Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.
Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.
The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.
All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:
[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
These interviews are made available for research purposes only. For more information about other kinds of usage and permissions, see BHS’s rights and reproductions policy.
Oral history interview conducted by Laurie Cumbo and Sady Sullivan
January 24, 2008
Call number: 2008.030.38
Oral History Interview with Adelaide Sanford
Dr. Regent Adelaide Sanford, born in 1925, was a career educator notable for her fiery defense of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn's African American students, and her unanimous election to the Board of Regents of the State University of New York. Sanford received her BeD degree from Brooklyn College in 1947, and her MeD degree from Wellesley College in 1950. After fifteen years as a school teacher in New York City's elementary schools, Sanford became assistant principal, and later principal, at Crispus Attucks School in Brooklyn. She earned her PhD degree from Fordham University in 1967. Sanford won unanimous election to the Board of Regents of the State University of New York in 1986. Throughout her tenure, Sanford's interest lay primarily in elevating the achievements and standards of low-performing schools.
In this four-hour interview, Dr. Regent Adelaide Sanford discusses her life's history, beginning with her recollection of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1930s and during the Great Depression, and recounts a number of personal stories involving segregation and Jim Crow laws. Sanford recalls the foundation of Restoration, including its early effects on the neighborhood's African American citizens. Throughout the interview, Sanford openly discusses her personal opinions about the state of race in America in 2008, her achievements as an activist, and the reasons she was particularly successful. She shares her thoughts on her tenure with the Board of Regents, Ebonics in schools, the 2008 U.S. presidential election, and corruption in politics. Sanford discusses her personal life; her courtship and marriage, her diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer, her affection for the African country of Ghana (where she was crowned a Queen Mother), and her Christian religious beliefs. Interview conducted by Laurie Cumbo and Sady Sullivan.
Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) partnered on the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history project in 2007-2008 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Restoration's founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Nearly sixty interviews were conducted with founding Board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members. Audio clips from these oral history interviews were included in the exhibit "Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation" (BHS 2008, Restoration 2009).
CitationSanford, Adelaide, Oral history interview conducted by Laurie Cumbo and Sady Sullivan, January 24, 2008, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories, 2008.030.38; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
- Sanford, Adelaide
- University of the State of New York
- African Americans
- African diaspora
- Black nationalism
- Civil rights movements
- Community organizing
- Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- New York (N.Y.)
- United States
Finding AidBedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories