The Gavilan Oral History Archive


When people tell their life stories, things get interesting. Sunny Bassi with interviewee Eda Stimac


Starting in spring 2001, Gavilan students have begun to record the life stories of elders in their families and communities so these can be archived at the college for future scholars and researchers. At left, student Sunny Bassi interviewed lifelong Gilroy resident Eda Stimac, who talked about the Italian-American community, World War II, and her life in a small town.


Students in History 14, The Twentieth Century: An Oral History Approach produced full-length transcriptions of several hours of interviews with five fascinating local elders. Funding is being sought for long-term establishment of the archive, but meanwhile the first transcripts are being accepted by the college library as part of its regular collection. Below right Bonnie Guerra poses with her mother, who told about being a single parent and businesswoman in Santa Clara County. Below left Mineko Hirasaki Sakai, with interviewer Mandy Narey, discussed her father, Jimmy Hirasaki, who pioneered growing garlic in our area. Sakai also talked about internment of local Japanese-Americans during World War II, which her family avoided (with the exception of her prominent father) by moving to the Midwest.

Bonnie Guerra interviewed her motherMineko Hirasaki Sakai with interviewer Mandy Narey

Students interested in contributing to the archive should contact Leah Halper,
Nina Holmes spoke about life in the 60s . The stories recorded by the interviewees shown will soon be avaialble at the Gavilan library.


Nina Holmes, right, played some of her original music at the May 2001 gathering to kick off the archive, hosted by the History 14 class members. Holmes was part of the Peoples' Park and Free Speech Movements at UC Berkeley during the 1960s, then became one of the first female professional jockeys.