Listen: Oral History Recordings

A flight crew poses in two rows, standing and kneeling near WWII aircraft
The flight crews of the 73rd Bombardment Squadron (M) at McChord Field.

Photograph courtesy of John Pletcher (NPS/GATE)

Aleutian World War II National Historic Area

Aleutian World War II National Historic Area has recorded stories from military veterans, home front workers, and Native Aleuts who were evacuated and interned during the war.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway features interviews with people who lived in communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway, workers who designed and built the parkway, and former Park Service employees.

Ellis Island / Statue of Liberty National Monument

The Ellis Island Oral History Project has documented the experiences of more than 1,700 immigrants that traveled through Ellis Island. Along with complete recorded interviews, audio excerpts and transcripts are organized by selected subjects.

Fort Hunt, George Washington Memorial Parkway

The Fort Hunt Oral History Project: P.O. Box 1142 documented the stories of World War II veterans who carried out critical intelligence assignments at the site, known by its secret code name, P.O. Box 1142.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail recognizes that Native Americans have their own ways of viewing what was known as the Corps of Discovery. Hear tribal perspectives on the Lewis and Clark mission at the Trail Tribes website.

Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site uses oral history interviews to tell stories of Japanese American incarceration during World War II. Listen to some of the stories by tuning in to the Densho archive, California Light and Sound and Manzanar's YouTube Channel.

Nine members of the Mochida family, adults and kids, awaiting evacuation bus in 1942.
Members of the Mochida family awaiting evacuation bus.

Photograph by D. Lange (May 8, 1942); Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, WRA No. C-153.

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

The Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site has collected video and audio interviews with the Little Rock Nine and other members of the community who witnessed or took part in the integration efforts of 1957-1959.

Manzanar National Historic Site

With the help of partners, Manzanar National Historic Site shares interviews with Japanese Americans interned at the War Relocation Center in eastern California during World War II. Partners include the California Audiovisual Preservation Project and Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The Pearl Harbor audio archive comes from oral history video interviews with Pearl Harbor Survivors. The oral history interviews with civilians and military personnel from both the United States and Japan document and preserve the experiences and memories of those who witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. Transcripts of from these interviews are also available on the park website.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park's "I Remember Yosemite" oral history project saves the stories of people who have helped shape and whose lives have been shaped by the park.

Open Transcript


Yosemite Valley LAJ: What was your first impression of Yosemite? JDS: [00:12:35] It was an amazing deal for me, very emotional, actually, still when I talk about it or think about it. I drove in to Yosemite Valley, up what was then the Priest grade, really steep, winding road, and I had never been on a road like that before, and it was raining very, very hard. I mean, my old wipers weren’t doing it. As I was driving on that road, I thought, “You know, if I go off this road, nobody has any idea where I am.” This is way before cell phones, and my parents didn’t know what route I was taking, and I took two weeks to get out there just to see the country. But by the time I drove into the valley, the valley was all socked in, and, again, winding roads and narrow and steep dropoffs, and it was just at dusk. So I went into the valley and ended up with not knowing where to go. Of course, I ended up at the lodge. LAJ: The Ahwahnee? JDS: No, just at the little lodge there. And I said, “I’m working here.” They said, “Well, do you know who you’re working for?” I said, “Yeah, the Park Service.” So they called the park dispatch, and J.T. Reynolds came and picked me up and brought me over to the Ranger Club where I was staying, and J.T. and I have been friends ever since. In fact, he was best man at my wedding, and we’ve been great friends for all these years. So that night it was still raining, and I didn’t have any idea where I was, other than in this old log structure, small room. I woke up in the middle of the night because it sounded like somebody was strangling babies out in front of my window. I had never heard coyotes before, and they had made a kill of some sort. Now I recognize the sound, but I didn’t then. It was spine-tingling for me then. I never did go back to sleep, so I was up and moving around before the sun came up, and I don’t know why but I don’t even remember looking out the window, but I walked out of the Ranger Club just as the sun was coming up and the clouds were breaking up, and there’s the falls right there; you could hear it. And there was snow halfway down the valley floor. It was just spectacular. I had no idea a place like that existed. It was amazing. LAJ: And there you were. You were going to be working there. JDS: [00:15:31] Yes. I spent all day walking around with my head up. I finally got on the shuttle. I never ate breakfast, never stopped for lunch, just went from one place to another, and finally ended up finding a place to eat dinner, and still stayed out the whole day and watched the moonrise. I mean, it was just crazy, beautiful. I just never—I couldn’t get enough of it, and it still affects me that way today, even though I’ve lived and worked there for four and a half years or so.

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3 minutes, 47 seconds

Interview with J. D. Swed, who first joined the National Park Service as a seasonal ranger in the early 1970s.

Yosemite National Park

J. D. Swed still remembers the first time he saw Yosemite Valley in the early 1970s when he joined the National Park Service as a seasonal ranger. The interview with J.D. Swed is available on YouTube.

Women in Alaska Parks

“Women Making History In Alaska Parks” features audio and transcripts of oral history interviews with women who worked in National Park Service units in Alaska.

StoryCorps Midwest

In partnership with StoryCorps, the Midwest Region of the National Park Service celebrated the 2016 NPS Centennial through sharing and preserving favorite parks memories. The Stories from the Midwest project toured the region to record conversations from the local communities, visitors, and employees of the parks, using the StoryCorps interview model: a 40-minute conversation between two people who know each other well.

StoryCorps: Gateway Arch National Park

Roger Smith and Terry DiBlasi are veteran mechanics of the National Park Service at Gateway Arch National Park (formerly Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) in St. Louis, Missouri, which includes the Gateway Arch. They work on the tram that takes visitors up and down the 630 foot high Arch.

StoryCorps: Nicodemus National Historic Site

The only remaining western town established by African Americans during the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War, the town of Nicodemus is symbolic of the pioneer spirit of African Americans who dared to leave the only region they had been familiar with to seek personal freedom and the opportunity to develop their talents and capabilities. Barbara Christian and Thomas Wellington share memories and stories about Nicodemus.

StoryCorps: Midwest Regional Office

Stationed at the NPS Midwest Regional Office in Omaha, National Park Service Park Ranger and Wildland Firefighter, J. Michael Johnson, talked with his wife, Joyce Van Horne, about his passion for his work.

StoryCorps: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Retired Air Force Major Glenn Plumb Sr. talked to his son, Glenn Jr. about retrofitting minuteman missiles in South Dakota in the early 1970s. Growing up near what is now Badlands National Park, Glenn Jr.described how he developed a love for buffalo that led him to be a chief wildlife biologist for the National Park Service.

StoryCorps: Mount Rushmore National Monument

Bill and Cheryl Schreier talk about their life as a 'dual career couple' in the National Park Service.

StoryCorps: Harry S Truman National Historic Site

Three Master Gardeners for the Harry S Truman National Historic Site -- Gretchen Lathrop, Lynn James, and Janeil Egger -- talked about working at President Truman's home in Independence, MO, and balancing Master Gardener practices with the sometimes contradictory responsibilities of historic cultural landscape maintenance.

StoryCorps: George Washington Carver National Monument

Lana Henry and her daughter Bethany Rosenbaum described their love of the National Park Service. Lana has worked at George Washington Carver National Monument for almost four decades and Bethany also envisioned a career with the NPS.

Last updated: August 13, 2021