Sophie Lee, W&M Class of 1990
Sophie Lee arrived at William & Mary in 1986. During her time at William & Mary, she participated in Pi Beta Phi and Study Abroad.
After earning her Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 1990, Lee joined her family company, the Allied Technology Group, Inc., ultimately becoming Vice President for Human Resources. In 2004 she broke out and founded her own government contracting company, AMSAQ, Inc., for which she currently serves as President. She remains connected to William & Mary through her committee participation, most recently the William & Mary Alumni Association.
In her interview, Lee reveals that William & Mary was not her first choice of school, but, “I loved it. The minute I set foot on campus I loved it.” Her fondest memories include being a member of Pi Beta Phi and starting supper clubs in which she and her friends would have “a whole social round table of meals.” When reflecting on the utility of her liberal arts education, Lee remarks, “You can figure pretty much anything out. You basically have the tools to be able to adapt, to learn something new, to have a broad enough scope of education, but also interest to learn just about anything.” She remains involved with the college through service on boards and by returning for Homecomings and social events with her college friends.
William & Mary
Interviewee: Sophie Lee
Interviewer: Carmen Bolt
Date: February 7, 2018 Duration: 01:33:52
Carmen: My name is Carmen Bolt, the oral historian at William & Mary. It’s currently around 1:00 p.m. on February 7, 2018. I’m sitting in the Alumni House with Sophie Lee. Could we get started by you telling me the date and place of your birth and what years you attended William & Mary?
Sophie: I was born April 19, 1968 in Washington, D.C., and I went to William & Mary from 1986 to 1990.
Carmen: Okay, great. And can you tell me a bit about where and how you were raised? You mentioned you were born in D.C. Is that where you grew up?
Sophie: Yeah. My parents came from Seoul, South Korea in 1966. They worked for Catholic Charities placing adoptable children in Korea with U.S. parents, so they met in that office and then they came over, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington.
00:00:55 So I grew up mostly in Montgomery County. I was born in D.C. They lived in Arlington, but then they moved out to Montgomery County, so I lived there for all of my childhood.
Carmen: Okay, great. And would you tell me a little bit more about your family dynamic and makeup?
Sophie: My dad is the oldest of six and my mom is the oldest of four. So they came over. Over the course of time my dad and mom sponsored for his entire family to come over, so all of his siblings and his parents. My mom sponsored to have her brothers and her sister come over as well. So that all happened like in the early to mid ‘70s. I have a sister. She’s three years younger than me, Tricia, and she lives in London.
00:01:56 And she has a ten-year-old daughter Eva. So we’re kind of spread out all over the place. My dad’s brothers and his sister and my mother’s brothers all had children, and most of them live in the D.C. metro area, so we see each other a lot, so it works out really great. We have a really nice extended family.
Carmen: Yeah, that’s wonderful. And I think I read in my research that you definitely travel a lot now with your family.
Sophie: Yeah. My parents…you know, growing up we didn’t travel very much. There wasn’t money or anything like that for it. I can remember taking one week a year. We would go to Ocean City. And that was pretty much the vacation for the year. But as my dad’s business grew and he became successful, he started to want to travel. And my mother worked for International Monetary Fund, so she got home travel back to her home country, which is Korea.
00:03:02 And so we started traveling then. But since then it’s only, I guess, exploded and everybody travels a lot all the time.
Carmen: That’s really nice—
Carmen: —especially now that you’re all spread out. When you started traveling, did your family take a lot of trips back to Korea?
Sophie: It used to be solely to Korea. Used to be like every other year we would go and stay for like a month in the summer. But now it’s everywhere. It’s Korea. A lot of trips to London to go see my sister. Also just trips going to different places with us all together, so it could be Mexico, or Japan, or places in Europe. And we sort of spread it out.
Carmen: Any favorite place in particular?
Sophie: I really like England a lot. I have a lot of fun there. But we love Italy, so we love to go back to Italy. And we love going to Japan. I’ve actually gotten more of an appreciation about going back to Korea. I hadn’t gone in probably ten or 15 years. And it’s very different from when I was growing up, so it’s a much more pleasant experience going now, and we have a great time there, so it’s one of my favorites again.
Carmen: Great. And do you do any traveling throughout the United States, or is it mainly more abroad?
Sophie: No, we travel within the U.S., too. We’ve gone to…my best friends live in Colorado and in California, and they’re both from here. And then places like up in Rhode Island and South Carolina.
00:04:59 My parents now split their time between Florida and up in Maryland, so we’ll go to Florida a lot, so kind of all over the place.
Carmen: Yeah, it sounds like it. But it sounds ideal to me, so… [Laughs.]
Sophie: Yeah. [Laughs.]
Carmen: Well, I want to take it back kind of to the beginning before we get into your time at William & Mary and even further. But when did you start thinking about college, just generally?
Sophie: I guess—well, high school. I went to public school through ninth grade. And at the time, when it was time to go to high school, my parents wanted me to look at private school because the public high school in my area was not one that they felt was going to be a good fit for me. They just wanted something different. So they had asked me if I wanted to go to a Catholic school, because we’re Catholic, and I told them that I got enough Catholic at home, and I would prefer to go to a nondenominational school.
00:06:04 So I ended up applying for Holton-Arms, which is a girls school in Bethesda. I had a girlfriend from school who applied and went there, and she liked it, so I thought I would give that a go. I had no idea what I was in for. But the minute you got in, you were in Upper School, and any independent school, the focus is what are you doing to get yourself ready to go to college.
It was always assumed, even in my family, that we would go to college. It was never a question. So probably the active tenth grade you start meeting with your counselor and they start talking to you about what do you need to look for in your grades, where do you want to go, what kind of scores do you need, so the normal stuff, I think, these days, but that’s when it happened.
Carmen: Right, yeah, it’s intensive.
Carmen: How did William & Mary in particular get on your radar?
Sophie: It was not my first choice. I tell people that all the time. Which they find surprising, given how I am now. But my high school had a graduating class of 68 students, so I was thinking I wanted to go to someplace big.
So I remember we had a college counselor. Her name was Marge [Lennick]. And you had an appointment with her in, I think it was, your third trimester of your sophomore year or your first trimester of junior year. It was one of those, depending on the scheduling. And you would go into her office and she had a yellow legal pad, and you sat there, and she would ask you what schools do you want to apply to, where do you want to go, and then she would tell you what schools she thought you could get into.
00:08:04 And sometimes they matched up and sometimes they didn’t. But then she would proceed to tell you what kind of scores you would need to get on your SATs, what kinds of grades you would need, who you needed to get recommendations from. I mean, she was a well oiled machine.
