Capturing the past through the voice of the people

Bruce Stave: Professor Emeritus of History, Director of the UConn Oral History Office

As a young student, Bruce M. Stave was fascinated with history, of how the past evolved into the present. He has always enjoyed writing, so the combination of writing and history was especially attractive. He found oral history to be extremely well suited in capturing the stories of those originally omitted from earlier written history—women, African Americans, immigrants and ethnic groups, gays, and others who had rarely been in history’s spotlight.

Dr. Stave, who began teaching at UConn in 1970, is Director of UConn’s Oral History Office and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus. He will talk about his career in oral history, which he describes as “a half century of listening to people on a wide array of topics, both prosaic and unusual.” He will explain why oral history has become increasingly popular and how it has been, and is being, changed by technology.

As well as directing oral history projects since the 1970’s that are collected in the archive at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Dr. Stave has authored or edited eleven books, including “The Making of Urban History: Historiography Through Oral History;” “From the Old Country: An Oral History of European Migration to America;” and “Witnesses to Nuremberg: An Oral History of American Participants at the War Crimes Trials.” His latest history book, “Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits: Creating the University of Connecticut, 1881-2006,” was written for the University’s 125th anniversary and uses oral history in conjunction with other sources. For the past dozen years, he served as co-general editor of the “Palgrave/Macmillan Studies in Oral History Series,” which has published over 30 volumes to date, and is considered the leading English language series in oral history.