In 2010-2011, the Success-Failure Project identified and located several alumni, now in their 60s and 70s, who had participated in taped interviews as Harvard College undergraduates. We invited these alumni to come listen with us to their own undergraduate voices and to reflect on what has changed and what has been consistent in the intervening decades -- especially with regard to the meaning of the terms "success" and "failure" in their lives and work.
Preserving Alumni Recordings
For half a century, from the mid-1940s through the mid-1980s, hundreds of students participated in audiotaped interviews at the Bureau of Study Counsel. These students shared their experiences and perspectives about, for example: their values and life choices; their everyday tasks and struggles; their relationships with their families and friends; and what it meant to be young men, women, students of color, international students, thesis writers, athletes, etc., during times of great cultural change. The archive includes over 300 tapes and over 500 hours of interviews.
The interviews were recorded using the technology of the time- magnetic reel-to-reel, and later, cassette audiotapes. The tapes are now aged and are deteriorating quickly. Thanks to a grant from a generous donor, we have begun taking steps to preserve/digitize as many of these recordings as possible, so that this extraordinary archive of historical and personal material will not be entirely lost.