The project was launched at Harvard's Centre for Middle East Studies. It provides scholars endeavouring to study the contemporary political history of Iran with primary source material, consisting of personal accounts of 132 individuals who played major roles in important political events and decisions in Iran from the 1920's to the 1970's; or witnessed these events and decisions from close range. Prince Hamid Kadjar was the grandson of Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar (reigned 1907-9), nephew of Ahmad Shah (reigned 1909-25), and son of Crown Prince Mohammad Hassan Mirza (1909-25) and Mohtaram al-Saltaneh Razzaghi, the second of five wives married to the Crown Prince. He was born in Tabriz on April 23, 1918. In October 1925, the Iranian Majles (parliament) disposed the Qajars after 140 years of rule. On the same day, Prince Hamid's father, who was holding fort in Tehran during Ahmad Shah's extended stay in Europe, was expelled from the country. He headed for Paris and joined the rest of his family. At the age of seven he was sent to England to live and study under the guardianship of a prominent English family.
In 1942, as the Second World War engulfed Europe, Prince Hamid volunteered for the Royal Navy and was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant. Prince Hamid lived his years of retirement with his wife in London. After a brief illness, he died on May 5, 1998 and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. In an obituary, the Times of London (May 9, 1988) said, 'Though very much a Persian in appearance, Prince Hamid had a bluff and breezy British quarterdeck manner, combined with a shrewd insight into both British and Iranian affairs. He excelled as a raconteur and had a wide circle of British friends.'
Habib Ladjevardi has been the director of the Iranian Oral History Project at Harvard University since 1981. Born in Tehran, he grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y., and was educated at the Yale Engineering School and the Harvard Business School. Dr. Ladjevardi returned to Iran in 1963 and began work as personnel manager in his family's business. Subsequently he was responsible for founding the Iran Center for Management Studies in Tehran, where he taught until 1976. He also served on a number of boards and councils in the private and public sectors. Dr. Ladjevardi received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 1981.