Explore the Library & Archives
Civil Discourse: William F. Buckley Jr.’s Firing Line, 1966–1999
“While I take issue with what you say, I tremendously admire the marvelous way you say it.”
–Letter to William F. Buckley Jr. from a Firing Line viewer, 1966
The Hoover Institution Library & Archives exhibition Civil Discourse: William F. Buckley Jr.’s Firing Line, 1966–1999 commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of William F. Buckley Jr.’s legendary television program. With 1,505 episodes aired over thirty-three years, Firing Line first revolutionized, then set the standard, for televised public affairs shows. Television’s longest-running political talk show with a single host, Firing Line featured William F. Buckley Jr., a conservative and recognized master of debate, in conversation with many of the most remarkable—and often the most radical—public figures of his day. Throughout the show's long and influential run, Buckley hosted statesmen, politicians, political activists, economists, journalists, scholars, authors, religious figures, philosophers, poets, and actors whose opinions ranged across the political and ideological spectrum. Prominent guests who appeared on Firing Line included Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Muhammad Ali, Allen Ginsberg, Milton Friedman, Joan Baez, Truman Capote, Jesse Jackson, Betty Friedan, and Norman Mailer. The success of the show proved that televising the civil exchange of conflicting but considered opinions held undeniable powers to entertain, inform, and, ultimately, influence public opinion in America.
Drawing on the rich broadcast records of Firing Line at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, the exhibition displays video, photographs, transcripts, newsletters, viewer correspondence, and publicity materials to spotlight the memorable encounters and remarkable exchanges that kept American viewers of all political persuasions coming back every week for more than three decades.
Civil Discourse: William F. Buckley Jr.’s Firing Line, 1966–1999, opens Tuesday, April 19, 2016, and runs through August 20, 2016. The exhibition is open to the public, free of charge, Tuesday–Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion (next to Hoover Tower) on the Stanford University campus. Parking on campus is free on Saturdays. For directions and parking, click here.
Information about past exhibits created by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.
In observance of the university's winter closure, the exhibition will be closed December 21, 2015 through January 4, 2016.
The Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion is located on the Stanford University campus next to the Hoover Tower. Designed by architect Ernest J. Kump and built in 1978, the exhibit pavilion features rotating exhibitions on a variety of topics highlighting the world-renowned collections of the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. Materials featured in exhibitions may include political posters, photographs, letters, diaries, memorabilia and rare publications.
Previous exhibitions have included:
- A Century of Change: China 1911-2011
- A Revolutionary Idea: Hoover Making History since 1919
- Shattered Peace: The Road to World War II
- Hostage of Eternity: Boris Pasternak, 1890–1960
- Creating an Islamic Republic: Iranian Collections from the Hoover Library and Archives.
The Exhibit Pavilion is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free of charge. Please check here for the current exhibition schedule, or call the Hoover Archives' front desk at 650-723-3563, or the Exhibit Pavilion at 650-723-3666.
From Highway 101 North and South:
Take the Embarcadero Road exit west toward Stanford. At El Camino Real, Embarcadero becomes Galvez Street as it enters the university. Stay in the left lane and continue toward the center of campus. There is metered parking on the right side of Galvez Street, on Memorial Way. Galvez Street ends at Serra Street and Hoover Tower can be seen on your right. Take the stairs to the left of the main entrance of Hoover Tower. The glass and wood one-story building on your left is the Herbert Hoover Memorial Pavilion.
From Highway 280 North and South:
Exit Alpine Road east toward Stanford. Continue east, turning right at the traffic light on Junipero Serra Boulevard. Turn left at the first stoplight, Campus Drive East. Continue on Campus Drive East, turning right at Galvez Street. The metered lot is on Memorial Way. Hoover Tower can be seen on your right.
Dedicated by our founder Herbert Hoover in 1941, the Tower is open daily from 10am to 4pm, except holidays. Visitors can view two permanent exhibit rooms on Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover and a small exhibit case in the rotunda with rotating exhibits highlighting Hoover Institution Library & Archives materials.
For stunning views of the Stanford campus and the South Bay (with San Francisco and San Jose in the distance), a guide service will bring you up to the observation platform and point out specific landmarks ($2 general, $1 seniors and children under 12, and free for Stanford affiliates). Daily from 10 to 4, except holidays, with last ticket sales at 3:50. For more information about tower tours, visit the Stanford website or call (650) 723-2053.
The tower's fourteenth floor houses a carillon of 48 bells cast in Tournai, Belgium. An inscription on one of the largest bells translates as "For peace alone do I ring." To learn more about the carillon's history, read "I Ring Only For Peace" by Elena Danielson in Hoover Digest.
Although we cannot outdo Stanford's visitor information website or the horticulture and landscape site maintained by Stanford Buildings and Grounds, we want to share the Library & Archives staff's favorite campus spots.
Cantor Arts Center - Admission is free at this museum, which offers a wide range of changing exhibitions. The Rodin Sculpture Garden is always open, with lighting for nighttime viewing.
Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden - Artists from New Guinea created these sculptures while visiting Stanford; the Rodin sculptures were among their many influences. The garden is at the corner of Santa Teresa Street and Lomita Drive.
Dale Chihuly's glass chandelier - The atrium of the Lokey Stem Cell Research Building at 265 Campus Drive boasts a two-ton chandelier created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. It contains more than two thousand individually blown pieces of glass.
Oregon Courtyard - In the spring, take in the flowering cherry trees in this courtyard designed by landscape architect Thomas Church. It is on the east side of the Main Quad just off Lasuen Mall, across from the School of Education.
Hoover Tower - Stanford's top destination is the view from the top of this campus icon. The best doughnut around is on the tower's ground-floor atrium, where changing exhibits of Library & Archives materials are shown in a set of glass cases shaped like a doughnut.