OH 408-05: Dr. Meyer Chessin discusses his childhood and the arc of his career as Professor of Botany at the University of Montana, Missoula, from 1949 to 1990. He tells of growing up in the Bronx with his Russian Jewish immigrant family; his schooling in the Bronx, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Ohio State during the Depression and WWII; early employment as a plant quarantine border inspector in California, a machine welder producing Liberty ships, and a radio repairman in Berlin immediately following WWII; his social involvement and activism at U of M regarding the environment (herbicides, air and water pollution), Vietnam, and atomic testing; political meetings run by English Department faculty and attended by professors such as Leslie Fiedler, Mel Wren, ‘Smoky’ Joe Kramer, and Burt Pfeiffer; the expectation that professors at U of M would be service-oriented; the experience of being Jewish in Montana; some of the research projects going on in the Botany Department in his early days at the University; and general changes at the University over time in terms of size, funding structures, relative levels of collegiality, and emphasis on service for students and faculty.
University of Montana, Meyer Chessin, Botany
University of Montana Oral History Project OH-408, Archives & Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana
University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library
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Oral History Number
1 sound file (1:37:55 min.) : digital, + 1 transcript (34 p. : 28 cm.)
oh 408-05.mp3; OH408-005.pdf
Chessin, Meyer, "Meyer Chessin interview" (2006). University of Montana Oral History Project. 5.