Trexler Library serves as the repository for a growing collection of oral histories collected by students, faculty, and staff of Muhlenberg College. Currently, our oldest collection is the John S. Davidson Oral History Collection, an effort by the History Department in the 1970s and 1980s to capture the stories of Muhlenberg faculty and administration who had experienced the College during the heart of the twentieth century. That collection has been digitized and is steadily being published.
We regularly collect oral histories from alumni discussing their eras at the College, and occasionally focus on a particular topic, such as our Diversity History collection.
- In 2015 and 2016, the Muhlenberg Memories Project team interviewed Muhlenberg alumni from the World War II era, including men who were part of the Muhlenberg’s Navy V-12 program. From a retired physician’s memories of being both a V-12 and pre-med student on guard duty to a gunner’s anecdotes about fighting the Germans in mid-air, these intimate interviews illustrate the idiosyncrasies of young men coming of age in the turbulent 1940s. These oral histories give us a window into the lives of active duty men as they served across the globe.
- These interviews were collected in 2021 as part of an independent study project conducted with the Muhlenberg Memories Project team. Samantha Brenner '21 and Hailey Petrus '23 intervewed alumni and students, and the collection also includes interviews with staff and faculty members. The goal of the project is to shed light on the historical and ongoing efforts toward diversity, equity, and inclusion at Muhlenberg College.
John S. Davidson, librarian at Muhlenberg College for thirty-three years, originally conceived of the idea to capture the oral histories that would tell the story of Muhlenberg in the twentieth century. This project, undertaken between 1972 and 1987, was named in his honor. It was implemented by Dr. Katherine Van Eerde, professor of history, who appears as the interviewer on many recordings, along with Dean Philip Secor.
Contributors to the oral history project include Davidson; biology professor Dr. John V. Shankweiler; Dean of Women Anne Nugent; librarian Mary Funk; music professor Harold K. Marks, Class of 1907; President John Morey; and many more.