So I remember I think I had put down things like Chapel Hill, I put down Georgetown, I put down Berkeley, I put down…I don’t know where else I put down. But William & Mary was not on that list. And she was very systematic. She told me the chances of me getting into Berkeley were not even worth considering, not because I was dumb or anything, but just because demographically it wasn’t going to work out for me. She told me ways to get around it.
00:08:58 She was very honest about that kind of stuff. She’s like apply for one of the other schools. If you don’t like it you can always transfer in. I was like, okay. But then she mentioned William & Mary. She thought I should apply. She said that she thought it would be a good fit for me size-wise. She said it was big enough that I wouldn’t feel like I was in a tiny, tiny school, but small enough that I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed.
She made the comment that it was far enough away from my parents that I wouldn’t see them every weekend, nor would I feel like I wanted to go home every weekend. And she was pretty spot on about everything. And so I remember filling out the application. I think I filled it out in two different pens because the ink ran out.
00:09:56 I wrote the essays. I sent it off. And I ended up getting in, and I decided to come here. I did actually get in to Santa Cruz, and I wanted to go there first, but my parents refused to pay for tuition to send me to California because they were like we’ll never see you again. And I was like, well, then my second choice was William & Mary. So I ended up coming here. But I loved it. The minute I set foot on campus I loved it.
Carmen: And did you set foot on campus before you started school here, or was that your very first…?
Sophie: No. That was the—I mean, other than the requisite trip when you’re little with pictures in the stockades, I’d never been here. So that was the first time, was freshman orientation week.
Carmen: Oh, my goodness. And so what do you remember about that week? Like first stepping onto campus, what it looked like, what it smelled like.
Sophie: I lived on Yates third center. It was hot, as everybody, I’m sure, remembers. It was overwhelming. There was so much going on. I mean, just… And it’s not like it is now. I see with the whole organization of like the orientation aides and the RAs and everybody, you know, with the whole crews coming out to help you move in. I don’t remember it being like that. It was families just sort of having to fend for themselves and get your stuff up into the dorm. So it was a little strange. The whole idea of living with somebody that you just had no idea who this person was. I ended up lucking out. I had a great freshman roommate. She was my freshman and sophomore year roommate.
00:11:58 But yeah, it was overwhelming. It was fun, though. I mean, it was just…everybody was in the same boat. Everybody was trying to meet new people, and meet as many people as you could, so it was fun.
Carmen: Everyone was figuring it out together.
Sophie: Yeah, absolutely.
Carmen: So did you know what you wanted to study when you got here? Is that something you developed once you were here?
Sophie: No, I had no idea. I thought I would go into law. I had this idea that I wanted to be a lawyer until I actually worked at a law firm, and then I was like, yeah, I don’t think this is for me. And I had no clue. I really didn’t. I sort of fell into psychology just because it was the subject I liked studying the most, so that’s how that came to be.
00:12:58 It wasn’t…I wasn’t one of those people who came in with some definitive idea that I was going to study certain things.
Carmen: Right. So when did you…when you were taking those classes to start, and before you worked at the law firm and decided that wasn’t for you, how did you really get into psychology or find the interest you wanted? Was there a particular class or professor you had that was impactful?
Sophie: You know, it was one of those things where I think the whole premise of liberal arts education helped me find focus, because I didn’t know. So the fact that you had to take these requisite classes in different areas made me take classes in some cases that I just didn’t think I would be particularly interested in. And sometimes I was right.
00:13:57 I mean, I think if you ask my parents, if they can recall, we all generally agreed that economics was not the thing for me to do. Actually, Professor Jensen also said economics was not the thing for me to do. But I remember—my advisor was Dr. [Neflick], and I remember I enjoyed his classes. And then there was also actually an education professor I took a class from. And he was Dr. [Lavitch]. He passed away. He was fantastic. And that really sort of pushed me into the psychology arena, so that’s how that ended up coming to be.
Carmen: Great. And were there any other individuals on campus that you looked to as like a mentor or someone who was really impactful during your time here?
Sophie: In terms of mentoring, I don’t…not really. It was more the friends I had. They were, and they are the people that I rely on still. So I have my two best friends from here. But we also have a big cohort of friends that we all keep in touch with each other, so that was the support group or the support mechanism for me at school.
Carmen: It sounds like you found great community here.
Carmen: Do you have any good stories about how you met those best friends that you still stay in contact with?
Sophie: So my two best friends are Chrissie Morton DeMier and Audra Lally, now Mallow. And we lived on the same freshman hall. And Chrissie’s room was right next to mine. And she will tell you that when it was meal time or something, and basically at that time when you were a freshman, you go down as like with your entire hall to go eat.
00:16:03 And I would bang on the wall and just be like, let’s go. Audra lived a few doors down. I mean, we all hung out, but Audra and I, we started hanging out more when Chrissie went to go live with her when she got bumped from the residence lottery and they had to all go move off campus. So we all started hanging out then. But they’ve been my best friends since the beginning. And we still talk all the time.
Carmen: Great. That’s a testament to the relationships formed here on campus, so that’s awesome.
Carmen: Well, there are a couple other questions I had to ask before this, but I think it’s a good time to ask what kind of things you did for fun, or what some of your favorite memories were here.
Sophie: I guess freshman year, I think I spent a lot of time in the dorm freshman year. I didn’t…I remember everybody going through rush, but I didn’t know what a sorority was. I had no clue. It just wasn’t something that I grew up knowing anything about. My mother went to university in Korea, and they certainly didn’t have that.
The high school I went to tended to be pretty, I guess, progressive. They didn’t like their cheerleaders. They had cheerleaders, but they found…they didn’t…their feminist opinions did not support why did these cheerleaders have to cheer for the boys football team when it was a boys school, and, you know, it didn’t make any sense, so they disbanded them.
00:18:02 So it just wasn’t something that I grew up with. So the whole notion of rush and watching all these women blow drying their hair in 90% humidity, and putting on dresses and pantyhose and going to these things was just bizarre, so I didn’t do any of that. I actually didn’t rush a sorority until junior year. My friends were like you should really do this. And I was like all right, I don’t have anything else to do, so I’ll do this. Ended up being great.
But a lot of time in the dorm. What else did I do? I don’t know what else I did. I mean, junior and senior year it was a totally different thing. I had a lot of friends, a lot of sorority friends. I mean, there was all of that. I lived in Pi Phi my senior year.
