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A Career in Mining: Stanley Dempsey on Law, Leadership, Finance, and Community Engagement

Read the full transcript of Stan Dempsey's oral history.

Stanley Dempsey is a geologist, lawyer, executive, and entrepreneur whose interest in the environment and outdoor pastimes led him to spearhead collaborations between the mining industry and activists, which anticipated the environmental legislation of the 1970s. Dempsey was at the forefront of developing the mining industry?s legal and policy responses to environmental regulation during this early period, and became Director of Environmental Affairs for AMAX, Inc., the first position of its kind in the industry. He was responsible for acquiring land positions and for construction contracts for the Climax and Henderson mines in Colorado. He directed the AMAX part of a multinational joint venture in iron-ore mining in Western Australia. In the early 1980s, he served as Vice President for the worldwide operations of AMAX. After a brief stint at a law firm, Dempsey co-founded a merchant bank called the Denver Mining Finance Company. In later years, he founded one of the first and most successful mineral royalty firms, Royal Gold, Inc. Dempsey continues to serve as a consultant, and is a longtime supporter and leader in many mining associations, including the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America and the National Mining Hall of Fame.

Global Mining and Materials Research Project

For over twenty years, the Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) produced in-depth oral histories of members of the mining community, under a project called "Western Mining in the Twentieth Century," which was overseen by Eleanor ?Lee? and Langan ?Lang? Swent, Doug Fuerstenau and others. The 104 interviews in the project covered the history of mining in the American Southwest, Mexico, South America, and Australia from the 1940s until the 1990s.

ROHO has recently changed its name to the Oral History Center of the Bancroft Library, and with that change we proudly announce a new project entitled ?Global Mining and Materials Research,? which will focus on key transitions in technology, policy, and geopolitics that have brought mining to its current state worldwide.

Much has changed in mining industries in the years since the Western Mining project was in full production, including the increased globalization of mining operations, the decreasing concentration of mineable minerals in ore, increasingly complicated regulatory environments, new systems of environmental remediation, new technology for exploration, extraction, and processing, and new stories of political conflict and resolution. In addition to collecting interviews about mining engineering, metallurgy, and administration, we also hope to explore the history of information technology and data analysis with respect to mining, as well as the legal, regulatory, and policy history of the industries.

This interview was funded with support from the American Institute of Mining Engineers, Metallurgists, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME), the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST), the Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society (TMS), and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). We are also collaborating with the IEEE to host these oral histories on the Engineering and Technology History Website.

Thanks also to former Western Mining Project Lead Lee Swent, Dr. Douglas Fuerstenau, and Noel Kirschenbaum for their advice and support while the Global Mining Project was being established. Finally, we are most grateful to Stanley Dempsey for taking time out of a busy schedule to speak to us about the evolution of the mining industry over the past forty years.

Paul Burnett, Oral History Center

Feb 04, 2016 | Categories: OHC Articles | ddunham

Edith Kramer, Director Emeritus of the Pacific Film Archive

This week UC Berkeley proudly opens the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive building in downtown Berkeley. As our contribution to the celebrations, we are thrilled to release our interview with Edith Kramer, Emeritus Senior Film Curator and Director Pacific Film Archive.

Kramer has been associated with the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive since 1975 when she joined the staff as Assistant Film Curator. In June 2003, the University of California, Berkeley, awarded Ms. Kramer The Chancellor's Distinguished Service Award. Ms. Kramer holds an M.A. in Art History from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Michigan. She has taught film history at the University of Oregon, UC Davis, and the San Francisco Art Institute. Upon arriving in the Bay Area in 1967, she managed Canyon Cinema Cooperative and was instrumental in the founding of Canyon Cinematheque (now the San Francisco Cinematheque); and she served as Film Curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

In this interview, Kramer discusses the growth of film curation as a profession, the establishment and growth of the Pacific Film Archive, and the transformation of film curation as a result of changes in technology and distribution. Moreover, she details the films that were most influential to her and how she brought those films to audiences in Berkeley and beyond.

Jan 28, 2016 | Categories: OHC Articles | mmeeker

Remembering Sylvia McLaughlin

Photo of Sylvia McLaughlin

With the death of Sylvia McLaughlin on January 19 at age 99, the Bay Area environmental movement has lost one of its preeminent founding figures. At the Oral History Center, we knew Sylvia as a generous narrator in two oral histories and a donor to the Bancroft Library of her extensive personal papers; taken together, these documents tell the story of a half-century of pioneering activism to protect the San Francisco Bay. We also remember her with gratitude as a supporter and advisor for myriad oral history projects on environmental and water resources history as well as the history of the western mining industry.

