mondavi

We are pleased to release two new oral histories today as part of long-running series on the history of the California wine industry. Many know Margrit Mondavi as the wife of Napa Valley great Robert Mondavi, but what you might not know that she herself had a major impact on the wine industry: she was an early leader in innovative strategies to educate Americans about wine, food, and culture and to market California wine to taste-makers around the globe. Zelma Long, who we first interviewed in 1991, has left in indelible mark on winemaking in California through key posts at Robert Mondavi, Simi, and Chandon Estates, and, over the past twenty five years, on the global wine industry through consulting work in Germany, Israel, France, and her own estate, Vilafonte, in South Africa. These two interviews also mark the beginning of what we hope will be a reinvigorated wine oral history project — stay tuned for more!

Margit Mondavi was born in Switzerland in 1925 and raised in northern Italy. She married an American serviceman who brought her to the United States in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, they moved to Napa Valley, where her life?s work would really begin. She joined Charles Krug winery (owned by the Mondavi family) as a tour guide and, while there, pioneered the presentation of performances at the winery. She followed Robert Mondavi when he left Krug and started his own winery. A budding romance followed and she eventually married Mondavi in 1980. In this interview, Margrit Mondavi discusses her contributions to the development of wine education, marketing, and sales; she also discusses her combined interests in wine, food, and the arts, and how she brought those together at the winery.

Zelma Long, born in Oregon in 1945, is an American enologist and vintner. She attended the UC Davis School of Enology and Viticulture and worked for Long Vineyards and Robert Mondavi Winery, which she served as chief enologist during the winery?s 1970s heyday. In 1979 she was hired to be chief winemaker at Simi Winery in Sonoma County, eventually becoming president and CEO of the winery. While planning for her retirement from Simi in 1996, she and her husband, viticulturalist Phil Freese, started Vilafonté winery in post-apartheid South Africa. In a separate interview released in 1992, Long discusses her years at Mondavi and Simi; in this interview, Long reflects on the history of winemaking in California and the role of women in the industry; the focus of this oral history, however, is the building of Vilafonté and her work as a consultant to many wineries around the globe.

Protecting the California Coast: New Interviews with Joe Bodovitz and Will Travis

Just over 50 years ago the California State Legislature established the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). This commission was charged with protecting the San Francisco Bay from unchecked development and with providing access to this great natural resource. In 1972, citizens throughout California voted to establish the Coastal Commission, which had a charge similar to the BCDC but its authority ran the entire coastline of California. Today we are pleased to release to new oral history interviews with two of the most important figures in both of those organizations: Joe Bodovitz and Will “Trav” Travis.

Joseph Bodovitz was born Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1930. He attended Northwestern University, where he studied English Literature, served in the US Navy during the Korean War, and then completed a graduate degree in journalism at Columbia University. In 1956 he accepted a job as a reporter with the San Francisco Examiner, reporting on crime, politics, and eventually urban redevelopment. He then took a position with SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research) where he launched their newsletter. In 1964 he was enlisted to lead the team drafting the Bay Plan, which resulted in the creation of the San Francisco Bay Conversation and Development Commission (BCDC) by the state legislature in 1969. Bodovitz was hired as the first executive director of BCDC. In 1972 he was hired by the newly-established California Coastal Commission to be its first executive director. He left the Coastal Commission in 1979 and shortly thereafter was named executive director of the California Public Utilities Commission, a position he held until 1986. He served as head of the California Environmental Trust and then as the project director for BayVision 2020, which created a plan for a regional Bay Area government. In this interview, Bodovitz details the creation of the BCDC and how it established itself into a respected state agency; he also discusses the first eight years of the Coastal Commission and how he helped craft a strategy for managing such a huge public resource ? the California coastline. He further discusses utilities deregulation in the 1980s and the changing context for environmental regulation through the 1990s.

Will Travis was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1943. He attended Penn State University as both as an undergraduate and graduate student, studying architecture and regional planning. From 1970 to 1972 he worked as a planner for the then nascent San Francisco Bay Conversation and Development Commission (BCDC). In 1972 moved to the newly established California Coastal Commission, where worked in various capacities until 1985. In 1985 Travis returned to BCDC first as deputy director then as the agency?s director beginning in 1995. He retired from BCDC in 2011 and continues to work as a consultant. In this life history interview, Travis discusses his work both the BCDC and the Coastal Commission, focusing on accounts of particular preservation and development projects including the restoration of marshland areas around the San Francisco Bay. The interview also covers in detail Travis?s work documenting the threat of sea level rise as a result of climate change and how the Bay Area might plan for such a transformation.

Ed Ruscha: A New Oral History with the Artist

In partnership with the Getty Trust, we are pleased to release a new oral history with the famed artist Ed Ruscha. Ruscha is an American artist who has specialized in painting, drawing, photography, and books. Born in 1937, Ruscha moved to Los Angeles to attend school at Chouinard Art Institute in 1956. In the early 1960s, he contributed to the birth of “pop art” and his work was featured in the famed 1962 exhibition “New Painting of Common Objects.” In the 1960s, he painted canvases that have since become iconic, including Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights (1961), Standard Station (1963), and Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire (1965?68). A signature of his work has been the use of words and phrases, such as in the paintings Optics (1967), Brave Men Run In My Family (1988), and many more. Ruscha also produced an influential series of books based on his photography of the built landscape of Los Angeles, and his continues to document vernacular Los Angeles through photography to this day. He was represented by the Leo Castelli Gallery beginning in the 1970s and then moved to the Gagosian Gallery, which continues to show the artist today. In this interview, Ruscha discusses his art education and influences and his introduction to the burgeoning art world of 1960s Los Angeles. He reflects on the transformation of art after the 1960s with the rise of conceptual and political art and his continuing interest in painting during that era. Finally, Ruscha discusses changes in the art world in the 1980s and 1990s, retrospective exhibitions of his art, the transformation of Los Angeles, and how artists might think about their legacy.

Edith Kramer, Director Emeritus of the Pacific Film Archive

This week UC Berkeley proudly opens the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive building in downtown Berkeley. As our contribution to the celebrations, we are thrilled to release our interview with Edith Kramer, Emeritus Senior Film Curator and Director Pacific Film Archive.

Kramer has been associated with the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive since 1975 when she joined the staff as Assistant Film Curator. In June 2003, the University of California, Berkeley, awarded Ms. Kramer The Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award. Ms. Kramer holds an M.A. in Art History from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Michigan. She has taught film history at the University of Oregon, UC Davis, and the San Francisco Art Institute. Upon arriving in the Bay Area in 1967, she managed Canyon Cinema Cooperative and was instrumental in the founding of Canyon Cinematheque (now the San Francisco Cinematheque); and she served as Film Curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

In this interview, Kramer discusses the growth of film curation as a profession, the establishment and growth of the Pacific Film Archive, and the transformation of film curation as a result of changes in technology and distribution. Moreover, she details the films that were most influential to her and how she brought those films to audiences in Berkeley and beyond.

Remembering Sylvia McLaughlin

Photo of Sylvia McLaughlin

With the death of Sylvia McLaughlin on January 19 at age 99, the Bay Area environmental movement has lost one of its preeminent founding figures. At the Oral History Center, we knew Sylvia as a generous narrator in two oral histories and a donor to the Bancroft Library of her extensive personal papers; taken together, these documents tell the story of a half-century of pioneering activism to protect the San Francisco Bay. We also remember her with gratitude as a supporter and advisor for myriad oral history projects on environmental and water resources history as well as the history of the western mining industry.

In 1961, Sylvia, wife of UC Regent and mining executive Donald McLaughlin, joined with two other prominent UC-connected women, Catherine Kerr, the wife of UC President Clark Kerr, and Esther Gulick, wife of a Berkeley economics professor, to do something about the deplorable state of the San Francisco Bay: “We could see the dump trucks going down and filling the bay constantly. . . . It was a dump,” recalled Sylvia in her 2007 oral history. The three women formed Save San Francisco Bay Association and began a campaign not only to halt further degradation of the bay but also to return privately owned shoreline lands to public ownership and to restore them for public use as parklands and wetlands. They proved to be amazingly effective, drawing on university experts, energizing a broad swath of public opinion, organizing citizen caravans to lobby in Sacramento, and eventually getting a groundbreaking regulatory body, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan. In his book on the development of the Bay Area’s environmental consciousness, Berkeley geography professor Richard Walker credits the three women: “Nothing was more essential to the foundation of the Bay Area’s green culture. It all goes through Save the Bay.” [Richard A. Walker, The Country in the City: the Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area, University of Washington Press, 2007].

Sylvia joined the organization’s co-founders in 1985 for an oral history conducted by Malca Chall looking back at their first twenty-five years working together, in Save San Francisco Bay Association, 1961-1986. In 2007, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sylvia for an eight-session biographical oral history. This time she reflected on her family and formative years in Denver, Colorado, and more than forty-five years of activism in the Bay Area and beyond. She discussed the incredible network of local, national, and international environmental organizations that she had helped to found, served on the boards of, acted as trusted spokesperson and advisor for, and attracted new activists to. In Citizen Activist for the Environment: Saving San Francisco Bay, Promoting Shoreline Parks and Natural Values in Urban and Campus Planning, she sums up her keys to successful advocacy: “These things take time, but persistence as well. . . . Determination. Never give up. And then it’s always helpful to have good leadership along the way.”

We will all miss Sylvia McLaughlin’s eternal vigilance and determination, as well as her vision, quiet persuasiveness, willingness to listen to opposing views, and genuine concern for both people and the environment. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 2 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way in Berkeley. Memories and condolences may also be left at

Ann Lage
Interviewer Emeritus
Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

Introduction to Oral History Workshop: March 11, 2016

The Oral History Center will be holding our 2nd annual spring workshop on Friday March 11, 2016 on the UC Berkeley campus. This workshop is designed for people who are interested in an introduction to the basic practice of oral history and serves as a companion to our more in ­depth Advanced Oral History Institute held in August.

This workshop will focus on the “nuts­ and­ bolts” of oral history including methodology, ethics, practice, and recording. It will be taught by our seasoned team of oral historians and include hands­-on practice exercises. Although space is strictly limited, everyone is welcome to attend the workshop, including community-­based historians, teachers, genealogists, public historians, and students in college or graduate school. The cost is $125, which includes lunch.

Registration is open now here!

Please contact Shanna Farrell at with any questions.

Photo of Shanna Farrell teaching at 2015 Spring Workshop

Shanna Farrell
Oral History Center
The Bancroft Library