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00:00:07 - Introduction & sound check

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Segment Synopsis: Israel briefly discusses working at WHA with Kent Ohst and how he embodied the “voice of god” radio voice of the 1950s.

Keywords: WHA

00:01:52 - Reason for coming to UW

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Segment Synopsis: Question: Why come to University of Wisconsin? Answer: He chose UW to get away from a setting similar to his home after applying for the Ford Foundation experiment to put 16 year olds in a university setting. Israel is from Woodmere, RI, a largely Jewish community, who came to UW at 16 years old at the advice of his father, who told him about an experimental program sending young people to college. He had to take a college aptitude test. This was in 1951, when the Universal Military Training at Age 18 Act seemed like it was going to pass, making it required by every 18 year-old male to do two years of military training, without exception. The Ford Foundation panicked and started the push for 16 year olds (whether or not they had graduated high school) to attend college. Wisconsin, Chicago, Yale, and Columbia agree to this experiment with funding from the foundation. Israel was in Crater Lake, OR on a youth hostel trip the summer before attending UW. He had one long-distance call and with that call he found out he had been placed at UW-Madison. Israel chose UW because he felt that the “Jewish ghetto” he grew up in was confining. Yale and Columbia were too close to home. His father was a small businessman who made trips to Chicago and told his son that the city was just a wannabe New York City, so Israel was left with UW to choose. The image of Wisconsin seemed to be as far away from home as he could get.

00:05:35 - Reason of coming to UW, continued

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Segment Synopsis: Israel continues discussing his choice to go to UW. William Schuman was his uncle, the prominent composer and president of Julliard followed by the Lincoln Center. He told Israel he got an honorary doctorate from UW and that it looked like a good place to be, and on that recommendation Israel made his final choice to attend.

Keywords: family connections

00:06:07 - Travel before attending UW

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Partial Transcript: TR: So you had never been there before until you matriculated there?

Segment Synopsis: Question: Had you ever been to Madison before you matriculated at UW? Answer: No, Israel had never been to Wisconsin prior to attending UW. Briefly mentions he had travelled much of the country on bike by that point.

Keywords: youth hostels

00:06:26 - First impressions of Wisconsin

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Segment Synopsis: Question: What were your first impressions of Wisconsin when you arrived? Answer: Doesn’t remember an overall impression. Israel took the train to Chicago, then up to Milwaukee and to Madison. The Ford Foundation’s 16 year-old class had 52 students attending UW. The university sought out an appropriate advisor for the group, Herbert Howe. Howe was chosen because he taught at a prep school at some point, so he had experience with younger students. Howe recommended that the Ford class consider Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS) to find a smaller community in a school of 13,000, but initially helped the students find a place to live. The dorms were full, as UW was still suffering from the post-World War II housing shortage. He roomed the students with people who had dissimilar backgrounds from them. Israel continues discussing his initial experiences at UW. Howe placed with Stephen Kresge who was from Berkeley, CA. They are now life-long friends. Wisconsin didn’t have a geographic quota at the time, meaning schools like those in NYC at the time got in at a much higher rate because of higher test scores. Howe found it hard to find people not from the City to room together.

Keywords: Herbert Howe; ILS; Integrated Liberal Studies; Stephen Kresge; antisemitism; geographic quota

00:10:46 - Residence in Madison / First impressions, continued

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Segment Synopsis: Israel continues discussing his initial experiences at UW. Lived on N. Lake St with a landlady, Mrs. Harkins. Israel speculates that many of the landladies were World War II widows. Israel got impressions of different pieces of UW, not an impression as a whole.

00:12:00 - Thoughts on the Ford Scholar experiment

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Segment Synopsis: Question: Is there more you want to say about the Ford experiment? Yes, it’s an experiment that died young, for many reasons. Congress never passed the universal military training law. Israel discusses going home to hearing criticism of the program, where high schools opposed sending their best minds away early. High schools develop Advanced Placement partially to combat this project. Israel believes the experiment was both academically and socially successful. One of the issues of the project was that the 16 year-old boys couldn’t really date because of an age difference. Wisconsin issued a new laminated ID to prevent under-age drinking, and Israel discusses ordering a copy of his New York birth certificate, forging it, and being able to get an ID that says he’s 18, solving the date issue. Israel decides the Ford students also need a codename so they could hide their identity if needed – “Norwegians.” Age was one of the challenges they had to meet socially at UW. Howe had a hands-off attitude, except for Sunday dinners with the Ford group. The Ford program had four years of activity. The third year, women were let into the program, bringing up the Ford population to around 160. Israel says most participants were extremely happy with the program.

Keywords: Herbert Howe; Sunday dinners; academic success; high schools; social success; student life

00:19:12 - Experiences at the Daily Cardinal

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Segment Synopsis: Question: Can you talk about the Daily Cardinal? Answer: Israel speculates that he got involved with the Daily Cardinal through John Hunter, who was a principal reporter for the Capital Times. Hunter often showed up at the Cardinal to help student reporters out. Israel rose to Assistant University Editor by junior year, and was expected Editor for his senior year, but the Cardinal Board changed their mind. Israel dropped out of the Daily Cardinal to focus on academics after the rejection. It was a great way to get to know UW and meet interesting people. Israel discusses some of the people he worked with at the Cardinal and where they went after UW. Absence of alienation of students in the 1950s, in contrast to the 1960s. Israel discusses participating in the annual passing of the UW budget and being supportive of UW administration. Discusses the project funding the Daily Cardinal as an independent paper. Israel considers the Cardinal experience as “extraordinary.”

