Inside and up the Stanford tower
Good views from the top, history at the Hoover Institution
Often controversial and increasingly influential (more than 50
former or current scholars have served in the Reagan administration),
the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace may be the most
prominent conservative think tank in the West today.
With just under 4,000 collections, it’s a treasury of primary
sources on 20th century social, economic, and political changes. Its
rare and valuable historic papers include items like the files of the
Paris branch of the Russian secret police (prior to the Bolshevik
Revolution) and the diaries of Hitler’s Gestapo commander, Heinrich
Himmler. Among more recent acquisitions are the strike orders for the
bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These documents and most of the
other collections belonging to the institution are available for review
by anyone with genuine interest.
You can also make a 10-minute stop at the Herbert Hoover Exhibit
Pavilion (at the top of the steps to the left of the tower) for a
glimpse of photographs and papers from selected collections, or take an
elevator to the top of Hoover Tower for a fine view of the Stanford
University campus and the south bay.
The institution grew out of a project sponsored by Herbert C.
Hoover in 1919. Director General of Relief in Europe after World War I,
he offered Stanford (his alma mater) $50,000 to begin collecting source
documents dealing with World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution. The
result is one of the world’s largest such repositories. If you
have a particular interest and want to know about Hoover’s
collections, write to Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University,
Stanford, Calif. 94305.
If you are interested in modern history, curious about the
institution, or just looking for a place to get a good view, here are
three ways to see the Hoover Institution.
Hoover Tower. Ride the elevator up to the observation platform on
the 14th floor of the tower, open 10 to 11:50 and 1 to 3:50 Mondays
through Saturdays, 1 to 3:30 Sundays. (During vacation break, December
14 to January 17, the tower may be closed; call 415/497-2862 for
information.) A student guide takes you up and gives you a short history
of the tower and the institution, explaining its connection with the
university. Admission is 50 cents (25 cents for seniors, free for ages
11 and under).
Before you leave the tower, stop in the lobby for a look at the
Herbert Hoover and the Lou Henry Hoover rooms.
Herbert Hoover’s long career is sometimes overshadowed by his
being associated with the Great Depression. In the Herbert Hoover Room,
you’ll see other aspects of his life: mementos of his relief work
in war-torn Europe; his translation of a 16th-century treatise on
mining, De Re Metallica; and documents from his periods of service under
presidents Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Truman, and Eisenhower.
These exhibits are open, free, 9 to 5 Mondays through Saturdays, 1
to 5 Sundays.
Exhibit pavilion. Displays change about twice a year. Materials
from the American postwar occupation of Japan should be on view through
December. The pavilion is open 11 to 4 Mondays through Fridays.
Admission is free.
Archives. Documents are available for review from 8:15 to 4:45
weekdays. After filling out a registration form and presenting some
identification at the desk on the bottom floor of the Hoover Memorial
Building, you will be allowed into the reading room with only a pen or
pencil; free lockers are provided, and free paper and note cards are
available in the reading room.
A reference librarian will take about 10 minutes to explain how to
find collections that interest you and how to request them. At 9 and 11
A.M., 2 and 3 P.M., a librarian bring requested collections to the
reading room, the only place you may study them. You might find the
reading room a bit chilly for sitting; temperature and humidity are kept
low to preserve documents.
Photo: A landmark rising 285 feet above Stanford campus, Hoover
Tower houses Hoover Institution’s archives and library
Photo: Tower’s observation platform gives them western view
over the main quad of Stanford campus
Photo: From U.S. 101, take Palo Alto’s University Avenue,
which becomes Palm Drive on campus. Color tone shows metered and
short-term parking; note that some streets are blocked off to cars
Photo: You may bring only pen or pencil into archive reading room;
librarians supply paper for taking notes