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Free Speech Movement Oral History Project

About the Project
Interview Transcripts

Ellen and William Sewell

Conducted by Lisa Rubens in 2000, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2014.


Photo of William SewellWilliam Sewell

Ellen and William Sewell were married graduate students: she in political science; he in history. They were both active in the Graduate Coordinating Council. They offer vivid accounts of the sit-in around the police car on Sproul Plaza, focusing on what they saw as a transformative moment in the political life of the campus. They reflect on: Steve Weissman’s leadership of the GCC; organizing the campus-wide strike; media mis-representation of the strike; the role of humor in the movement; the general excitement that pervaded the events. Ellen discusses barriers faced by women graduate students. William discusses the impact of FSM on his later scholarship on French history and on revolutions.

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