MISSOULA – In celebration of the University of Montana’s 125th anniversary, Archives and Special Collections at UM’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library is highlighting its collection of more than 175 oral history interviews conducted with UM faculty, students, staff and administrators. Many of these interviews are available online via ScholarWorks at https://scholarworks.umt.edu/oral_histories/.
These interviews, which are part of a larger collection of over 2,500 oral history recordings held by the library’s Archives and Special Collections, share information about the history of UM, student life and traditions, changes to the size and funding structures of the University, and the development of departments and programs.
Hannah Soukup, archives specialist in charge of oral histories, said the interviews are full of interesting details not typically found in other records.
“One of my favorite interviews is with former School of Law Dean Robert Sullivan,” she said. “In addition to talking about his career, Sullivan also tells the story of how he negotiated with the Waterford Crystal factory in Ireland to have a chandelier made for the School of Law building.”
An interview with Facilities Services Foreman Herb Torgrimson includes many anecdotes about University building and construction, such as how President Carl McFarland ordered the closure of Maurice Avenue to keep the highway department from running a highway through the middle of campus.
The Mansfield Library has added over 800 oral history interviews to ScholarWorks in the past two years. The interviews cover a broad range of topics beyond University history, including smokejumping, Montana politics, feminism, homesteading, land use, forestry, the Depression years and conservation in Montana. Physical copies of all oral history interviews are available from Archives and Special Collections.
“We are thrilled to make these interviews more easily available to our students and to researchers around the world,” said Donna McCrea, head of Archives and Special Collections.