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Individual Students Projects

The following individual student papers were all completed by undergraduate students utilizing original oral history interviews, existing oral histories, or both, as key components of their research. Some of the papers include audio excerpts from oral history interviews.
Food and Wine in the Bay Area by Paul Redman

The purpose of this research project was to apply an academic, historical lens to the defining identities of Bay Area celebrity chefs. The project-mentor Vic Geraci and I had hypothesized that the food, décor and overall design of a successful chef's restaurant would reflect the cultural and social norms they employ to form a concept of their own identity. The thesis I have developed from this research is that two overarching themes were most prevalent in both of the chef-subjects we studied; the first was that they both identified strongly with their families, the second that they both traced their love of cooking to an ethnic heritage whose roots stretched to some part of the Mediterranean culture zone.

"The Desegregation of the Oakland Fire Department" by Sarah Wheelock

Unlike most cities in the United States in the early 1950s, the fire department of Oakland had a number of black firefighters serving in the ranks. However, the African American firefighters were restricted to one separate fire house in West Oakland, known as Station 22. Tired of being treated as second class and with the assistance of the NAACP, they began to struggle with the department to allow them to transfer throughout the city, a battle that ultimately involved the highest ranks of the department, the mayor, and ultimately the State Attorney General. The research for this paper was conducted at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley, the California Collection at the Oakland Public Library, and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. Although this paper required hundreds of hours of sifting through documents, without the oral history interviews it would not have been complete. The interviews are not simply interesting illustrations of the story but vital components of the research that ultimately brought all of the pieces into a coherent picture. (Paper includes audio links to researched oral history excerpts.)

"Interpretations of Salir Adelante" by David Washburn

The paper "Interpretation of Salir Adelante" was written in the Spring 2001 for an oral history seminar taught by the director of the Regional Oral History Office, Professor Candida Smith. The course looked at how oral accounts of the past serve as evidence which historians can use to reconstruct a particular event or time period. For the seminar's final project-a paper based on interviews I personally conducted-I chose to study the process of crossing the US/Mexico border. For this I met with two friends of a close friend of mine, Felipe and Salvador, both of whom entered the United States with out documentation. The paper is based on over six hours of interviews with each man. It is an attempt to understand their experiences within a larger historical context of Mexican migration to the United States, as well as an individual context for Felipe and Salvador. The paper focuses on the term salir adelante: how both men use it when describing their motivations for migrating and when expressing a variety of complex emotions. It argues that understanding the uses of salir adelante can assist in framing a discussion on the historic and current motivations driving the Mexican migration to the United States.


Felipe Interview One

Felipe Interview Two

Felipe Interview Three

Salvador Interview One

Salvador Interview Two

Salvador Interview Three

Salvador Interview Four

"Filling in the Holes: A Kibei's Recounting of the Japanese American Experience" by Sayuri Stabrowski.

On the morning of December 7, 1941 a house full of UC Berkeley students awoke to panic. My grandfather, a Cal senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering, remembers waking up that Sunday morning to an uproar. Thirty frantic students crowded around a small radio to hear the latest news: Pearl Harbor, a US military base in Hawaii had been bombed... by Japan. As Japanese Americans, my grandfather and his peers were stunned. Not long after, the United States declared war on Japan, the land of my great grandparents, the land of my grandfather's childhood. In the minds of many, that day was the defining moment for the Japanese American community. It triggered a series of events that culminated in the mass incarceration of the entire community of Japanese and Japanese Americans residing on the West Coast in the spring of 1942. The population was interned in concentration camps for the remainder of the war, but came out as a people ready to start their lives over. For going quietly into camp and for returning successfully to American society, the Japanese American demographic became known to the rest of the nation as the Model Minority. From challenge to triumph, the community has survived despite years of imprisonment, racial prejudice and economic subjugation. Yet this paradigmatic population hides, deep within its history, a gaping hole. The stories of the heroes are there: the decorated soldiers, the civil rights leaders, the politicians. But the story of the resisters is absent. Although recent attempts have been made at apologizing for the maltreatment of the conscientious objectors of World War II, another, larger population of wartime resisters has been blatantly ignored. As a member of the highly controversial and mystical group of dissenters within the Japanese American population known as the No-No Boys, my grandfather's chapter in the community's history is largely unwritten. Born here but raised in Japan, my grandfather is a product of two very different cultures, but an embodiment of both. He is a No-No Boy who refused to pick one homeland over another. He is Japanese and he is American but his story has not been welcomed by his peers. This story, his story, is a discussion of the multifaceted nature of Americanism and the way in which Japanese Americans have had to reconcile their duality as an ethnic minority in order to address the challenges they faced as a community during World War II.

Other current student projects include: Nick Garcia's interviews with Profesor Carlos Munoz of the Ethnic Studies department; Alyce Kalmar's oral history project on the punk scene in San Francisco from 1975-1985; and David Washburn's oral history project on the country western music scene in post World War II Richmond, now the documentary film Broadcast Cowboy, featured at the Berkeley Film and Video Festival and the Oakland International Film Festival.

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Last Updated: 10/10/07

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