Stanford… where opportunity knocks (you out)

Posted by at 4:12AM

When I work my tour guide shift at the top of Hoover Tower, I’m often reminded of the scene in The Lion King where Mufasa shows Simba the view from Pride Rock.

“Everything the light touches is our kingdom.”

The Lion King - clearly the best Disney movie of our generation

From my wind-chilled vantage point atop Stanford’s most prominent landmark, this is practically the case.  When I gaze from the faint tree line of SLAC to Campus Loop and back around to the Dish, I’m constantly reminded of how lucky we are to be here.  As Stanford students, we are blessed with the world’s third-largest contiguous university campus.  With 8180 acres (96 times the size of Disneyland Park!) to explore, we enjoy an almost overwhelming abundance of physical resources.

I’m writing this blog to encourage YOU, Stanford students, to take advantage.

We’ve got just four years on this slice of paradise, and to prevent you from suffering an acute case of FOMO (in addition to mono from FMOTQ, God forbid), I’m beginning a blog series on some of the most incredible resources at Stanford that you’re probably not taking advantage of.  Read up, choose your favorites, and bask in the benefits of a Stanford-enriched existence.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

This edition: awesome historical collections!!!

Stanford’s Special Collections and University Archives:

And you thought writing out AP essays was tedious....

Ready to be blown away?  Here goes: our archives have over 50,000 linear feet of manuscript and archive materials and over 250,000 rare and antiquarian books.  That’s almost ten miles of manuscripts!  And not just any manuscripts, folks.  We’re talking pages from a Gutenberg Bible, illuminated medieval manuscripts (handwritten and adorned with gold and lapis lazuli), and some of the first printed books from the New World.  Most of the documents aren’t strictly text.  In fact, the majority aren’t even in print format, as the Special Collections focus primarily on photographs, maps, video and audio recordings, computer files, and more.  The archives include the papers of John Steinbeck, Allen Ginsberg, the Black Panther Party, among others, as well as several thousand photos of the development of Stanford University itself.  Rotating exhibits keep the material on display in the archives zesty and fresh.  History geeks, start your engines.

Media Microtext:

*beep* *boop* *beep*... etc.

Were you aware that you have the world’s second largest (to Netflix) collection of movies at your fingertips?  That’s right, present your SUID in the basement of Green, and you have access to nearly every movie ever.

This isn’t to say Media Microtext is only for movie buffs.  Au contraire, mon frère: Media Microtext likewise boasts a mind-numbing expanse of historical documents on microfiche, including massive cabinets full of historical New York Times articles and the full run of the Stanford Daily.  As well as video games.  Lots of video games.  And for historic video games, Media Microtext even boasts numerous out-of-production consoles so you can play your favorites from back in the day.  Sweet.  Old school Pong, here I come!

The Hoover Institution Archives:

Q: What do Nazis eat for breakfast? A: Luftwaffles! (Too soon?)

1.6 million.  That’s how many documents Hoover has.  And not just any documents: Hoover has one of the largest collections on social, political, and economic change in the 20th century in the world.  This includes 30,000 newspaper and periodical titles and 4,000 special collections, as well as crazy-cool geopolitical material like:

  • more pro- and anti-Mussolini material than can be found in Italy
  • more documentation of the growth and spread of Communism than can be found anywhere except Russia (in Soviet Russia, Communism documents YOU!)
  • one of the world’s most complete records on Hitler and the Nazi movement, including thousands of Nazi propaganda posters, leaflets, and letters, including propaganda minister Goebbels’ personal diary
  • exhaustive data on the rise of the Chinese Communist government

(major info cred to the VIS handbook on some of these facts!)

Stay tuned for future blogs from me on living a Stanford-enriched existence.  In the meantime, go check these out!

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One Response to “Stanford… where opportunity knocks (you out)”

  1. Troy says:

    This is awesome! Please continue this series.

    I remember the first time I went to archives / Special Collection. I was shocked by the cool stuff therre.

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