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Oral history

Spring 2015

Voices of the Wilderness

I. BREATH

They saw in the water many of the serpent-kind,
wondrous sea-dragons exploring the waters,
such nicors as lie on the headlands,
who, in the mornings, often accomplish
sorrowful deeds on the sail-road,
serpents and wild-beasts.

 

So concludes the epic poem Beowulf. Speaking Old English, storytellers composed Beowulf extemporaneously and shared passages from person to person for thousands of years until they were written down sometime between the eighth and the eleventh centuries. Beowulf is very much a poem about animals, so it’s appropriate to translate its last word, “wilde-or,” as “wild-beasts,” though the word forms … » More …

Tom Brigham with Katy Fry and Herb Nakata at WSU
Fall 2012

Unfiltered history

Tom Brigham, the executive secretary of WSU’s Emeritus Society, stopped by the magazine office some time ago with a box full of interview transcripts, the results of one of the society’s major projects. Had I known how absorbing and distracting the contents would be, I might have been more hesitant to accept delivery.

Seriously, the oral histories contained in the box provide absorbing recollections of WSU history from the early 1950s on. At their best, the interviews combine engrossing storytelling and striking insight. Conducted and transcribed by history graduate student, now instructor, Katy Fry ’06, ’11, the histories provide unfiltered memories of WSU through five … » More …