00:19:02 Chrissie and Audra lived in Chi-O across the street. Well, actually, Chrissie didn’t live in Chi-O, Audra lived in Chi-O. So there was a lot of that kind of stereotypical hanging out type things. I hung out a lot at KA. I had a lot of really good friends at KA. For some reason they made me a little sister my senior year, which is very nice, but I was like, huh? I don’t know what that is.
So, you know, all the typical stuff. Hanging out at Paul’s, hanging out at Green Leafe, hanging out at Mama’s, which is no longer there, sadly. Cheese Shop. Yeah, senior year we decided, I remember we went on—I told my dad I only needed five meals on the meal plan. He’s like how are you going to eat? I was like I live in Pi Phi, I’ll be fun. There’s supper club.
00:20:00 So we did stuff like that. And plus at the time we’d go…there was a Japanese like hibachi restaurant called Sakura. So they served five dollar lunch. So we’d do that, we’d do Cheese Shop. We had a whole social round table of meals, so that was also a big part of my social life.
Carmen: That sounds great.
Sophie: It’s all pretty normal stuff.
Carmen: Yeah. My current social life revolves around food, so I—
Sophie: You can relate. You can relate, yeah.
Carmen: —totally relate to that. So I don’t want to turn too sharply, but it kind of is.
Sophie: You can.
Carmen: I want to know about any difficult experiences that looking back stand out to you as impactful or influential during your time.
Sophie: I don’t know that I had anything that was particularly…or awful that happened. I mean, it was just things that were different. At the time when I was an undergraduate it was not as diverse as it is now. I mean, I know that there are probably people who say it’s not very diverse now, by their estimation, but back when I came in as a freshman, it was not very diverse at all. And there weren’t the programs or the acknowledgement of outreach I think that there is now. So that was a challenge.
And that wasn’t so much a challenge from the student body as a whole. It actually was more of a problem with regards to interacting with other Asian students on campus.
00:22:00 I think there was very—I perceived very much a desire for them…they wanted to remain cohesive as a group. They wanted to form connections, where basically sometimes I felt that pressure that I should be hanging out with them to the exclusion of hanging out with the people that I chose to hang out with.
So sometimes that was a challenge because I would get pushback from some of the other Korean students I knew who would be like why are you spending so much time with your dorm group when you should hang out with the Korean American students? Or when I joined a sorority, why are you joining that kind of group? You know, basically what they would call like a white group instead of hanging out at the Korean American Club. And I’m like I pick who I hang out with, and it’s not based on ethnicity.
Carmen: Yeah, that was going to actually be one of my questions, if you saw a great presence of Asian Americans on campus at the time, and about those organizations, if you had at one point tried to become involved, but made a decision at another point that that wasn’t…
Sophie: They always, they would come find you during orientation. They would find all the other…like I’m just speaking from the Korean aspect. They would come find you and ask you to come to like a club meeting or something. And I think just because also at home I hung out with a lot of Korean people all the time I just didn’t feel the need to make that be my only interaction.
00:24:03 Because it became…I got the impression pretty soon after just even meeting some of these people just one-on-one that they wanted to sort of cordon themselves, you know, hang out exclusively with those groups of people. And I was like I’m too busy meeting all different kinds of people. I didn’t want to deal with it. So that was always a bit of a challenge.
And I didn’t feel like they were really integrated into the mainstream of the college community. And that could be twofold. That could be because of their own actions, but I think also the school wasn’t at a point where it recognized the need to sort of integrate all of that together.
Carmen: Sure, that makes sense. Yeah, I was wondering what the kind of, if there were racial or ethnic tensions on campus that were obvious at the time or if it was something more subtle, but still obvious.
Sophie: Well, yeah, I think you were always very well—I mean, I was always conscious of, for example, all the women that cleaned and all the people that worked in the cafeteria, they were all African American. And then the student body is majority white, especially, you know, it was a different time, but there was a…there were ethnic groups within the college community, but they were much smaller. And you could see, you know, a lot of times also when I think also the black fraternities and sororities, they were a presence, and they were also very separate, so it wasn’t just Koreans or anything like that.
Carmen: Right, so maybe a product of the times there.
Sophie: Yeah, I think so. I don’t…yeah.
Carmen: So, well, it’s interesting. I’m going to skip ahead, actually, because the way I’ve laid this out is interesting. I’m wondering, and I like asking this question because it illuminates a lot of the context of the time you were going to school here, but how did you see things that were going on in the nation and even worldwide, like sociopolitical issues that had to do with maybe the end of the Cold War, or the AIDS crisis, or transition of second wave to third wave feminism? Did you see these? And in what ways did you see them unfold on campus?
Sophie: I don’t know. You know, a lot of the stuff that I… One of the things that always stuck out to me is I think, you know, especially post graduation, for my year, was a lot of the time when you saw the AIDS crisis and all of that happening.
00:27:00 And I think, you know, I had a lot of friends who came out after college. And sometimes we laugh and talk—I won’t name names—but I remember saying to a couple of them, I said, you know, I’ve noticed a trend. Like you go to college, you do your thing, but you’re not out, and then you come out after college, and then you disappear, and we don’t see you for ten years or something like that. And then all of a sudden it’s like you’ve shown up again, or we’ve reconnected.
And I was like is it because you felt like you couldn’t, you know, there was something holding you back in terms of being who you are with all of us? Is there something that has to be reconciled?
00:27:56 And that seemed to be, you know, sometimes the answer, most of the time the answer was yeah, there was just stuff that needed to be reconciled about, I guess, living not out in the open and then living out in the open, and how does that all work with people that you knew and who knew you one way, and now you’re being more open about who you really are. So that seemed to be something that was very prevalent in the first maybe ten years after college.
Carmen: Right. Do you think, from your perspective, that had something to do with the environment of William & Mary, it would have been a…?
Sophie: I think it had more to—well, I think it had to do with the climate overall, you know, out in the nation as a whole. I do think…I do know that there have been… I’ve heard people talk about the reputation of William & Mary, that maybe there are a lot of different ideas that go on, you know, a lot of gay and lesbians.
00:29:06 And it’s like so what? It’s not a big deal. But I think at the time it wasn’t something that people were comfortable with. And I don’t know if that’s a product of being in the South. I don’t know if it’s a product of being in Virginia. I don’t know if it’s a product of just the nation as a whole. It’s probably a little bit of everything all sort of melded into one.
I do…things that I see even now that I’m like, well, yeah, here’s changing times, you know. I remember seeing Confederate flags hanging in people’s windows when I came to school. KA was founded, one of its founded members is Robert E. Lee.
