Alumni Oral Histories

The Alumni Oral History Project aims to better understand and share the history of Grinnell College by recording and preserving oral histories with members of the Grinnell College alumni community. This collection of oral histories was recorded between 2009 and the present as part of the annual alumni Reunion weekend event.

Alumni oral history interview with Jan Palmer '73. Recorded June 2, 2012.
I think, looking back- well, not looking back, in the present... Grinnell continues to nourish me in a profound way.... I often find myself asking why or asking how else things could be done, or suggesting alternatives and I rarely assume a position without creating some new program within it that wasn't part of the job description, some way of trying to translate part of my vision to the organization.

Alumni oral history interview with Clay Williams '73. Recorded June 2, 2012.
I'm really impressed now there's a lot more advice. There were no advisors then. There was the swimming coach, who was a nice guy. He was the boy's- the men's counselor. That was it. Then there was some student advisors and RAs, who were, you know, 24-year-olds or something, but there were no- there was no advice as far as professional, what to do.

Alumni oral history interview with Avram Machtiger '74. Recorded May 31, 2014.
Well, I had a really cool room my senior year. It's the double window facing 8th Avenue, and because I didn't have a home in the states, this was my home. So, I had.... to like, find places for stuff for summers, for example, you know, friends' basements, garages, so I had a lot of books. I had, you know, a... concrete block and wood bookcase. I had a big Indian printed bedspread on the wall. I had all kinds of English posters.... My big trunk from England was my coffee table. I had millions of records 'cause I was a KDIC DJ..... I had to make it a very home-y room, 'cause that's where I lived.

Alumni oral history interview with Margaret Bogie '76. Recorded 2012.
I think it was really cool on campus, but even afterwards, it doesn't end. It just doesn't end, because it's like this network, and I’m sure you will run into this, other alums, who- especially if you're married to a non-Grinnell spouse- they'll say like, "What is it? Do you people send out Z-waves and attract each other?" 'Cause, you know, you can walk down a street, you know, I could- have your little Grinnell thing on, people will stop you.

Alumni oral history interview with Mark Butterman '76. Recorded June 4, 2010.
I walked out of there exhausted, realizing that maybe I was not above average and that maybe that I had a lot of work to do—but also that it may be a challenge and fun to produce the kind of work that would satisfy a really inquisitive, demanding mind.

Alumni oral history interview with Caryn Chaden '76. Recorded June 5, 2010.
Getting to know people in town and getting to see the town of Grinnell, independent of the college and riding my bike in the middle of the night and riding in the corn fields- in the roads with cornfields on either side at dusk with fireflies, are really important memories for me.

Alumni oral history interview with Nancy Ganschaw Frakes '76. Recorded June 4, 2010.
This is still such a beautiful, peaceful campus in a lovely small town. It’s a little haven in the midst of the cornfields. And on that note, I’ll stop. It’s been a…what a long strange trip it’s been. I never had any idea what I was getting into when I came here. I’m so glad I did.

Alumni oral history interview with Paul Scott Stanfield '76. Recorded June 4, 2010.
Don Smith, who was in the history department in those days, particularly impressed me because he treated us—he took us seriously—he treated us as grown-ups. He didn’t expect us to be experts, but he treated us, not as peers or equals, but as historians, so to speak, who had an obligation to be honest and rigorous and scholarly and he had such a, sort of, gentle and gentleman-ly way of maintaining high standards that he made a tremendous impression on me.

Alumni oral history interview with John Aubry '77. Recorded June 2, 2013.
A bunch of other Russian House people there and we started talking about, "What if we were to have like, a ball? You know, like a grand Rousseau, Franco-Russian Imperial Waltz. Wouldn't that be cool, you know? And maybe we could get the Margot Triodo to play." They didn’t play, but that was sort of an idea, "and we could do it in the Quad." And we just talked about this, and carried it around, and it happened, and I understand it became a real tradition that continues on.

Alumni oral history interview with B. Ruth Montgomery '77. Recorded May 31, 2013.

Alumni oral history interview with Carol Tuttle Moseson '77. Recorded June 2, 2013.
And so that's so much of what he brought to me, was just that you could be your own authentic person and color outside the lines and just live your life. And... I think that was every bit as important as, you know, the wonderful books and the way of reading and understanding that he taught me.

Alumni oral history interview with Jerome Kujawa '77. Recorded June 1, 2013.
I just think that's a good aspect of Grinnell, that it can be rightly proud of not just that it's the first college west of the Mississippi, and.. but that it has that tradition, and, I think many people- I think they do go on to do things to better the world, which is important.

Alumni oral history interview with Karen Jaeger Weiss '77 and Steve Jaeger '77. Recorded June 1, 2013.
I'd made a poor choice of my first school, so I had to, you know, get- do my major courses and everything else. I was immediately happy once I got into Grinnell. And I- students were very friendly to me, and welcoming, and it was a really good experience.

Alumni oral history interview with Andreas Vassilos '78. Recorded June 1, 2013.
My spelunking buddy and I, we discovered the tunnels underneath the sidewalks, and we broke into the dining hall. We lowered ourselves in through a window that we found out didn't have a lock on it, so we used to go in at night, and-- and break in and get ice cream, and to the halls, the dining halls.

Alumni oral history interview with Ellen Liebman Glatstein '79 and Ann Lion '78. Recorded June 1, 2013.
There was a really cool vibe on campus at that time. Everybody was just honest, and nobody locked the-- their dorms, the loggia was never locked, people's rooms were never locked, cars were never locked, and there was a sense of pride that we all had confidence that nobody would ever lose anything. And I don't remember one theft during my time on campus.

Alumni oral history interview with Steve Moyer '79. Recorded June 1, 2013.
I am here to tell the story of what I understand to be the only impeachment of a House President in Grinnell. I don't have the scholarship to back up the notion that it might be the only one, but I've asked an awful lot of alums, and nobody else can ever remember one, and it was... one of the more memorable events that happened in my Grinnell career, because it happened to me.

Alumni oral history interview with Kathryn Kretzmann Prager '79. Recorded May 31, 2013.
I think the gift of our liberal arts education is that it gives you the ability to look over your options and say: "Okay, well.." y'know, "perhaps this didn’t work. Maybe it’s time to look at doing something else." And if you do well at Grinnell and you decide to go on to grad school, a lot of doors open for you just because of that.

Alumni oral history interview with Gregory Kaiser Youtz '79. Recorded May 31, 2013.
I came to Grinnell College because I was looking for a place that was very different form where I grew up. I grew up in Washington D.C., went to an all-boys school, very conservative, very preppy, and... very political-- lots of politics going on there-- and I really didn't want that at all, so when I looked at colleges, I looked for something that was pretty much the antithesis of that, and I found it here.

Alumni oral history interview with John Malkinson '79. Recorded June 5, 2011.
Actually, the first memory I have is the first day of Orientation, being with four students that I hadn't- I had just met for the first time and the President of the College drove up in a golf cart with a keg on the back, and poured each of us a beer and talked to us for twenty minutes. I had- I'd never been around anything like that before. It was very surprising and for the first time I really realized right then it was going to be an interesting four years.

Alumni oral history interview with Ed Senn '79. Recorded June 5, 2011.
We would have dinner with Professor Mendoza from the biology department, with Scott McMurry, Mary Brant, or we would have cocktails with Dick Cervene, who was an art professor here. He's the one that taught us how to make martini and to drink it out of a crystal glass. There was so much spirit or camaraderie that was... made it such a special place. It's still a special place, and I know that, or my hope is that the students today, that each generation has its own experience here which causes them to value life and friendships.