Twenty-two participants from units across the National Park Service learned how to plan an oral history project, conduct in-depth interviews, archive and preserve recordings, and interpret oral history sources in a training course held at Stephen T. Mather Training Center in early September. The Park History Program and Mather Training Center sponsored the session.
Course coordinator Lu Ann Jones, historian with the Park History Program in the Washington Office, worked closely with Roger Anderson, training manager for cultural resources stewardship, and other Mather staff to offer students extensive hands-on experience. A highlight of the week was the opportunity to conduct interviews with current and emeritus Mather employees. The interviews will contribute to an anticipated administrative history of the training center.
A team of instructors shared their expertise for the course, entitled “Effective Oral History: Interviews, Project Management, and Practical Applications.” They were Jo Urion, historian at Keweenaw NHP; Paul Rogers, Pacific West regional archivist; Jennifer Talken-Spaulding, National Capital regional cultural anthropologist; Carla Mattix, an attorney at the U. S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor, Division of Parks and Wildlife; Chuck Dunkerly, video editor at Harpers Ferry Center; and Bill Mansfield, former interviewer with the Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project, Southeast Regional Office. Jeremy Kaufman, internship coordinator, Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, and Michael Hosking, museum curator, Harpers Ferry NHP, helped facilitate group interviews.
Course participants included historians, interpretive park rangers, museum curators, cultural resources specialists, archeologists, and anthropologists. They were Kristine Abu-Hantash, Alibates Flint Quarries NM and Lake Meredith NRA; Christine Arato, Northeast Regional Office; Keola Awong, Hawaii Volcanoes NP; Rachel Brown and Ronald J. Emery, American Indian Liaison Office; Mark Calamia, Pipestone, NM; Samantha Christine, Glen Echo Park; Janet Cohen, Grand Canyon, NP; Ray DePuydt, Lake Roosevelt NRA; Bill Fischer, Fort Scott NHS; Meighan Foster, Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial; Michael Hosking, Harpers Ferry NHP; Neil Koch, National Mall; Tricia Miller, Ozark NSR; Debbie Mills, Catoctin Mountain Park; Carol Petravage, Harpers Ferry Center; Katrina Pierson and Barbara Prettyman, Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve; Cynthia Walton, Southeast Regional Office; Danica Willis, Whiskeytown NRA; and Barbara Wyatt, National Register of Historic Places/National Historic Landmarks Programs.
Two former superintendents at Mather Training Center who shared their stories were Martha B. Aikens and Michael D. Watson. Current Mather and NPS Learning and Development staff who discussed their careers were Dave Dahlen, superintendent; Katrina Fritts, NPS Distance Learning operations specialist; and Steve Hastings, training manager for the NPS Learning and Development Division/ Historic Preservation Training Center.
Click on the link below to learn more about oral history in the Park Service.