00:29:59 That was a bit of a shock for me coming from D.C., and being a minority person, and seeing that. That was a little off. But then after a while, I don’t…maybe I’m racially…I couldn’t be racially insensitive. I don’t know. It bothers me now. It bothers me more now than it did, in some ways, when I was younger. And that could be a product of age. That could be just a product of ignorance. I’m not really sure. But I do remember those things, those types of things.
Carmen: Yeah, I would imagine they would stick out whether or not there was some event that happened, just kind of seeing those things that you were unaccustomed to from where you were coming from.
Sophie: Yeah. I think so. I think for one thing, I think in a lot of ways I was probably sheltered from a lot of that stuff.
00:30:58 I mean, I do remember things happening. And I can remember things being said to me when I was little. But then over the years, you can forget about stuff, or the difference of situation. I went from being one of only two Asians in my elementary school to going to a high school that was racially diverse because half of the people, their parents worked for World Bank and IMF, and no one came from here. They were all from somewhere else. So my circle of friends in high school, I had Pakistani friends, and Indian friends, and Chinese, and African, and it was all mixed up, so it was just a very different thing.
Carmen: Yeah, it sounds like it. Were you surprised by the lack of diversity when you did finally get to William & Mary?
Sophie: I don’t know that I consciously thought about it as an issue until things happened. I think it just wasn’t something that I was conscious of until I’m hit with the lack of it.
Carmen: Sure. That makes complete sense.
Carmen: Absolutely. And I know also the human brain erases, sometimes, those—
Sophie: Oh, absolutely.
Carmen: —negative things with the positive things that you cling to.
Carmen: Okay, great. Thanks for reflecting on that. I want to get back to the stuff you were involved in. So Pi Beta Phi. And I saw also that you did study abroad. Where did you study? Or were you…?
Sophie: Oh, I think I did—well, I guess I did. I totally forgot. I forget about a lot of things. I studied in Seoul. So I went to a summer program in Seoul and did that. And that was a lot of fun. I had a great time with that. But it wasn’t…it’s not the same type of study abroad that happens now, which I am so jealous of.
Carmen: How did you decide to do that summer program in Seoul?
Sophie: I think it was just a question of looking for something to do in the summer. My mother’s best friend lived right near the school where a lot of people went. It was a very popular thing to do, not so much from my college experience, but from the other Koreans I hung out with at home. They all went to summer school in Seoul. So it was like okay, well I guess I’m going, too. My sister was different. She was part of that beginning push of different types of study abroad, I think, and she went and lived for a year in Florence, so it was a very different thing.
Carmen: Yeah, I’m sure. But still very exciting to just, I don’t know, go study over there for a period of time.
Sophie: It was, it was. And then to, yeah, to be someplace different and on your own was fun.
Carmen: Great. So a question I always like to ask, depending on who was president at the time, I would like to ask what memories, if any, you have of a president’s presidency. So Paul Verkuil was president during your time here. Do you have any reflections of his presidency?
Sophie: Not so much of his presidency. I mean, he was there. We just… I do remember—I feel sorry for him. I had this lunch group. And so it was…I don’t know if I should name. It was me, Jeff Hartman, Chelsea Gilfoyle, Theresa Baker, Wendy Blades. Did I say Bradley Gable? I call him Skip, but his full name is Bradley.
00:35:02 So we had this lunch group that would always meet. And somebody had the bright idea that we should sign up for lunch with the president. Like there was something where you could sign up and have lunch with the president. And I’m sure this man was not expecting this group. We ended up going to have lunch at the Brafferton, I remember, and basically we operated like we were still having our normal lunch thing and he just happened to be there. So I felt kind of bad for him. I was like yeah, that’s my recollection of President Verkuil. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Carmen: He didn’t join right in and act like a—
Sophie: No. I think he must have…he probably was somewhat bewildered by what was going on. So usually we, each one of us would take a turn. We decided to intellectually stimulate our psyche by each one of us would weekly take a topic and discuss it, or make a presentation at lunch.
00:36:11 And sometimes it just devolved into something not healthy. So yeah, so he had to participate in one of those, or sit in and observe one of these, since we had it at the Brafferton.
Carmen: Well, I’m sure he probably remembers that.
Sophie: I’m sure he was probably like never do this again. Just cross these people off the list.
Carmen: So you didn’t decide to make that a regular thing then?
Sophie: No. No.
Carmen: Okay, great. Well, that’s very funny, and not something I’ve heard.
Sophie: That you’ve heard before? I’m sure. Yeah, I’m sorry, again. Okay.
Carmen: All right, so we were talking a bit about the climate on campus, and there were just so many things that were going on in that late ‘80s, early ‘90s time, so I like to ask.
00:36:58 So what was it like, if you recall, to be a woman on campus in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, or 1990? And do you remember there being anything particular about that? Because, you know, really only a couple decades before that we saw the end of dress code regulations and curfew regulations.
Sophie: Yeah, I guess I just was never really… I apparently went off in a land of oblivion. And maybe because I went to a girls high school. So I was very used to just doing what we do, and there wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t something that I felt like I was always being held back about in some ways. I do look back on stuff we did in college and I’m like, well half of it you can’t do now.
00:37:56 Like, you know, pledge day across Richmond Road. We used to do, you know, the girls would have to cross the street through a wall of guys, usually intoxicated, which would be considered hazing now, or bordering on possibly assault. But, you know, I remember having a great time. I suppose that’s a bad thing to say.
And then, you know, stuff like…what else did they do? What else did we do? Oh, porch routines. At my 25th reunion we were still doing, we could still remember how to do porch routine. Has anybody talked to you about what…?
Sophie: So all the sororities would practice…they would have these routines they would do on the front porch of their houses, and they were supposed to be things like songs that would make you, you know, you’d see the girls doing it, and everybody’s coordinated or whatever, and it makes you want to join this particular group of girls. But you can’t do that anymore.
00:39:08 I remember…I do remember during rush the rules of the different houses, that Thetas could not have boys above the first floor. Pi Phis did not have any of those kind of rules. For whatever reason. Chi-O also did not. You know, just, I guess those were holdovers from some of that stuff, which, at the time, it just, I didn’t think about where they had come from before. It was just really? Why can’t you have this? Or, you know, just different things like that.
Carmen: Right. Yeah, getting to wear like shorts or something, which is commonplace, as opposed to…
Sophie: Yeah. I remember my parents were slightly nervous about me living in a coed dorm, but I didn’t think it was a big deal, so… Of course I was in oblivion, apparently, so…
Carmen: No, it’s fine. This was just your experience on campus. It’s helpful to know. And so one last thing, really, about—and this is national and probably international climate of colleges then and now, and probably just universally forever, but sexual harassment and assault are clearly issues that are still relevant on campus.
