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June 7, 2004

Memorial resolutions get second life online

More than 600 faculty memorial resolutions dating back to 1918 are now available on the Stanford Historical Society's website.

"I browsed the memorials of some people I had known and found it a moving experience," said Faculty Senate Chair Tom Wasow, who announced the project at the senate's May 13 meeting. The Historical Society's website is

In recent decades, the Academic Secretary's Office has ensured that a resolution is prepared for each faculty member who was an active or emeritus member of the Academic Council when he or she died. Usually a small committee of faculty colleagues composes the tribute within a year or two (although some have taken longer). This text is presented to the senate of the Academic Council and is approved in the form of a resolution. Senate members also honor their colleague by standing for a moment of silence after the statement is read.

The resolution process seems to have evolved out of an initial desire in 1918 to memorialize trustee Thomas Welton Stanford (1832­1918), the youngest and longest surviving brother of university founder Leland Stanford. Several other trustees were subsequently memorialized in the early 1920s.

Although the resolutions date back only to 1918, they span the entire history of Stanford's faculty, documenting careers of many pioneer faculty members who survived into the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, such as John Casper Branner, Charles and Guido Marx, Charles Gilbert, and Ellwood Cubberley. The bulk of the resolutions span the 1950s to the present.

Also included among early resolutions are memorials to key staff and administrators, such as first registrar and academic secretary Orrin Leslie Elliott.

The resolutions are idiosyncratic. Some are quite brief, giving the Academic Council the opportunity merely to record its appreciation of the services of individuals honored for devotion to the best interests of the university. Others provide the special insight of friends and colleagues into personalities, early experiences and accomplishments inside and outside of academe.

From their inception, memorial resolutions were made an official part of the Academic Council's record, and since 1968 they have been published in Campus Report and its successor newspaper, Stanford Report. Recent memorials and faculty obituaries are also available at the Stanford Report website,

Historical Society board member and Academic Secretary Emerita Susan Schofield prepared the original documents for the Historical Society's website. Jean Deken, Historical Society webmaster, created the new pages for the site. This "phase one" release of the resolutions will undoubtedly turn up errors. (Society researchers already have corrected several erroneous dates and name spellings.)

A second phase of the project will provide the opportunity to correct inaccuracies and add additional biographical resources, such as earlier faculty obituaries from the Stanford Alumnus, Stanford Illustrated Review and other major Stanford publications before 1960.

Corrections and suggested sources are welcome. Please contact Susan Schofield at or write to her care of the Stanford Historical Society, P.O. Box 20028, Stanford CA 94309.



John Sanford, News Service: (650) 736-2151,

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