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Collection Guides

Content section: 

Oral History Center interviews touch upon most every theme of the human experience, so categorization is challenging. Each of our interviews falls into one of the categories listed on the Projects page and interviews are easily found through our Search engine. But some topics of broad interest might still seem buried in out of the way corners of our archive. To help users find the oral histories that match their interests, we have created these Collection Guides. We plan to add to this list and, on occasion, update existing guides.

Find these interviews and all our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. You can search by name, key word, and several other criteria.

African Americans

Betty Reid SoskinOur collection contains a host of hidden gems: interviews with African Americans whose living memories date to the early 20th century at least, and offer first-person insights into the life of a Tuskegee airman, the contours of the West Coast jazz scene, the role of women in the Black Panthers, and much more. Projects and individual interviews address major historical themes in education, culture, law, politics, migration, the military, local history, and public service. 

Read the African American Collection GuideA Host of Hidden Gems: Interviews with African Americans throughout the Oral History Center Collection. (Created in 2020)

The Holocaust 

Hungarian Jewish women and children on the way to the gas chamber at AuschwitzThroughout the Oral History Center's vast collection of interviews are more than 200 that reference the Holocaust. These oral histories document memories of the Holocaust from a multiplicity of perspectives, from the first-hand experiences of Jewish refugees who fled from Europe before it was too late, to Americans who first heard about the atrocities after the liberation of the camps. These oral histories may be particularly interesting to scholars as they provide a different lens for looking at the Holocaust, capturing the histories of those who were being interviewed for other reasons, but nonetheless spoke about the impact of the Holocaust on their lives.

Read the Holocaust Collection Guide, Never Forget? UC Berkeley's Oral History Center documents memories of the Holocaust for researchers and the public. (Created in 2020)

San Francisco History

Bay Bridge under constructionMany of California’s high-profile citizens — from governors and senators to actors, artists and industrialists — have been interviewed by the Oral History Center. And no region is better represented in this collection than San Francisco and the Bay Area. This collection guide on San Francisco history was developed as part of San Francisco History Days, a showcase of local San Francisco history organized by the San Francisco Historical Society. This collection guide features the Bay Bridge Oral History Project and interviews with politicians, including three mayors, civic leaders, environmentalists, jurists, journalists, museum directors, firefighters, scientists, and other trailblazers. There are also videos about how trolly cars made their comeback in the city, and the first African American chief of the San Francisco Fire Department, as well as a podcast series on AIDS and First Responders in San Francisco and panel discussion on Bay Area Women in Politics.

Read the San Francisco History Collection Guide, UC Berkeley Oral History Center Proudly Participates In San Francisco History Days. (Created in 2020)

Veterans of the Armed Forces 

Mary Cohen speaks with soldiersWe proudly have documented the lives and service of hundreds of military men and women in multiple projects throughout our collection. We are aware that those whom we had the chance to interview were those who survived the battles, the wars, the hardships; they returned home, but many others did not. Because they are the ones who lived to tell those stories, we take seriously our role in preserving them for you and future generations to hear. Individual interviews and projects document WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Oral history projects also preserve the voices of those who served on the home front during WWII. 

Read the Veterans of the Armed Forces Collection Guide: Preserving Veteran Experiences for Future Generations. (Created in 2019)

Women of the University of California 

March Fond Eu smashes toiletWe have conducted hundreds of oral history interviews with University of California women — alumnae, faculty, staff, administrators, and philanthropists. In honor of the 150th anniversary of women at Berkeley, we have created a comprehensive collection guide to these oral histories — containing more than 260 interviews. Reaching back to the class of 1895, these women were influential as educators, labor organizers, suffragists, child advocates, community organizers, novelists, artists, and much more. The guide can be downloaded or copied, and is fully sortable once copied or downloaded. The default sort is alphabetical by last name. Women related to UC campuses other than Berkeley are highlighted in gray.

View the Women of the University of California collection guide. (Created in 2020) For related content (podcasts and articles), see the oral history page of the UC Berkeley Women 150 website. 

Find these interviews and all our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. To browse the entire Oral History Center collection, please see the Projects page.