And as I did some research, I noticed during the period of time you were here, both on and off campus, there were a lot of cases in which there were accounts of rape or something like that happened. And I know there was a police escort service that was established to walk people back to their dorms, so—
Sophie: Yeah, I remember that. I remember…I mean, differences now. I think my freshman…our freshman year was the year that…I think it was two women were on Colonial Parkway and they were abducted and I think not found.
00:41:13 And then also I think there was a sexual assault behind Yates. But what I remember, when I look back on it now, is that I remember my parents calling me and asking me if I was okay. And I’m like, I’m fine, why? And they’re like, well, we got a notification that there was an assault. And I think they knew about it before I knew about it because there just wasn’t that availability of communication. We had hall phones.
Sophie: I had run up a $300 long distance bill my first month calling my best friend up in Bowdoin, and my dad told me I was forbidden to use the phone unless I was dying, so…yeah.
Sophie: So it was just, it was different.
Sophie: It was different.
Carmen: Yeah, and definitely the way information traveled across campus.
Sophie: Was totally different.
Carmen: Yeah. I can’t imagine that now, it’s changed so much. Well, do you remember if sexual harassment was something that was discussed in like orientation or in halls or anything like that?
Sophie: I don’t remember it being talked about in orientation. I don’t even remember, you know, it just…we might read about something, but I don’t remember ever getting like a focused talk about it.
Carmen: Right, okay.
Carmen: All right. So is there anything else, or any other memories you have that you want to bring up on camera about your time at William & Mary—
Carmen: —before we transition to your time after?
Sophie: I have lots, but probably I shouldn’t, so I will keep my mouth shut.
Carmen: Yeah, none you want to put on here for all of…? [Laughs.]
Carmen: No? Okay.
Sophie: Those would have to be redacted.
Carmen: They could be helpful to someone researching one day.
Sophie: I’m sure they would be, but no.
Carmen: Okay, well, if that’s the case then we can transition—
Carmen: —to your time post William & Mary education.
Carmen: So when you left William & Mary, kind of walk me through what was next. I know you eventually went to work for the Allied Technology Group, which was your family’s company.
Carmen: And then…well, more after that that we’ll get to. But what was kind of that initial trajectory when you graduated?
Sophie: Mostly I didn’t know what to do. I think I had still thought of, I’d still toyed around with—I was toying around with the idea of law school up until senior year and then I was like no, that’s not happening.
00:43:55 My dad had just started his company and he said he needed help. And I needed a job. So I went to start to work for him, doing just all his admin support things, bookkeeping, payroll, which we all agreed later on was not, this is not my forte. HR, setting up offices, that type of thing. And yeah, so from there. It was more, it was out of necessity for him, and I think cluelessness on my part about what to do.
Sophie: And sort of just worked out.
Carmen: Yeah, so did you find that you liked that type of work or…?
Sophie: There was stuff that I was good at. We generally all agreed accounting was not my strong suit, especially when I threw away the payroll. This was before direct deposit. Yeah, that was not fun.
00:44:56 I ended up being good at doing HR type things. And maybe the psychology background was helpful with that. So I would take care of the HR functions for the company. I would take care of setting up offices as my dad’s company was growing, so I managed that type of thing. And those seemed to be the areas that I was strong at.
Carmen: Right. And so you stayed with your family’s company until—and correct me if I’m wrong—until you broke off in the early 2000s to start your own company.
Sophie: Then I started my own company. So yeah. So that brought a whole ‘nother level of stress into life. But that was okay. It makes one have an appreciation—it made me have an appreciation for the amount of stress my dad must just deal with on a day-to-day basis. I think because being the boss and having to, you know, I guess take on the importance that your success is what people’s livelihoods depend on is very daunting, and it can keep you up at night.
00:46:11 So yeah. So we went from there. And it’s been good. It has its ups and downs. I value the flexibility it gives me to do the other things I want to do. On the other side I know I have to do things I don’t like doing, so it’s a balancing act about that.
Carmen: Yeah, definitely. I guess like with anything else, except you are, in fact, in charge, so it does—
Sophie: Yes, yes.
Carmen: So if you don’t mind taking me through that kind of process of starting your own business, and what your vision was initially for that, why you chose to take that step in particular.
Sophie: You know, a lot of it was about timing. I think my dad was…the company had…his company had gone from being six people to at its heyday about 500 people.
00:47:03 And he was looking at transitioning into a retirement mode. So then it sort of brought the question of okay, so what does that mean for me? What do I want to do? And the opportunity presented itself that if I started my own company to team up with another well established company as my mentor.
So I took that opportunity and did that. And we had a great working relationship for about ten years doing that. And they helped me grow. And during that time I learned a lot of things I didn’t…sometimes I didn’t want to know about what I’m good at and what I’m not good at, and about different agencies before.
00:48:01 My dad’s focus has been mostly in defense contracting, and the mentor company I had was mostly in the social agencies. So it was getting a totally different perspective on doing work with the federal government. Now I’m still in a—I’m in another period, I think, of change. I’m sort of evaluating, okay, do I want to keep doing this? What do I want to do next? I don’t have an answer for that yet. But that’s how that came to be.
Carmen: Okay, great. And another question I like to ask is making that connection, in what ways do you see your William & Mary education having prepared you for or shaped that trajectory that you took?
Sophie: I think one of the things that’s been the most beneficial is that—and I know people talk about it all the time—but the value of a liberal arts education. You can figure pretty much anything out. You basically have the tools to be able to adapt, to learn something new, to have a broad enough scope of education, but also interest to learn just about anything.
So when I look at other people I’ve met from here through various boards, I don’t think anybody goes into thinking I’m going to head this conglomerate, or work for this nonprofit, or I’m going to be dealing with construction equipment, or architecture. But they come from backgrounds where they can learn pretty much anything that they need to learn and incorporate everything that they learned into where their passion goes.
Carmen: Okay, that’s a great answer. And yeah, I do hear liberal arts education lauded frequently when I ask that question.
Sophie: Yeah, absolutely.
Carmen: That’s great that it did prepare you in that way. And you—
Sophie: It makes you adaptable.
Carmen: I think especially over the past several decades, when people have had to be incredibly adaptable, given the rise and fall of the economy.
Sophie: Agree. Agree.
Carmen: So that’s great. And you have decided to as well remain very, very involved with William & Mary—
Carmen: —and in all the ways I had you write down earlier, and we’re going to cover them all again. So don’t let me forget anything off this list. You first got involved with the library board for Swem.
Sophie: Yes. Yes.
