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San José State University Oral History Project Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Contents
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Arrangement
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Processing Information

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: San José State University Oral History Project Collection
    creator: San Jose State University Oral History Project
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.2006.04.01
    Physical Description: 2 boxes (1.4 linear feet)
    Date (inclusive): 2005-2006
    Abstract: This collection contains audio tapes and transcripts documenting the experiences of key administrators and faculty from San José State University. The oral histories described reflect the changes in campus governance, curriculum, and student life from 1952 to the present.

    Scope and Contents

    This Oral History Project documents the history of San José State University (SJSU) from 1952 to the present. The interviews cover a wide spectrum of subjects from student life, faculty and university governance, policymaking, capital campaigns, and changes in higher education in California. Collectively these interviews document the sweeping social, political and economic changes that shaped American society and which thereby transformed academic life and culture at SJSU. The post-war years offered great prosperity and new opportunities for college students in California. The impact of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, forever changed academics and influenced the development of new programs and disciplines, including the formation of New College (1968-1980), an experimental interdisciplinary school, and new majors in African American Studies, Chicano Studies, Asian American Studies, and Women Studies. Changes in curriculum and the diversity of the student body and faculty led to a watershed that moved the institution forward from a small college to a major metropolitan university. The interviews and in particular, the account of Reverend Benton White, professor of religious studies, present some of the challenges the university faced in addressing civil rights on campus and in society. Many of the themes from these interviews shed light on student and faculty strikes during the Vietnam war, the Tommie Smith and John Carlos 1968 Olympics controversy, the development of an ombudsman position to address racial discrimination, and other social justice issues on campus. The tumult of the civil rights movement and anti-war demonstrations on campus mirrored other college and university experiences across the United States, yet laid the foundation for a more democratic and diverse institution.
    This Collection consists of sixteen audio interviews, interview transcriptions, and project correspondence from San José State University Oral History Project, conducted in 2005 and 2006. The interviews were conducted by Dr. Margo McBane, Bonnie Montgomery and Suzanne Guerra. Each interviewee was asked to reflect on their early experiences working at SJSU, to describe key historical events, to discuss changes in policy, and to comment on the how these policies impacted the students, faculty, and administration.

    Biographical / Historical

    San José State University (SJSU) has the distinction of being the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast. The early history of SJSU began in 1857 in San Francisco with the formation of the Minns’ Evening Normal School. The Minns’ Evening Normal School provided the foundation for the formation of the first California State Normal School in 1862 and firmly established the college and university system in the state. In 1870 the campus moved from San Francisco to San José. San José State University’s name has evolved along with the institution. In 1921 San José State Normal School became San José State Teachers College, later renamed San José State College in 1935, later renamed California State University, San José in 1972 when it achieved university status, and finally, San José State University in 1974. From its beginnings as a normal school to train teachers for the developing frontier, SJSU has matured into a metropolitan university offering more than 134 bachelor's and master's degrees with 110 concentrations. The California State University system is the direct descendant of the San José Normal School. The SJSU Special Collections & Archives received a generous donation from Hobert W. Burns, former Academic Vice President, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, to sponsor the San José State University (SJSU) Oral History Project. This donation provided the funding needed to interview key administrators, faculty and staff. These interviews document the history of the university from 1952 to the present, and provide a rich array of personal accounts of student and campus life, faculty and university governance and policymaking.


    The San Jose State University Oral History Project Collection is arranged into three series: Series I. Recordings; Series II. Transcripts; and Series III. Project Records.

    Preferred Citation

    San José State University Oral History Project, MSS-2006-04-01, San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has been assigned to the San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Transcripts and recollections are available for research use. Due to their fragile nature access to the audio tapes is restricted.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Alexandra Lynch, Spring 2017.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    San José State University -- History
    Education -- California -- San Jose (Calif.)
    Oral histories
    Blockhus, Wanda, 1931-
    Douglas, John R.
    Yaffe, Ruth
    Lange, Lester H.
    Male, Mary
    Melendy, H. Brett (Howard Brett)
    Milioto, Samuel
    Moore, George
    Noah, James
    Nobel, Lela
    Norton, Theodore
    Pinson, Jay
    Sivertsen, Wiggsy
    Walsh, James P., 1937-
    White, J. Benton, 1931-
    Whitlatch, Jo Bell
    Guerra, Suzanne
    McBane, Margo
    Montgomery, Bonnie
    San Jose State University Oral History Project