Keywords: School of Journalism; The Cap Times; UW Budget

00:26:13 - Human Relations Committee

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Segment Synopsis: Question: What was your work like with the Human Relations Committee? Answer: Israel believes the committee was a part of the UW Student Council. Israel identifies his views at the time as “mainstream liberal” and knew a lot of people from New York who were more radical – he was an “ACLU liberal.” Discusses dealing with the “1960 Clause” and consequent conflict, which demanded Greek life on campus to discard discriminatory clauses in your charters by 1960. Mentions that Louise Trubek was a successor of his in the committee, also a Ford student. When asked about these meeting’s location, he said they met mainly in Memorial Union.

Keywords: Greek life; civil liberties; discrimination; fraternities; student council

00:29:56 - Residence in Madison

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Segment Synopsis: Question: Did you live in your original housing on campus the entire time you were here? Answer: Israel moved around quite a bit while he was at UW. Israel discusses the housing changes, including Rochdale Men’s Coop, where he lived for his last two years on campus. Israel discusses cooperative housing at UW and classification by residence. Israel discusses “counterculture” of the day.

Keywords: Groves co-op; Langdon Street; North Mills Street; Rochdale Men’s Co-op; dorm life

00:34:20 - Student folk music

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Segment Synopsis: Question: Can you discuss student folk music? Answer: In the 1950s, folk music was not a genre that focused on political statements. Israel remembers Depression songs, Spanish Civil War songs, and labor songs; discusses the political disconnect between the music and the present situation. Israel discusses attending music events

00:37:57 - Integrated Liberal Studies

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Segment Synopsis: Question: Can you talk more about ILS at UW? Answer: Israel got involved with ILS through Herbert Howe. Israel discusses experiences with ILS, which was a positive experience. Had a two-year sequence of each subject (Humanities, Natural Sciences, etc.) to get a broad scope of subjects. Israel got introduced to ILS by taking courses on Greece and Rome; he discusses the initial experience. Retrospective look at the program after 60 years. Israel continues to discuss the ILS program. Neither ILS nor UW had a mathematics requirement; ILS had no math courses or hard science courses included.

Keywords: Greek and Roman Civilization; Herbert Howe; ILS

00:43:53 - Class locations

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Segment Synopsis: Where were your classes held? Answer: Israel doesn’t remember having classes anywhere but Bascom Hall for ILS. Israel discusses faculty, courses, and community in ILS.

Keywords: Bascom Hall; Herbert Howe; ILS; Japan

00:44:55 - Non-ILS courses

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Segment Synopsis: [No question] Israel talks about the most memorable non-ILS course he took at UW. He took a class in the French Department with Alfred Glueser; he discusses his experiences with him.

Keywords: French department

00:45:49 - Experiences with west campus

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Segment Synopsis: Question: So your campus experience didn’t go further west than Bascom (i.e. Agriculture Hall)? Answer: Israel remembers dating girls who lived on the lake side of Bascom Hill but otherwise not wandering past Bascom Hall.

Keywords: Bascom Hill

00:46:23 - Academic interests at UW

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Segment Synopsis: [No question] Israel discusses some of his other studies at UW. He was very attached to ILS but also majored in History and American Studies. He specialized in Religion in America within American Studies. Israel discusses his interest in religion at the time in the political context of the 1950s, especially involving the fear of Catholic power. He wrote a refutation of American Freedom and Catholic Power, by Paul Blanshard, for his senior thesis.

Keywords: American studies; ILS; history; religion in America; senior thesis

00:48:24 - Social places on campus

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Segment Synopsis: Question: Can you talk more about where you hung out on campus? Answer: Israel recalls the Rathskellar, but says he didn’t appreciate the social opportunities at UW until he went to Harvard for graduate school. Israel discusses the social atmosphere of graduate versus undergraduate school. He talks about eating a lot of Union food. When asked where he studied, Israel remembers studying at home.

Keywords: Rathskellar; graduate school; student life

00:52:15 - UW and McCarthyism

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Segment Synopsis: Question: Can you discuss McCarthyism and UW, as well as the interaction between New York and Wisconsin? Answer: Israel comments that there’s been some writing on the connection between New York and UW. He remembers one incident that illustrates the connection between UW and McCarthyism. The Labor Youth League, a communist group, invited Abner Berry, an African-American communist writer and activism, which led to an uproar from the off-campus McCarthy supporters off-campus. McCarthy supporters pushed for an investigation of communist activities at the UW. Israel talks about the defense from UW Administration. Israel discusses the arrival of Abner Berry on campus and the political climate with the Far Left at the time. They had to leave campus property at a certain time to continue their meeting and sat in front of Science Hall with about 100 people; Berry struggled with student questioning. The event led to the university investigative committee switching into a group to support UW. Israel discusses other implications of the Berry visit and the labor group on campus.

Keywords: Labor Youth League; McCarthyism; Young Communist League; the Daily Worker

01:00:07 - End of interview session