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).
Technology, History, Democracy
Interviews not in a series, part one
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Faculty
Biographical Note:
UCLA professor of history. Co-founder and president of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).
Harmon, Rick C.
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.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
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.