Carmen: And you held at one point the position of chair.
Carmen: Or maybe more than once. We can talk about that. You currently serve on the Alumni Association board of directors.
Carmen: You established the Lee Bracken endowment, and that supported Information Commons at Swem. And you served on multiple reunion and gift committees. Have I left anything out? I mean, there are many.
Sophie: A lot of things.
Carmen: But I guess the point gets across that you have chosen to stay very involved. So what has it been? Why did you choose to reconnect with William & Mary in these ways, and what has motivated you to stay so involved?
Sophie: I think after graduation my normal, the way I was connecting was very typical. It was at homecomings and various things around D.C. I dropped off of that for a while. And then around 1999, 2000, was down here for homecoming and my friend’s stepmother was on the Swem Library board. And that board was in transition.
00:51:57 So it had, I think, been pretty quiet for a long time, but then Swem entered into, at the time, it was like a $15 million construction campaign or goal for revitalizing and renovating Swem. So she was on that board and said that the board was looking for new members, and basically said you would be good at this, and you live nearby, so I know you can come to the meetings, and you should do this. I was like, okay.
Because I think at the time I was ready to look for something to get involved in, so the timing was right. So I came onto the board. The dean of libraries at the time was Connie McCarthy, who I’m still friends with, and she really, she’s an inspiring person.
00:52:55 I mean, just so enthusiastic, and so…she was the right person for what Swem needed at that time. She knew what a research library could be, coming from Duke, and she wanted William & Mary’s library to be the same way. So her vision and her push really drove the board to elevate its expectations of itself, and started incorporating, bringing in people from different backgrounds than even you would typically think would come onto a library board.
The running joke amongst people I know was they were asking me did I even know where the library was, which, the answer was yes, because sophomore year I lived out at Ludwell, and so I spent a lot of time in the library. It was not just study. Well, mostly not studying, but doing other things. Including getting kicked out of there, ejected by the librarians for fighting.
Carmen: That’s a story we should unpack a little more. [Laughs.]
Sophie: We can. I had an argument with a Korean guy who had asked me what my major was, and I said I was going to be a psych major. And he said, well, how do you expect to get a husband in the psych department? And I was sort of taken aback, and I was like, I’m sorry, is that the reason I’m here at school? And he said, well. And I was like, I’m sorry, I thought my parents sent me to school to get an education. And so he and I got into a verbal argument about this and I got booted from the library that day. But yeah.
Carmen: Worthy cause, though.
Sophie: Thank you.
Carmen: Worthy cause to get kicked out.
Sophie: Yeah, so I did have an argument in the library. So yeah, but Connie was great.
00:55:01 And all the construction stuff that happened, I mean, it’s just amazing to see the transformation of Swem to what it is now, and to see all the students in there all the time, and just people all the time using it. Hard at work studying, but also relaxing. And I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s great. So from there, after that, I was invited to join the foundation board. Do you want me to just jump into all this stuff?
Carmen: Yes, absolutely.
Sophie: And then I made…yeah, so then I came onto the foundation board. And that was also undergoing some transformation of its own. I mean, it’s a fantastic group of people. And to see how…to be part of a group that’s also elevated its expectations of itself and what it means to be on the board representing the college, it’s an honor, and I loved the time that I had on that board.
00:56:09 So then after that, then my name was put in to join the Alumni Association board. Very different boards, all three. I mean, obvious different areas of focus, different perspectives, but full of really committed people to the goals of each of those different groups. And it’s been nice to see how also those boards have changed to represent the community as a whole, which I think is something that has become more visible. I mean, it may have always been there, but it’s also becoming more visible, whether on purpose or by osmosis or however it is.
00:57:00 Like I remember with Swem, they were one of the first organizations or entities on campus to really recognize GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. They had hosted a reception for them, or GALA had a reception at Swem. And from there they developed a relationship, and there’s all different kinds of things that happened on that.
And I remember at the time that was pretty…a little bit, I guess, more cutting edge than would have been thought at the time. And then since then the Alumni Association has incorporated GALA into the alumni body for homecoming, and then there’s also the other groups that are on board like the Hispanic students. And it was needed, but it’s been nice to see.
Carmen: Yeah, definitely. And do you think the makeup of the boards you’ve been on, or even since you’ve been on this board, reflects that as well, like the individuals who serve?
Sophie: I think it does, or they aspire to. It meets with various levels of success. I mean, this is always something I think all of these boards face as a challenge, is the question of diversity. They always bring it up and they’re always conscious of it.
I think one of—my opinion about that is that sometimes—and I’ve said it before in different forums. To remind people there are different ways to think about diversity. It’s not just about how many Asian people, or African American people, or Hispanic people, or even men or women are on a board. I mean, you have to be conscious of it.
00:59:02 But also the understanding it’s going to ebb and flow. And how much it ebbs and flows is going to depend on what kind of connections you make to feed that pipeline as it goes. But at times it’s going to be a challenge because the people that might be interested in serving, there’s a lag. You can look at your student body now and say there’s a 40% diverse, you know, 40% minority population, but we’re not reflecting that in our boards.
And it’s like, well, the people that are joining the boards now come from an environment where maybe it was 20% diversity, so you’re pulling from a smaller group of people. So it can be a challenge. But I think if we show that we’re making the effort to do that or to incorporate that, or build those pipelines in other organizations that can feed up into those groups later on, we’re doing a good job.
Carmen: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So along the lines of your involvement on these boards, I’m wondering if, on any of the boards, or all of the boards, if there’s a specific initiative or moment that you look upon as like just a really proud achievement or accomplishment of the board during your time sitting.
Sophie: I think with Swem I think it was really just being able to be a part of the rededication of Swem was a huge honor and achievement, that we hit the goals that we set for ourselves as a board and made those things happen was fantastic.
01:00:59 And the fact that they also recognized it’s not about what happens after the building’s done, it’s about what you do within the building as time goes on. And I think things like oral histories, and the special collections, and having the research databases available, and all these different things that people wouldn’t necessarily think are critical, they realize they’re critical when it’s presented to them, but they are critical just for the community as a whole on the William & Mary campus.
I think the foundation board, they do great things all the time. I mean, they’re a fantastic group of people. And then to be a part of a group that has been spearheading this campaign, For the Bold, has been, you know, it’s an honor. And to see them succeed is stupefying and amazing.
01:02:07 Then the Alumni Association board, they’ve really also elevated their game. It’s a very different board than what I remember from just graduating. The board really wants to represent the alumni body, and they’re making a very conscious effort to do it. And I think they’re meeting with a lot of success on that. And then to do things like—it was a personal honor for me to be the first chair for the William & Mary Weekend for the inaugural one. It was daunting, but it was great, and I was happy to be a part of it.
