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Inside and up the Stanford tower: good views from the top, history at the Hoover Institution.

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
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Date:Dec 1, 1984
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