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The Carmel and Howard Friesen Prize in Oral History Research

The Carmel and Howard Friesen Prize in Oral History Research will be awarded to a UC Berkeley undergraduate student. The Friesen Prize comes with a $500 award.

The Friesen Prize will be awarded to the Berkeley undergraduate student who submits the best essay that draws upon Oral History Center interviews. The selection committee will evaluate the submission based on these three criteria:

  • How well oral histories are integrated within and essential to the overall essay
  • How creatively oral histories are used in the essay
  • And the overall quality and persuasiveness of the essay

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library was established in 1954 and since that time roughly 4000 interviews have been completed, transcribed, and made available to researchers. Nearly all interviews are available in transcript form to everyone at the Center’s website: bit.ly/OHC-search. Oral histories have been conducted across a wide range of thematic areas including: arts and literature, science and medicine, social movements and community history, business and labor, politics and government, law and jurisprudence, food and agriculture, and the history of the University of California. Major projects featuring multiple interviews include: the Berkeley Free Speech Movement; the marriage equality movement; Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front; venture capital; Kaiser Permanente and health care; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; mining and the environment; the law clerks of Chief Justice Earl Warren; the Sierra Club; the disability rights and independent living movement; and the Japanese American Confinement Site, to name just a handful.  

The Prize is named for Carmel and Howard Friesen. Carmel and Howard were married for 64 years when Carmel passed away in 2015. Both Friesens attended Berkeley and have supported Berkeley for decades. In 2015, the Friesens granted to the Oral History Center a generous endowment that supports this prize in addition to interviews conducted by the center.

To be eligible to win, applicants must:

Be Berkeley undergraduates at any class level (lower- or upper-division) and in any discipline (including arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences, and engineering) and have completed their research project for a credit course at UCB. 

Applicants must submit an original essay in PDF form with the author’s name, phone number, email address, essay title, and course number and semester for which the paper was written. The essay should be not longer than 15,000 words and should contain appropriate citations.

Questions may be directed to Martin Meeker, Oral History Center Director: mmeeker@library.berkeley.edu.

Submissions are due in April (check back for the exact date) and delivered via email to mmeeker@library.berkeley.edu.

Eligible papers include those from the current academic year, the previous summer, and the previous spring. For example, for the spring 2020 prize, students can submit papers from a class taken in spring 2020, fall 2019, summer 2019, or spring 2019.

The winner will be notified in April as well.

Please note: Federal financial aid regulations require that all awards received by a student can not exceed their financial aid need as determined by a Congressional formula. It is possible, therefore, that the cash award for a Prize could reduce some component of a needy student's package of financial aid awards. In these cases, the Financial Aid Office attempts first to reduce loan or work aid; fellowships, grants or scholarships are only reduced as a last resort. For more information, please contact mmeeker@library.berkeley.edu.