Oral Histories

Three Former Berkeley Mayors

Shirley Dean
Loni Hancock
Gus Newport

Born in Berkeley

John Aronovici is a fourth-generation Berkeleyan. His grandmother, Dr. Leonore Ginno, was the first Berkeley woman dentist; his grandfather was a pioneering city planner, and his mother Elizabeth Ginno and stepfather John Winkler were noted artists. Among other things, John recounts stories he heard as a boy about the 1923 Berkeley fire and his own memories of the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island. John, the longtime manager of the Berkeley Historical Society, was interviewed by Jacque Ensign.

Ruth Hayashi was born in Berkeley in 1933 and lived at The Cedars at 1301 Oxford Street until she and her mother were interned at Topaz internment camp in Utah from 1942 to 1945. Ruth and her mother returned to Berkeley at the end of the war, where Ruth graduated from Berkeley High in 1951. In this interview, Ms. Hayashi focuses on the Japanese-American experience in Berkeley before and after the war. ​The ​​interview ​was conducted on November 3, 2015​ by ​Berkeley High School seniors Amy Li​ (interviewer) and Mylena ​​Guzman (videographer).​


Berkeley Co-op

Vangie Elkins Buell is a Filipino American who was a co-founder of the Berkeley Co-op’s Kiddie Korral, longtime Berkeley Co-op assistant education director, and lifelong folk singer and guitar teacher. She speaks about some of the Co-op’s many innovations in consumer education and advocacy. The interview by Michael Fullerton is supplemented with photos and music.

Jane Lundin served as president of the board of the Berkeley Co-op in the 1970s and was involved in some of the smaller cooperatives in Berkeley, including a newspaper and a taxi service that never got going; Books Unlimited, where she served on the board that was forced to close it; and the Arts and Crafts Co-op (ACCI) that continues in operation to this day. Interviewed by Michael Fullerton.

For more Berkeley Co-op oral histories, see also the printed transcripts and online transcripts lists below and this book we have for sale:


Free Speech Movement – UC Berkeley Faculty

Peter Dale Scott, Professor Emeritus, English Department, UC Berkeley, faculty supporter of the Free Speech Movement, poet, anti-Vietnam War activist, political writer. Interview September 16, 2014 by Jeanine Castello-Lin; video by Tonya Staros.

Leon Wofsy, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Molecular and Cell Biology/Immunology, UC Berkeley, faculty supporter of the Free Speech Movement and active voice for peace in the Vietnam War era and following.


Intersecting Histories

The Vietnam War

Minh Le. Interviews with Minh Le, former high-ranking Vietnamese diplomat, from war-time childhood in Vietnam, to refugee, to life in the Bay Area.

Part I, 1937-54, WWII, French Withdrawal
Part II, 1954-68, Joining the diplomatic service, Tet Offensive
Part III, 1969-75, Diplomatic Service in Saigon, Fall of Saigon
Part IV, 1975-2017, Making a life in the Bay Area

Fleeing the Holocaust

Paul Salz. Kindertransport refugee, arrived in the Bay Area in 1948, reuniting with parents after nine years; worked as an engineer at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Interview by Jeanine Castello-Lin and Tonya Staros.

Part I: Czechoslovakia 1924-29; Kindertransport; Refugee in England, RAF in Ceylon
Part II: Arriving in America; International House; Lottie’s story: escape from concentration camp

Communists in the United States

Leon Wofsy, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Molecular and Cell Biology/Immunology, UC Berkeley, faculty supporter of the Free Speech Movement and active voice for peace in the Vietnam War era and following. Interview by Jeanine Castello-Lin; video by Lise Aftergut, 2014.

Part I, 1931-33
Part II, 1933-45
Part III, 1945-91

Digitized oral history transcripts about the Berkeley Co-op: