Interview with James Finley, Class of 1971



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Oral history interview with Illinois State Normal University alum James Albert Finley III, Class of 1971. The interview was conducted on October 17, 1981 by Nancy Magura, then a member of the Student Alumni Council.

Finley recalls the excitement of transitioning to university life, emphasizing the sense of independence and the high-quality education offered at ISU. He discusses ISU’s growing pains in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the student body shot up from 8,500 to 18,000 students, including crowded conditions and the construction of new buildings. “It was a good mix of tradition and change” in those days, he says.

Finley also reminisces about campus activities such as football games, basketball fever, and the camaraderie of the Redbird Rooters. He reflects on the university presidents during his tenure at ISU, notably Sam Braden and Francis Geigle, highlighting Braden's accessibility and Geigle's interim leadership. He also fondly remembers professors and university officials who played a significant role in shaping his academic journey, such as Robert Elsey, Helen Cavanaugh, and Harvey Zeidenstein. He discusses his participation in extracurricular activities like the Academic Senate and Young Republicans, emphasizing the diverse opportunities available to students.

Finley shares insights into campus services, cost of living, fashion trends, and popular forms of entertainment. He reflects on the growth of the towns of Bloomington and Normal and recalls campus unrest following the Kent State shootings. He also recounts an anecdote involving “a group on campus a little more loyal to the government” taking all copies of an issue of the student newspaper The Daily Vidette and disposing of it at the Bloomington dump because it contained an anti-Vietnam War insert.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; foremost memories of ISU: 00:00-01:51
  • Presidents Braden, Geigle, and Berlo: 01:51-03:45
  • Notable faculty and administrators: 03:45-05:05
  • Comparative difficulty of completing a college education: 05:05-06:02
  • Extracurricular activities: 06:02-06:53
  • Student services: 06:53-07:35
  • Prices for common goods; tuition costs: 07:35-08:39
  • Typical mode of dress: 08:39-09:32
  • National news: 09:32-10:20
  • Entertainment: 10:20-10:56
  • Bloomington-Normal: 10:56-11:50
  • Alcohol and tobacco use: 11:50-12:35
  • Most and least favorite aspects of ISU; crowding due to rapid growth : 12:35-14:00
  • Campus boundaries and buildings: 14:00-15:55
  • Panty raids; Vidette dumping incident; protests following Kent State shootings: 15:55-18:09
  • Conclusion: 18:09-18:59

Interview with James Finley, Class of 1971