Oral Histories

Interview of Lynn T. White Jr.

UCLA professor of history. Co-founder and president of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).
Subtitle:
Technology, History, Democracy
Topic:
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Faculty
Interviewer:
Harmon, Rick C.
Interviewee:
White, Lynn T. Jr.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Abstract:
Synopses of untranscribed sections of the interview; Lynn White, Sr., a liberal Presbyterian minister; enrollment in Stanford University as an undergraduate in 1924; undergraduate academic interests; embarking on a master's program in comparative religion at Union Theological Seminary; decision to pursue doctoral work at Harvard University; pedagogical influence of Charles Homer Haskins; graduate work; begins work on dissertation topic: Latin monasticism in Norman Sicily; traveling fellowship permits a year's fieldwork in Sicily in 1932-33; political turbulence in Europe forces change in personal plans; job offer at Princeton University and a return to the United States; influence of Alfred L. Kroeber; medieval technology emerges as the topic of lifelong study; case studies of medieval technology; leaves Princeton for Stanford; appointed president of Mills College; Herbert Hoover's spiritual arrogance; Hoover's role as trustee of Mills College; European fascism in the interwar years; historical explanations for German and Italian fascism; isolationism as a political response to American experience of World War I; Educating Our Daughters; traditional assumptions underlying college education for men and women in American society; the character of Mills College in comparison with other prestigious women's colleges; outside appraisal of the Mills College curriculum; red-baiting by the University of California Board of Regents; McCarthy-era slanders; the loyalty oath conflict at Berkeley; the basis of Medieval Technology and Social Change; looking for a new position on nearing fifteenth anniversary as president of Mills College; offer of full professorship at UCLA; UCLA history department faculty in 1958; initial years in teaching and research at UCLA; UCLA chancellors during the late fifties and early sixties; Franklin D. Murphy's great achievement; Berkeley's advantages as an older campus; UCLA's persistent reputation as a communist haven; development of a plan for specialized area studies at the various University of California campuses; decentralization of the University of California campuses in the 1960s; building a library collection; Gustave E. von Grunebaum; systematic strengthening of medievalist faculty; administration support for a Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies; publications of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies; UCLA's center as a prototype; retiring from the directorship; acquisition of the Princeton Index of Christian Art by UCLA; president of the American Historical Association; president of the History of Science Society; campus unrest in the 1960s and 1970s; Charles E. Young as Chancellor Murphy's troubleshooter; the Academic Senate of the University of California; inefficiencies in the operation of the University of California; establishment of a school of engineering at University of California, Santa Barbara; need for central planning in the University of California; complaints and concerns of University of California faculty; periods of expansion and contraction in the university; complementary functions of teaching and research; presidents of the University of California since the firing of Clark Kerr; UCLA Chancellor's Associates "Man of the Year"; retirement; continued associations with the Department of History and the campus; scholarly interests shared with Lynn White III; value of oral history interviews as historical documentation; contribution to changes in medieval historiography; religious beliefs and life history; interplay between religion and technology in various cultures.