Preliminary Guide to the Waldo Phelps Oral History

Processed by D. Tambo
Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9010
Phone: (805) 893-3062
Fax: (805) 893-5749
© 2006
Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Title: Waldo Phelps Oral History
Date (inclusive): 1993
Collection number: OH 75
Extent: 5 audio cassettes ()
Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Physical location: Audiocassettes (PA)
Language of Material: Collection materials in English

Access Restrictions


Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

Preferred Citation

Waldo Phelps Oral History. OH 75. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Acquisition Information

June Behrens, 1993.


The following biographical sketch is taken from the In Memoriam section of UCLA Today, v. 24, no. 11 (March 23, 2004):
Waldo W. Phelps, professor of rhetoric, died Jan. 31 in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 85.
He was born on June 15, 1918 at Stanford University Hospital in San Francisco to Margaret Ann Livengood Phelps and Clarence Lucien Phelps. Soon after his birth the family moved to Santa Barbara when his father became president of The State Normal School of Home Economics and Industrial Arts, later to become Santa Barbara State College, the predecessor to UCSB. Later in life, Waldo often wrote about his father's accomplishments, and enjoyed spending time at the former site of the College on Santa Barbara's Riviera hillside, reminiscing about the years of his father's tenure there.
Waldo attended the State College Elementary School, La Cumbre Junior High School and graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1936. In 1940, he took an A.B. degree in education and a secondary school teaching credential from Santa Barbara State College, where he had been the first president of Blue Key, a national men's service fraternity. Waldo received a M.A. degree with a major in speech communication from the University of Denver in 1941, and enlisted in the Navy in 1942. After his discharge, he married Dorothy Ann Depweg, whom he had met at Santa Barbara State College.
Phelps received his Ph.D. in rhetoric and public address from USC in 1949. His career at UCLA started in 1949, and spanned that university's formative decades of growth and rise to prominence. He was a familiar figure at UCLA's most important public ceremonies, often serving as master of ceremonies as the University hosted world leaders. In 1979, he was honored by the UCLA Alumni Association with a University Service Award.
His retirement to Santa Barbara saw him take a more active role in the Riviera Chapter of the UCSB Alumni Association, and he became a strong and enthusiastic supporter of Santa Barbara City College as well. Phelps was pre-deceased by his first wife of 54 years, Dorothy Ann Depweg Phelps, and his second wife, Nancy Kern Phelps.
He is survived by his daughter, Margaret Ann Phelps of Los Angeles; daughter, Marilynn Phelps McNamara and son-in-law, Jim McNamara of Cape Town, South Africa. At his request, there will be no memorial service but well-wishers are requested to recall Phelps' life-long dedication to higher education, and to honor his memory by supporting California's colleges in whatever ways they can.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection contains five audiocassettes of interviews recorded with Waldo Phelps, by June Behrens, re his life history, beginnings of Santa Barbara Normal School, and retirement in Santa Barbara. UCSB Phelps Hall is named after his father, Clarence Phelps.
Listening copies of the tapes are available. There are no transcripts.

Collection Contents

A/V Item A8586/CS

Tape 1 (Aug. 26, 1993): Santa Barbara State Normal School, 1909-1930s; Waldo Phelps, 1930s-1940s

A/V Item A8589/CS

Tape 4 (Dec. 9, 1993); Waldo Phelps, 1936-1949; 1949-

A/V Item A8587/CS

Tape 2 (Aug. 26, 1993): Waldo Phelps, 1940s-present

A/V Item A8588/CS

Tape 3 (Dec. 9, 1993): Waldo Phelps, 1918-1936


Tape 5 (Dec. 9, 1993): Waldo Phelps, with Dorothy; retirement in Santa Barbara