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NAU History Resources in Special Collections and Archives: Oral Histories

Oral Histories

Special Collections and Archives houses an extensive collection of original oral history interview recordings, in both audio and audiovisual formats. Oral histories are oftentimes seen as helping fill gaps in knowledge not recorded in either textual or photographic manners. Click on the tabs below to review some of the unique oral history interview projects conducted that relate to the institutional history of Northern Arizona University.


Since 2009, Special Collections and Archives has been working on recording interviews with NAU alumni (graduates, faculty, staff) and has over thirty recordings (with associated transcripts) available online via the Colorado Plateau Digital Collections. Interviews from the Lumberjack Timbres oral history project provide myriad perspectives on the history of the institution, as well as the lives of those connected with it.

The NAU Student Veterans Oral History Project is the result of a collaboration between Special Collections and Archives at Cline Library, Student Veterans Services, and student veterans currently attending or who have previously attended Northern Arizona University (NAU). The project began in the spring semester of 2018 and is ongoing as of summer 2022. Its purpose is to record and preserve the unique perspectives of NAU's diverse student veterans as they reflect upon their military service and subsequent transition to civilian life/academia. 

In 2008, Dr. Gary Emanuel, Associate Professor in Educational Leadership established an oral history project focused on the memories of graduates and faculty of Arizona State College/Northern Arizona University. The initial target was individuals involved in campus life from 1960-1969, although the project has expanded to include faculty and students during the years 1934-1979.

Dr. Monte Poen was hired by Northern Arizona University President, J. Lawrence Walkup in 1966 and became part of the Missouri Mafia (those graduates of the University of Missouri who were recruited by Dr. Walkup to teach at NAU). Dr. Poen became a professor in NAU’s history department and a Truman Scholar. As part of NAU’s centennial celebration in 1998, Dr. Poen- who by then was retired Regent’s Professor of History Emeritus- took on the momentous task of recording the life stories of prominent NAU administrators, faculty and benefactors. The recordings became part of a Centennial project hosted by NAU television services. The oral histories in their entirety were donated to Special Collections and Archives, Cline Library, as a way to preserve these invaluable interviews and provide online access for a world-wide audience.

Between 1967 and 1968, author Melvin Hutchinson conducted a series of interviews with then-President of Northern Arizona University, J. Lawrence Walkup. This culminated in his 1972 publication, The Making of Northern Arizona University: A Chronicle. As of 2022, the oral history materials in the Melvin Hutchinson collection have yet to be digitized for online access by SCA staff.