Gary Greaves Oral History Digitization Project
This site provides access to a special collection of interviews recorded by Gary Greaves in the late-1980s and early-1990s.
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The recordings all relate to post-war Seattle history and cover a diverse array of topics -- such as transportation, race relations, housing, city planning and labor -- narrated by an equally diverse group, including well-known politicians such as Cheryl Chow, Martha Choe and Paul Schell; community activists such as Aaron Dixon (founder of the local Black Panthers chapter) and Hazel Wolf (social and environmental activist); and also including everyday people whom Greaves quizzed about the changing face of the neighborhoods. The recordings share the behind-the-scenes and inside stories of issues that have shaped Seattle, reaching beyond the headlines to provide details of subjects such as Seattle’s ongoing challenges with low-income housing, the personal story of a homeless man living on Seattle's streets, relations among different Asian ethnic groups as told by politicians and business leaders, and the planners who have seen roads, bridges and transit plans approved -- and then rescinded.
The recordings were intended to inform a book Greaves was researching. His unexpected and untimely death in 2009 at the age of 57 stalled the project. Initially, the collection was split between the Museum of History and Industry and Frances McCue, Greaves' widow. The collection has been reunited at UW Libraries. Narrators included on this site have all been contacted about the changed use of their interviews.
Greaves' knowledge of Seattle engaged the narrators and his warmth drew them to speak openly. The recordings are marked by frankness and depth, which make the stories interesting and smart.
The generous support of 4Culture helped make these recordings available to the public through this site.