125 Stanford Stories

NO. 124
Looking Back

Stanford stories from the archives: 1891-2016

This poster advertising a student theatrical was side-splitting humor in 1903.
Sunny Scott/Stanford Historical Society
A female University of California professor urged Stanford not to close the first women's intercollegiate basketball game to male spectators: Many men at Cal supported women's athletics and wanted to see the two teams play.
Stanford University Archives
After the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco, many Stanford students rushed up the Peninsula to help tens of thousands left homeless in the disaster.
Stanford University Archives
This film, digitized in the Archives' online exhibit, was part of Stanford's 1948 alumni outreach. It aimed to reassure viewers that, despite a rush of postwar growth, what they treasured about Stanford had not changed.
Stanford University Archives
In 1947, Freddy Hubbard, an accomplished female member of the Stanford Alpine Club, demonstrates how to break curfew at all-female Roble Hall.
Stanford University Archives
Seven of Stanford's Nobel laureates gathered for this group shot.
Stanford University Archives
Stanford's first professionally designed homepage, launched in 1996 and represented by a screen grab in the exhibit. The designer aimed to evoke the sky above Stanford's red tile roofs. Note the university seal tilted at a rakish angle.
Barbara Wilcox
Muslims and supporters of Black Lives Matter united for this 2012 event.
Stanford University Archives

 Online and in Green Library, memorabilia of daily life document 125 years of idealism, innovation and irreverence

Stanford’s daily life over 125 years is revealed not just in official records, but also in leaflets, diaries, digital files, and other ephemera that prescient Stanfordites chose not to throw away.

Instead, their byproducts of daily life entered the Stanford University Archives. As the stewards of Stanford’s institutional memory, curators and archivists there have assembled an exhibit of stories that that otherwise might not be told – or at least not as vividly or from as many points of view.

The exhibit, Stanford Stories from the Archives: 1891-2016, is in Green Library and Arrillaga Alumni Center and will also be online for an extended period.

The online version includes digitized music, film and speeches. Online users can hear what Ram’s Head Gaieties sounded like in 1955 (not bad – check out the Gilbert and Sullivan treatment of “Hail, Stanford, Hail”). They can even hear founding University President David Starr Jordan expound on “The Spirit of Stanford” in a speech recorded in 1916.

During the Vietnam War era, he April 3 Movement sought an end to classified defense research at Stanford and greater student voice in university affairs.
During the Vietnam War era, the April 3 Movement sought an end to classified defense research at Stanford and greater student voice in university affairs.

“It’s not just about the diversity of voices,” University Archivist Daniel Hartwig told the Stanford News Service, “but the diversity of the materials.

“By including digital materials, we are trying to reflect not just the voices and the students, but also the technology used to transmit the stories,” Hartwig said.

One common thread running through the exhibit is that, almost from the start, Stanford students have sought to shape the university and the world through social action.

“It’s often the role of young people to challenge the status quo, and that certainly has been true of Stanford students going way back,” Becky Fischbach, designer and coordinator for Stanford Stories, told the news service.

Leaflets, posters and flyers reveal Stanford students’ affiliation to causes ranging from parity in women’s athletics to the end of apartheid in South Africa to Hoodies and Hijabs Stand Together.

A 1908 suspension letter documents Stanford’s reaction to the Liquor Rebellion, in which 300 students marched to protest Jordan’s ban on campus alcohol.

When Martin Luther King spoke at Stanford in 1964, the first of two visits to campus, students were galvanized into forming a contingent to travel to the South and push for civil rights. The online exhibit includes video of King’s second Stanford speech, in 1967.

Stanford Stories from the Archives: 1891-2016 also reveals how Stanford as an institution has sought to proclaim its unique identity. Included is a screen shot of Stanford’s first professionally designed web homepage, which went live in 1996. The page wasn’t up for long: For one thing, it was blue. An official explained, in a Stanford Daily story also in the exhibit, that the designer aimed to evoke how the Quad’s red tile roofs stand out against the sky.

University Archives was able to tell these stories because individual Stanfordites told theirs – by giving oral histories and by donating their letters, photos and digital files to the archives.

Many of the veterans and their families lived in Stanford Village, a former World War II-era Army hospital on Middlefield Road in Menlo Park. The buildings still stand today.
Many World War II veterans and their families attended Stanford on the GI Bill and lived in Stanford Village, a former Army hospital on Middlefield Road in Menlo Park. The buildings still stand today.

As Stanford enters its next 125 years, the Archives staff urges current students and young alumni to send in their own materials for preservation – including emails, text messages, tweets and selfies – so that stories can continue to be told.

“We’re trying to make sure that the stories we are collecting are the diverse and inclusive stories that make up a very idiosyncratic campus,” assistant university archivist Josh Schneider told the news service.

To learn how to share your materials with the Archives, visit bit.ly/yourstanfordlegacy or email universityarchives@stanford.edu.