Traditional histories of higher education institutions tend to be academic histories or photo essays. This article describes another approach, “institutional biography” narrated with extensive oral history interviews of faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and emeriti. Using University of La Verne’s institutional biography as illustration, the article suggests not only that a richer institutional history will result, but that significant but often overlooked trends will emerge, such as the daily lives of students. YouTube examples are provided to demonstrate that institutional biography is public history in significant ways. Finally, the article shows how institutional biography may uncover comparative information useful for studying the general history of higher education.

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