Tech's Living History

Living History Program Celebrates 1000th Interview

Tech's Living History

Georgia Tech’s most famous student – George P. Burdell – has achieved yet another accolade after being asked to record his story for Georgia Tech’s Living History Program.

Burdell’s interview is No. 1,000, marking a major milestone for the program, which began recording the oral histories of alumni, staff, and friends of the Institute in 1994. Living History Director Marilyn Somers has seen and heard a lot of interesting stories during her 20 years of interviews.

So, does she have any favorites? “No one in their right mind would think of listing ‘favorite’ interviews, but unique interviews—now that is a different story,” said Somers.

“Unique, in that they were one of a kind, is still a bit of a challenge, but here are four that meet that criteria.”

Marilyn Somers
Marilyn Somers, Georgia Tech Living History Program Director. Photo by Rob Felt.

Robert Morris, EE 1944

First, as in the very first interview ever done by the Program, is unique because you can only have “first” once! Meet Robert Morris.

Mr. Morris was patient and very kind to the rookie crew who really didn’t know all that much about recording history. He told funny stories, described what it was like to grow up in the Depression and did his best to entertain and support us.

In the video excerpt below, Mr. Morris talks about coming to Atlanta from Oklahoma after the Depression, and borrowing $50 to enroll at Tech.

Interview date: July 11, 1994.

Lulu Smith Westcott

Next, the daughter of the first graduate of the Georgia School of Technology, Lulu Smith Westcott, and unique doesn’t begin to describe the sprightly centenarian.

Our trip to Dalton was like traveling back in time, for Miss Lulu, at 103 years, was eager to tell us about her father’s life—his integrity and ingenuity. It was amazing! She was as bright as could be and advised us that “she was a Ramblin’ Wreck.”

In the video excerpt below, Miss Lulu talks about going to Tech games with her father and sitting on the 50-yard line.

Interview date: September 16, 1999.

General Raymond G. Davis, ChE 1938

Gen. Raymond G. Davis, U.S. Marine Corps, earned his four stars and the Medal of Honor, serving his country in three wars. He saw more action than John Wayne ever even dreamed about.

Gen. Davis was quiet-spoken and incredibly humble, and listening to him talk about his experiences on the battlefield, you knew immediately why his men respected him so much. He was truly an American hero, although he steadfastly maintained that the heroes were the soldiers who didn’t come home.

In the video excerpt below, Gen. Davis talks about the principles of leadership and how they must be applied to changing situations.

Interview date: August 15, 1995.

George P. Burdell, GS 1930

Choosing an alumnus for the 1,000th interview was quite easy. Who is hands down the best known alumnus among his peers? Earned the most degrees?  Has become known as the “spirit of Tech?” Why George P. Burdell, of course! 

The session with George was completely unscripted and delightfully surprising. We were so pleased when he agreed to do the interview in the first place and happy to ensure his anonymity while still sharing him with the Tech community. 

In the video excerpt below, Burdell explains how he remains youthful with the help of BioTech Quad researchers who pinpointed the human genome that causes aging.

Interview date: 12th of Never.

(Left: George P. Burdell illustration by Greg Williams)


Writer: Melissa Weinman
Feature Producer: Victor Rogers
Digital Designer: Melanie Goux

For more information on the Georgia Tech Living History Program, see the (silent) slideshow below and visit: