In Memoriam: James Sterling Young

James Sterling Young, University of Virginia emeritus professor, founder and former director of the Miller Center’s Presidential Oral History program, died Aug. 8 in Albemarle County. He was 85.   

After coming to the Miller Center in 1978 from Columbia University, Young became director of its Program on the Presidency, initiating an innovative oral history project on the Jimmy Carter White House in 1981. In 1999, Young came out of retirement to direct a successor project on President George H.W. Bush. These efforts led to a continuing program on oral history at the Miller Center, including projects on Presidents Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush.

Most recently, he directed the Ted Kennedy Oral History Project, interviewing the late senator about 30 times. Kennedy used the recordings in writing his own memoir, “True Compass.”

Young recorded more than 400 oral history sessions for the Miller Center’s various projects. He won the Bancroft Prize, considered to be among the most prestigious awards in the field of American history writing, for his 1966 book, “The Washington Community, 1800-1828.”

He is survived by his wife, anthropologist Virginia Heyer Young, two daughters and two grandchildren. 

Washington Post obituary

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