Carnegie Mellon University Oral History Program

Anita Newell and Kate Barbera viewing archival materials

As Assistant Archivist for the university, I have the honor of conducting and recording oral histories with members of the CMU community. Carnegie Mellon is well-known for its creative and innovative talent, from the pioneering work of Herbert Simon and Allen Newell to the dramatic talent of student performers in Scotch ‘n’ Soda. We launched the Carnegie Mellon University Oral History Program early last year in hope of capturing first-hand the stories and experiences of students, faculty and alumni who lived historic moments—think StoryCorps with an academic edge. We record these conversations and preserve them in the University Archives for future generations, and all of the recordings are openly available for anyone to research and study.

Special Collections Highlight: Jacob Lawrence

“A Class in Shoemaking” painting by Jacob Lawrence

Given to Carnegie Mellon University in 1987 by two local Pittsburgh collectors, Jacob Lawrence’s 1947 tempera painting, “A Class in Shoemaking” clearly shows his pictorial style that he called “dynamic cubism,” with jagged compositions in bold, flat colors that are abstract yet figurative, and full of social comment. Often in his career, he painted tradespeople, craftspeople and laborers hard at work in many fields.

Ask An Archivist - Answers!

Postcard depicting CMU campus

Thank you to all of us who joined us for our #AskAnArchivist Day celebrations.  I know everyone has been on pins and needles waiting to find out the truth behind our trivia questions.

1.    During World War I there were tanks on the Cut, soldiers in Schenley Park, and airplanes where Hunt Library is.

Frozen Orange Juice, Air Quality, and Fertilizer: Digging into the History of Mellon Institute of Industrial Research

Postcard of Mellon Institute

In 1967, the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research, one of the nation’s premier independent research centers, merged with Carnegie Institute of Technology, a rapidly growing, forward thinking university, to form what we now know as Carnegie Mellon University. By joining the two institutions, the architects of the merger hoped to create an institution that would make Pittsburgh as famous for science as it was for steel [1].