Carmen: Yeah, absolutely. I had the chance to go to New York for William & Mary Weekend. I wasn’t able to go to D.C. But I’ve heard nothing but just wonderful remarks about it.
Sophie: They’ve been great, yeah. And I’m looking forward to Chicago.
Carmen: Absolutely. I wanted to also ask…well, actually, now I want to ask what’s next. Do you have any idea what would follow the Alumni Association board?
Sophie: I don’t know.
Carmen: Or looking that far out.
Sophie: Well, I should probably think about something. I don’t know. We’ll have to see what comes up. I’m looking at doing…for myself I’m also just looking at doing some more volunteer things closer to home.
Sophie: So I’ve been exploring that. And started some volunteer stuff with hospice, which, some of my friends are like, how can you do that? It’s so sad. And you know what? It is, but it isn’t. I feel like…I’ve only been doing it for a few months, but the people I’ve met that do it are amazing.
Sophie: And to be able to go and provide, just whether it’s some respite or just some company for a short period of time has been a privilege, and I really, I’m treasuring it right now.
Carmen: I’m going to tear up.
Sophie: I’m sorry.
Carmen: No, it’s fine. Just how meaningful to the people that you’re going and sitting with or spending time with.
Sophie: It’s been…it gets sad, but it’s also, it’s an honor to be a part of somebody’s life and to be able to help them, so for that I really like it.
Carmen: Yeah, definitely. Well, that’s wonderful, wonderful. And I do want to circle back so we didn’t lose it in all of your involvement. But the endowment you established. Do you want to talk a little bit about your thoughts behind that?
Sophie: That was part of the whole Swem thing. That whole Information Commons area is such a great area. That’s also the area I got kicked out of, so I thought it was appropriate that there was an endowment there. So just to know that there’s this area in the front where people collaborate, and they socialize, and they work totally fits in with how I operate—[laughs]—apparently. So it was, you know, it was…it was fun to be able to do that.
And the Bracken in the Lee Bracken endowment is another college friend, Mary Beth Bracken. She lives in Virginia Beach. And I think basically I forced her to do it. I told her she was going to do it. Because I think it fits in with also how her mindset is about Swem.
01:05:55 So, you know, it was fun. It was, you know, and to do it when you’re young is, you know, you don’t know any better, so you just do it anyway, and it starts a whole thing.
Carmen: That’s awesome. And it sounds like you were very persuasive, because it did in fact end up happening.
Sophie: Or pushy.
Carmen: Whatever. You know, whatever you want to describe it as.
Carmen: So these last few questions are just really broad, and feel free to reflect on them how you will. What changes have you seen at William & Mary over time that have stuck out to you, and what do you think about them?
Sophie: I guess on a more official—or not official—adult view it’s been nice to see William & Mary sort of grow from, for lack of a better description, a provincial school to thinking about itself more internationally.
01:07:06 That’s been quite nice. I think just to be able, you know, to see all the programs and all the things that are going on on campus that you just don’t…that wouldn’t be the William & Mary that I knew when I was going here. And I think that’s good.
I had a great time. We all had a great time at the school. But it’s nice to see it grow in status or in stature and expertise, and to be able to say that I went there. It may not have been like that when I went there, but it’s like that now. And I think that’s a great thing. So that’s been something I’ve been happy to see.
01:07:55 I’m happy when I walk around campus and I see a lot more faces that look like me. And I’m not just saying Korean, I’m just saying diverse. It’s nice to see that. It is really a nice thing to see.
Carmen: And how much has the footprint of the college changed since you were here? Has it changed significantly or no?
Sophie: Let’s see. Footage-wise, I mean, it doesn’t change, but the buildings. I went into Yates one summer because my friend’s daughter was going to field hockey camp here, and I couldn’t reconcile that there was actually air conditioning in it, even though I think they still call it a temporary dorm. It was a temporary dorm when I was in school.
01:08:58 So that was a little weird because I thought that was…for one thing, it made the rooms smaller, which, they were already small to begin with. But then to see some of the other dorms, the newer dorms come online, those are amazing. To see the different buildings changing has been pretty incredible. The Integrated Science Center. Pretty gobsmacking. And Dillard. I have friends who lived down in Dillard, but I don’t know if people live out there anymore. I know they do like the baseball and the soccer practice out there, but…
Carmen: Yeah, I’m not sure.
Sophie: I just remember it being very close to Eastern State Mental Hospital, where I did a…I had to do a project out there. That was interesting. I guess what? Also see…ah. Yeah, just seeing the newness of things has been nice.
Carmen: Yeah, and there are things going up right now. I mean, the wellness center is underway.
Sophie: I know. Yes, that’s always very nice. I do remember—some things are still the same, which I find funny, like parking issues. I think we had a…did we have a protest? We had protest about parking services when I was in school. I have pictures of it somewhere.
Carmen: Oh, my goodness. We would love to see those. That’s actually really kind of awesome. What was the impact? Do you know if there was any result?
Sophie: I don’t remember. I just, you know, there was never parking, and…
Sophie: There’s never parking.
Carmen: Yeah, that problem persists.
Sophie: That doesn’t go away. Yeah, I’ll have to find some of those pictures. Parking was an issue. There’s more food choices than there were. I developed a love of grits here.
Carmen: That’s a good thing to take with you from… [Laughs.]
Sophie: You know, for whatever is new and all bright and shiny, there’s still the stuff that’s the same, which makes us happy, all my friends happy, when we come.
Carmen: Anywhere in particular you like to frequent when you come back?
Sophie: All the normal places. Cheese Shop, Paul’s, where, you know, we’ve had some funny times even lately at Paul’s. I remember going to Paul’s—I have a bunch of girlfriends that we come sometimes just for a girls weekend, we meet up. And we were at Paul’s and we were having pitchers, and I think one of the girls…I went to go get another pitcher and the girl looked at me, and I was about to pay her, and she’s like no. I was like, I’m sorry? She goes, Pete says it’s on him. And she’s like, who are you people?
01:12:00 I’m sure she’s just looking at a bunch of middle aged women showing up at Paul’s drinking pitchers. And I was like we’ve been coming here a very long time. A very long time.
Carmen: You’re getting the perks.
Sophie: I was like, if we could get free beers then we would have been a lot better. But yeah, to Paul’s. Where else do we go a lot? I go to Fat Canary a lot. But, you know, just walk around campus. That’s what we like to do.
Carmen: Yeah, it’s nice that you all come back periodically just to have a weekend.
