Oral History

People's stories are among the most valuable resources that the National Park Service preserves and protects for future generations.

 

4 individuals participate in oral history interview. Sitting around a table on a porch in summer. 7 individuals participate in an oral history interview. Around a table in front of a blue wall.
Oral history interviews help National Park Service rangers document the history of park sites and interpret them for visitors. NPS photo. Students in the 2012 "Effective Oral History" course interview Michael Watson, former superintendent, at Mather Training Center in Harpers Ferry, WV. NPS photo.

 

The Park Service has a rich tradition of oral history. The Directory of Oral History in the National Park Service describes how scores of parks use oral history interviews to:

  • document the people and events they commemorate;
  • capture multiple perspectives on past events;
  • enhance museum exhibits;
  • manage cultural and natural resources;
  • make interpretive and educational programs more relevant to visitors;
  • connect with new audiences through the Web; and
  • record the history of individual parks and Park Service personnel.

 

Park Ranger Jan Kirwan

Spotlight on Oral History

Since 2013, the Association of National Park Rangers has partnered with the Park History Program to conduct a Centennial-inspired oral history project. Read how veteran Park Service personnel learned their jobs, built careers, put policies into practice, and combined work and family life.

You can also listen to the Centennial Voices series on our Soundcloud Page.

 

Questions?

Have questions about oral history or need help planning a project? Contact Lu Ann Jones, staff historian, Park History Program, at luann_jones@nps.gov or 202-354-2219.