Speaking Out


The recent death of Digby Baltzell served to recall his participation in an unusual oral history project that was active here in the late 1980s. The project's activities took place in the Audio Visual Center then housed in Logan Hall's basement under the direction of Lidia Messmer, the Center's director at the time.

Messmer's "Memories Project" called for the live visual recording of interviews with members of the University community at large. In a sort of free-wheeling question-and-answer format, interviewees were encouraged to recall personalities and events of past times as they related to the University. Some of those taking part are no longer with us.

In the course of the recorded interviews, the talk was wide-ranging. It included Penn's role in the World War II effort, the planning of Penn's campus expansion, and a diversity of subjects. Digby Baltzell, in his inimitable salty style, admiringly recalled the student activism of the '60s.

Others who come to mind are Dr. Jonathan Rhoads, Provost Eliot Stellar, Engineering's Dean Joseph Bordogna, Chaplain Stanley Johnson, College for Women Dean Jean Brownlee, Wharton's Morris Hamburg, Dr. Harold Scheie, Campus Planner Harold Taubin, Fine Arts Dean Holmes Perkins, and the Annenberg School's Charles Lee.

These interviews, recorded on tape, are part of the University Archives now. Their virtue lies in the human dimension they give to documenting the daily activities, the personalities, and the process of change that is a vital part of University life.

Are there still those among us with "Memories" worth recording?

Maurice S. Burrison
Director, Faculty Club Art Gallery


Volume 43 Number 3
September 10, 1996

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