Sophie: We come back. We stay at the same house for homecoming every year.
Carmen: Right. I think Audra was telling me about that, in fact. Right up the road down there.
Sophie: Yeah, we stay at the [Gelmans’] house. Until they tell us we can no longer stay there, we will be at the Gelmans’ house. Yeah. And we have the same crew that comes back pretty much every year. It doesn’t matter if it’s a reunion or not. So we just hang out and have a good time.
Carmen: That’s awesome. Are there any changes in particular you would like to see in the future?
Sophie: There’s a question. I don’t know. Not particularly. There’s nothing that jumps out at me. I think what I would hope is whatever changes come that there’s a nice balance between embracing what’s new but also holding onto the core values or the core William & Mary-ness along the way. It’s a balancing act, and I respect that.
Carmen: So just the last couple of questions, because I know you have a busy schedule. So we’re in the midst of a year long celebration for the 50th anniversary of African Americans in residence.
Carmen: Given that, can you tell me what you believe to be the value of diversity and inclusion on campus, and just more broadly?
Sophie: I think you have to have, I mean, it has to be diverse. You get different opinions, different perspectives. People come with different life experiences to incorporate into everybody else’s learning process, whether it’s direct or indirect. If it’s too homogenized, what’s the point?
Carmen: Absolutely. And a similar question. So you’re actually sitting down for an oral history celebrating and commemorating 100 years of coeducation at William & Mary. So given that, can you tell me what you believe to be the value and contribution of women? And your answer might be very similar.
Sophie: Oh, yeah. I think in a lot of ways it’s very similar. I just think, you know, we have a lot to say.
01:15:00 We have a lot to contribute. And it doesn’t matter what our gender is in terms of our contributions. I think in some ways a lot of the women’s contributions sometimes are more, maybe a little more indirect in the past, but I think that’s changing quite visibly, which is good. So it’s pretty much the same, I think.
Carmen: Great. So now I open it up to you. This is the chance to tell me those stories you didn’t want to mention before.
Carmen: Anything else I haven’t asked you that you thought I might. Just open to you now.
Sophie: Oh, gosh, I don’t know. I think, you know, it’s one of…just…I… I think most of the people, I would think a lot of—most of the people you interview will talk about, at some point, the friends that they have from William & Mary.
01:15:58 And I count myself very lucky because I have friends from school that I’m closer to than anybody else. But I also have friends from William & Mary from after graduation that I’ve made that are just as close. And that’s been fantastic. And a lot of that is just, I mean, that’s come from reengaging with the school, and just through that association meeting other people. And that’s been fantastic. Like even I have friends from the boards that I’ve served on.
I have a women’s group up in D.C. that we actually met yesterday, and we’re all graduates, but we’re all from different years, and very different experiences. But we have a group of women that we can be together and talk about professional concerns, private concerns, and have feedback that we value.
01:17:07 Because for one thing we know we come from a similar environment, or similar experience. It may not have been exactly the same, but the foundation of it is the same. And that makes a level of comfort that is not easily reproduced, even if you make a conscious effort to do that. So that’s been great.
Carmen: That’s great. And is there anything else that you want to add? Anything we should know about you that we haven’t covered, or your time here, or your time after?
Sophie: I guess no. I guess the only thing is that I’m so grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given here. I mean, people are always like oh, thank you for what you do for the college, but it’s been great for me. I mean, to be selfish, it’s been great for me. I’ve made friends, I’ve made connections. I get value from it from everything I do. And it’s what I want to do. And so that there’s a need for it, and an embracing of what I want to contribute is fantastic, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Carmen: That’s great. Well, if there is nothing else, we’ll wrap it up. Thank you so much, Sophie, for just taking the time and participating in this.
Sophie: Oh, you’re welcome. You’re welcome.
Carmen: It was a wonderful…
Sophie: It was easier than I thought it was going to be. I was like, what is…?
Carmen: Yeah, we try to make it very painless, so—
Sophie: Okay, so…
Carmen: —thank you again.
Sophie: You’re welcome.
01:18:39 [End of recording.]
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Special Collections Research Center at William & Mary Libraries welcomes non-commercial use and access that qualifies as fair use to all unrestricted interview materials in the collection. For more information about fair use, see William & Mary Libraries guidelines here.
The researcher must cite and give proper credit to Special Collections Research Center. The preferred citation is as follows:
[Interviewee name], interview with [Interviewer name]. [Interview date], [Name of Collection], Special Collections Research Center, William & Mary Libraries.
Example: Powell, Michael K., interview by Carmen Bolt. June 12, 2017, 50th Anniversary of African Americans in Residence Oral History Project, Special Collections Research Center, William & Mary Libraries.
For commercial use of any sort, including reproduction, distribution, derivative works, public performance, and public display that goes beyond fair use, the researcher must obtain written permission from SCRC by contacting SCRC by email here. Permission will comply with any agreements made with the interviewee, interviewer, or donor of materials. This permission is valid only insofar as Special Collections Research Center at William & Mary Libraries, as owner or custodian of the material, has any rights in the matter. This permission does not remove the responsibility of the author, editor, publisher, or broadcaster to guard against infringement of any rights, including copyright that may be held by others. The researcher must cite and give proper credit to SCRC. SCRC reserves the right to refuse the right for commercial use.
For most unrestricted interviews, copyright has been assigned to Special Collections Research Center at William & Mary Libraries. When the copyright has not been assigned to Special Collections Research Center at William & Mary Libraries, copyright is retained by the interviewers/interviewees, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
SCRC works to uphold the obligations and legal commitments made to interviewees, interviewers, and donors of material. Some interviews have restrictions imposed by the interviewee, interviewer, or donor; restricted interviews are clearly marked. In such cases, it is the researcher’s responsibility to uphold the restriction appropriately and completely. Researchers may, for example, be required to obtain written permission from the interviewee or interviewer to quote from the interview. Contact SCRC with any questions about restrictions by email here.
Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which Special Collections Research Center at William & Mary Libraries and William & Mary assume no responsibility.
If an interview has been transcribed, researchers should quote from the transcript. If no transcript is available, reference to material in the interview should be taken from the audio recording.
For preservation purposes, use of audiotapes or videotapes will require production of listening or viewing copies. If a researcher requires the creation of a listening or viewing copy, the researcher will be responsible for the cost. For more details about audio/visual reproduction policies at the SCRC at William & Mary Libraries, contact the SCRC by email here.
If you are in need of any accessibility accommodations that require the creation of a listening or viewing copy of material, please let us know prior to your visit. You can also find information on the library’s accessibility services here.