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Stanford Stories from the Archives

To celebrate the university’s 125th anniversary the Stanford University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, presents Stanford Stories from the Archives, featuring letters, photographs, publications, objects, and ephemera that show the evolution and unique aspects of student life on the Farm. The primary exhibition and three smaller satellite shows will be mounted in Green Library and the Arrillaga Alumni Center.

Opening October 6, 2016, exhibit cases in the Green Library Rotunda explore specific topics central to the Stanford experience: Student Traditions, Activism, Housing, Overseas Study, and Fieldwork. Those in the adjacent 2nd floor Peterson Gallery examine student life decade by decade beginning with the Pioneer Class. The south lobby of Green Library’s east wing features a display of “Stanford Athletic Firsts.” Beginning October 20, 2016, “Stanford Innovators” will be on display in the Bender Room, and the Arrillaga Alumni Center will feature “Incomparable: The Stanford Band.”

By exploring the decade-by-decade cases reaching back to 1891, viewers will witness how profoundly changed student life today is compared to the University’s early years. Back then, co-founder Jane Stanford invited students to socialize in her home (“Only students expected / Dancing,” she wrote in a handwritten letter to President David Starr Jordan in 1903), enrollment was tuition-free, and cars were politely discouraged beyond the entrance gates to prevent the horses from spooking. Racial and ethnic diversity was minimal: the vast majority of students were of Caucasian descent (the Pioneer class boasted a single African American and a handful of Japanese American students, all male), and a curfew and strict code of conduct regulated the lives of coeds. The ban on automobiles was lifted in 1914, tuition in the amount of $40 per quarter was introduced in 1920, and the student body gradually diversified, in large part due to student activist demands beginning in the 1960s. Social regulations for female students endured into the mid-1960s, when a rent strike forced the university to allow off-campus housing for women.

Despite the significant differences between Stanford student life of yore and of today, similarities abound, especially concerning student engagement with and responses to natural and world events: earthquakes, floods, wars, and racial, sexual, and economic injustices to name a few. As evidenced by the holdings of the University Archives, then as now, Stanford students get involved. On display are a student pass-card for participation in San Francisco relief efforts following the 1906 earthquake and fire, a WWI volunteer ambulance corps application and arm patch for those who served on the front lines, and photographs of WWII military training in the heart of campus, as well as students picketing on the library lawn against nuclear testing in the late 1950s. Vietnam War-era opposition to conscription and weapons research, civil rights, activism, and the beginnings of sexual liberation and gender politics are represented in artifacts such as a 1966 mimeographed flier voicing impassioned opposition to selective service testing, a handwritten letter from the student-initiated Stanford Sexual Rights Forum to Stanford News Service Director Bob Beyers, informing him of the group’s intention to demand access to birth control and support the rights of homosexuals, and a typescript of the “ten demands” issued by members of the Black Student Union following the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Traditions and student amusements, entertainment, and creative endeavors get exposure throughout the exhibit, but a strong current of social activism, and of students taking charge of charting the direction of their own educations, runs through the Stanford Stories from the Archives: 1891–2016 exhibit in Green Library’s Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda.

The curatorial team for the primary exhibit has selected for display documents, photographs, and audiovisual clips, by turns charming and alarming by contemporary standards, that reflect the attitudes of their time, attest to the comparative simplicity of campus life a century or even a half-century ago, invite discussion, and challenge viewers—in looking back at how things were and how and why they’ve changed—to consider what’s ahead.

The Archives has partnered with graduate students in the Documentary Filmmaking program to create a short virtual reality film titled “Moments of Innovation: A Stanford Virtual Experience,” which weaves Stanford past and present into a unique visual experience. The movie will be viewable on YouTube and on an Oculus Rift in the David Rumsey Map Center, located on the 4th floor of Green Library Bing Wing and open weekdays from 1-5 p.m.

An online version of Stanford Stories from the Archives will be live at as of October 6, 2016.

Subtext to the telling of these stories is an earnest request that alumni and other members of the Stanford community consider donating—or loaning for selective scanning—materials related to their time on the Farm: scrapbooks, photographs, letters, fliers, audio and video recordings, among other formats. Student life represents one of the most difficult aspects of the Stanford experience to document, and as the steward of Stanford’s institutional memory, the University Archives proactively collects these ephemeral stories and materials. “Help ensure your story is told as part of the larger Stanford story” is a prevailing theme of the main exhibit and its satellites. To learn how to share your materials with the Archives, please visit or email

A public reception is planned for Wednesday, October 6 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Green Library Bing Wing Rotunda.


