Cal State East Bay professor collecting ‘untold’ university oral stories
When Cal State East Bay professor Linda Ivey thinks about the university’s history, what mostly comes to mind are black and white photos of various presidents signing documents, or Warren Hall imploding.
But she knows there’s so much more. So, Ivey has set out to record and organize the “untold” history of Cal State East Bay.
“The goal of the project, the really big picture, is to create community,” she said. “When you have a shared past, it gives you strength, it gives you dignity … and I think that’s really essential for East Bay students.”
Many important artifacts from Cal State East Bay’s 60-year past are located in the library’s archives and some information is available on the university’s main website, but Ivey wants to see more, especially from women, students of color and other historically marginalized groups on campus.
To do that, Ivey and her students will spend the next year researching and recording the stories of alumni, faculty and staff — both past and current. Their work on the project is being commissioned by Provost Edward Inch as part of the university’s 60th anniversary celebration, and information gathered will make up the bulk of a new website that will serve as a sort of living historical document.
“There is something here that makes the student experience unique, and if we can find that in our campus history and share it with our students today, it will become part of their identity and they can take it with them,” Ivey said.
Focusing on the oral histories of everyday people is a relatively new idea for historians, Ivey said. In the past few decades many, including herself, have found great value in stories of everyday events passed down from generation to generation. It’s through those stories that the sense of shared community and pride is built, and she’s hoping the East Bay stories will be no different.
For example, many California history books talk about the civil and gay rights movements at nearby UC Berkeley, but Cal State East Bay had one of the area’s first vocal gay rights groups on campus. That group set the stage for the inclusivity efforts taking place across campus daily in 2018.
“There are all these different populations who can come here and feel safe and I want to capture those voices,” Ivey said.
Do you have a story you want to share? Or a piece of Cal State East Bay history not many people know about? Email Linda Ivey at firstname.lastname@example.org.