In 1961, Sylvia, wife of UC Regent and mining executive Donald McLaughlin, joined with two other prominent UC-connected women, Catherine Kerr, the wife of UC President Clark Kerr, and Esther Gulick, wife of a Berkeley economics professor, to do something about the deplorable state of the San Francisco Bay: "We could see the dump trucks going down and filling the bay constantly. . . . It was a dump," recalled Sylvia in her 2007 oral history. The three women formed Save San Francisco Bay Association and began a campaign not only to halt further degradation of the bay but also to return privately owned shoreline lands to public ownership and to restore them for public use as parklands and wetlands. They proved to be amazingly effective, drawing on university experts, energizing a broad swath of public opinion, organizing citizen caravans to lobby in Sacramento, and eventually getting a groundbreaking regulatory body, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan. In his book on the development of the Bay Area's environmental consciousness, Berkeley geography professor Richard Walker credits the three women: "Nothing was more essential to the foundation of the Bay Area's green culture. It all goes through Save the Bay." [Richard A. Walker, The Country in the City: the Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area, University of Washington Press, 2007].

Sylvia joined the organization's co-founders in 1985 for an oral history conducted by Malca Chall looking back at their first twenty-five years working together, in Save San Francisco Bay Association, 1961-1986. In 2007, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sylvia for an eight-session biographical oral history. This time she reflected on her family and formative years in Denver, Colorado, and more than forty-five years of activism in the Bay Area and beyond. She discussed the incredible network of local, national, and international environmental organizations that she had helped to found, served on the boards of, acted as trusted spokesperson and advisor for, and attracted new activists to. In Citizen Activist for the Environment: Saving San Francisco Bay, Promoting Shoreline Parks and Natural Values in Urban and Campus Planning, she sums up her keys to successful advocacy: "These things take time, but persistence as well. . . . Determination. Never give up. And then it's always helpful to have good leadership along the way."

We will all miss Sylvia McLaughlin's eternal vigilance and determination, as well as her vision, quiet persuasiveness, willingness to listen to opposing views, and genuine concern for both people and the environment. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 2 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way in Berkeley. Memories and condolences may also be left at

Ann Lage
Interviewer Emeritus
Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

Jan 23, 2016 | Categories: OHC Articles | ddunham

Introduction to Oral History Workshop: March 11, 2016

The Oral History Center will be holding our 2nd annual spring workshop on Friday March 11, 2016 on the UC Berkeley campus. This workshop is designed for people who are interested in an introduction to the basic practice of oral history and serves as a companion to our more in ­depth Advanced Oral History Institute held in August.

This workshop will focus on the "nuts­ and­ bolts" of oral history including methodology, ethics, practice, and recording. It will be taught by our seasoned team of oral historians and include hands­-on practice exercises. Although space is strictly limited, everyone is welcome to attend the workshop, including community-­based historians, teachers, genealogists, public historians, and students in college or graduate school. The cost is $125, which includes lunch.

Registration is open now here!

Please contact Shanna Farrell at with any questions.

Photo of Shanna Farrell teaching at 2015 Spring Workshop

Shanna Farrell
Oral History Center
The Bancroft Library

Jan 19, 2016 | Categories: OHC Articles | ddunham

Advanced Oral History Summer Institute: August 15-19, 2016

Applications now open for OHC 2016 Summer Institute

The Oral History Center is offering a one-week advanced institute on the methodology, theory, and practice of oral history. This will take place on the UC Berkeley campus in the newly-opened MLK Jr Student Center from August 14-19, 2016.

The institute is designed for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, university faculty, independent scholars, and museum and community-based historians who are engaged in oral history work. The goal of the institute is to strengthen the ability of its participants to conduct research-focused interviews and to consider special characteristics of interviews as historical evidence in a rigorous academic environment.

We will devote particular attention to how oral history interviews can broaden and deepen historical interpretation situated within contemporary discussions of history, subjectivity, memory, and memoir.

Registration is open now here!

Photo of 2014 Advanced Oral History Summer Institute Participants and Faculty

Jan 19, 2016 | Categories: OHC Articles | ddunham

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