CSUF’s oral history center celebrates 50 years of sharing stories

(November 29, 2018)

The oral history program at Cal State Fullerton got its start in 1968 capturing the voices of administrators and faculty members.

Fifty years later, the archives at the Lawrence de Graaf Center for Oral and Public History are full of narratives from local and state politicians, Latina community activists, Marines who served at the former El Toro base, immigrants from Europe and Mexico and lots of Orange County residents with a story to tell.  Natalie Fousekis, director of the center for 10 years, said she is proud of the maturity and diversity of voices.

Fousekis and her colleague, Margie Brown-Coronel, are also writing a grant to get funding for an exhibit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. The student-curated exhibit will focus on the role Southern California women played in the state and national suffrage campaign as well as their political contributions to the region in the post World War II period.

The exhibit will open at the Fullerton Arboretum in August or September 2020.  Fousekis and her colleagues are also hoping plans move forward to relocate the center to a site with double the space on the library’s sixth floor. The new location would have a room for collaborative student projects, a climate-controlled room for archival processing, a conference room that doubles as exhibition space and an expanded reading room for students, community members and scholars, according to the center’s website.

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the center a $425,000 challenge grant to support the relocation and expansion. The college has raised about $2 million, including the $1 million donated by de Graaf, for the project, Fontaine said. Plans would be to start work in March and to move in January 2020, she said.

The Orange County Register