Exhibit cases are illuminated daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gallery is accessible whenever Green Library is open; hours vary with the academic schedule. To confirm library hours, call 650-723-0931 or go to

For a map of campus and transportation information, go to


The exhibition is free and open to the public; first-time visitors and those without Stanford ID must register at the entrance to Green Library before entering the building.

Screen shot of an index map of an area in Japan. It shows an underlying map with rectangles overlayed, each of which represents a more detailed map of that area.

Index maps, a kind of finding aid for navigating large sets of maps geographically, are now available interactively via EarthWorks. The Stanford University Libraries (SUL) have been publishing digitized maps online for many years, and in the past two years georeferenced maps, along with geospatial data, satellite imagery, and aerial photographs have been made more easily discoverable via EarthWorks, but index maps have posed special challenges. Thanks to cooperation between the staff of the Stanford Geospatial Center and the EarthWorks development team in Digital Library Systems and Services (DLSS), these maps are now more easily discoverable and navigable.

Image of John Wayne paper based disc

Earlier this year the Stanford Media Preservation Lab and Conservation Lab were tasked with figuring out how to playback severely warped paper based disc sound recordings. The recordings in question are from a three disc set titled Man-Talk by Three Great Western Stars and each one-sided disc in the set features a single monologue by John Wayne, Bill Elliott, or Johnny Mack Brown.

The Stanford ePADD team has been invited to demo the software at the Computation + Journalism Symposium 2016. Demonstrations will take place on September 30, 5-7 pm, in the courtyard adjacent to Paul Brest Hall on the Stanford campus.

Soon after, in early October, we will head to New York for our partner meeting, to discuss specifications for version 3.0, which is expected to release in February 2017. New York University has graciously offered to host our two-day meeting.
We-tripantu, Cunco, 2014. Hector González de Cunco Photographs

Stanford's libraries house an extensive collection on various aspects of Chilean culture. The personal library of Fernando Alegría, leading exile figure and Stanford professor for over 30 years, gives it in-depth humanities coverage with over 2900 unique titles of chapbooks, first editions and other literary publications. Items are located in the circulating collection with the more rare/unique placed in Special Collections. In addition, the 100 boxes containing Alegria's literary archive document many of the country's socio-political and cultural events before the 1973 coup as well as the exile years. The Hoover Archives also hold several collections from these years.

The Time of the Force Majeure - Helen & Newton Harrison

Today I received a copy of The Time of the Force Majeure: After 45 years, Counterforce is on the Horizon (Munich: Prestel, 2016), a major title on Helen and Newton Harrison, celebrated artists in what has become known as the Eco Art movement. With six critical essays this 464 page retrospective monograph covers their remarkable shared studio practice of forty-five plus years. SUL acquired the Helen & Newton Harrison papers in 2010. The appearance of the Harrisons’ monograph marks an extremely active publication period related to SUL’s more recent acquisitions of artists’ archives.

Lynn Hershman Leeson: Civic Radar (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2016) was published in conjunction with an exhibition held at three venues over 2014-2016 where materials from the Lynn Hershman-Leeson papers were shown, the ZKM, Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, the Deichtorhallen Hamburg/Falckenberg Collection, and the Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg. Two recent monographs draw on the Carolee Schneemann papers. The first is a major monographic treatment, Carolee Schneemann: Unforgiveable (London: Black Dog Pub., 2015), and the second, Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting (Salzburg: Museum der Moderne; Munich: Prestel, 2015), presents an exhibition held at the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (November 2015-February 2016) and publishes materials from the archive.

Sadly, but on a related artists' and collections' note, I report the recent passing of Nathan Lerner, an extremely important American photographer, curator, museum director, educator, founding member of the Society for Photographic Education, and founder in 1969 of the Visual Studies Workshop (Rochester, New York). SUL is fortunate of have recently acquired a considerable treasure trove of early Visual Studies Workshop materials, which includes approximately 125 titles published by the Visual Studies Workshop Press, an extensive collection of ephemera (103 pieces) related to the early years of the VSW, and over 150 original silver photographs, silkscreen prints, offset lithographic prints, xerographic prints, and photo-etchings from VSW students and faculty. These materials offer a glimpse into the early years of the VSW and will certainly provide the visual material necessary for research and publication on Lyons and the Workshop.