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A Guide to the Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project, 2005-2006

Collection Number: SdArch 29


CARRIER LIBRARY, JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY
Harrisonburg, VA 22807


Compiled by: Tracy Harter, 2008

Descriptive Summary

Repository:  Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title:  The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project, 2005-2006

Collection No.:  SdArch 29

Creator:  Students in Daniel Kerr's History 339 class, Spring 2006.

Extent:  .63 linear feet; one Hollinger box plus digital material

Abstract:

The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project consists of audio interviews, transcripts, and background material dating from 2005-2006 conducted by James Madison University students in Professor Daniel Kerr's course Selected Themes in U.S. History, HIST 339.  Interviewees were primarily from Rockingham and Augusta Counties. Topics range from labor and civil rights activism, Native Americans, Latino immigrants, ex-offenders, the homeless, and gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Administrative Information

Access restrictions:

The interviewers and seventeen of the twenty interviewees gave permission for their recordings and supplementary material to become part of the public domain; of those, 16 are provided online and are not subject to copyright restrictions.  Recordings and textual materials for which full online access was not expressly given are not available online, but are open to research in Special Collections.

Use restrictions:

There are no copyright restrictions for any audio or documents which are part of the public domain.  Images are an exception. Copyright to all images is held by the interviewee and is provided for educational purposes only. They may not be downloaded, reproduced or distributed in any format without permission of the donor.  Recordings and textual materials for which pseudonyms were requested have been honored.

Acqusition Information:

Received from Daniel Kerr, History Professor at James Madison University, in June 2006.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of Interview, Interviewee, Date],The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project, 2005-2006, SdArch 29, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Accruals:

May receive additions of material.

Processing Notes :

Audio was converted from .wav files to .mp3s for ease of use.  Textual materials provided in digital form have been made available in html and/or pdf format.  Restricted interviews and material are denoted in this finding aid.

Separated Material:

Compact discs are housed separately.

Alternate Formats:

Most of the collection is available in digital format; see appropriate links in the following contents list.

Other Finding Aid:

See also Daniel Kerr's searchable website: http://web.jmu.edu/history/NewOralHistory.html

Historical Note

The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project was initiated by Professor Daniel Kerr at James Madison University in the fall of 2005 as a component of History 339, Selected Themes in U.S. History.    Students conducted and transcribed the interviews of Shenandoah Valley residents, primarily in Rockingham and Augusta Counties.  Interview topics range from the poultry industry, labor and civil rights activism, Native Americans, Latino immigrants, ex-offenders, the homeless, and gays, lesbians and bisexuals.  

Scope and Content

This collection consists of .63 linear feet of material, dating from 2005-2006.  The collection is divided into three categories: full online access, online access with pseudonyms, and restricted, then arranged alphabetically by interviewee last name.  Audio cds are housed separately.  Seventeen of the twenty interviews and their supporting materials are available through digital links on this finding aid.  Three interviews and supporting documents are not available digitally and are served in Special Collections.

The documentation for each interview typically consists of an interview guide, an interview journal/log, the transcript of the interview, the recorded interview, and, when present, images.  The interview guide contains questions that the interviewer would have used during the interview.  The interview journal offers the interviewer's insights and experiences before, during and after the interview.  The transcripts for each interview are all formatted uniformly, and provide biographical details of the interviewee as well as the transcription of the recorded interview.

Arrangement
The collection is divided into three categories: full online access, online access with pseudonyms, and restricted, then arranged alphabetically by interviewee last name. When present, documents within the folder are arranged as follows:  Interview Guide, Interview Journal/Log, and Transcript.  Recorded Interviews and Images are not physically present in the collection but are digital links in this finding aid.

Contents

Full Online Access

Daniels, Greyson, interviewed by Shannon Gavin, 3/15/06  [SdArch29-1, Folder 1]

Explores the experiences of this native of Newport News, Virginia, who served four years in Virginia's correctional system before being transferred to the Gemeinschaft Home in Harrisonburg pending his release.  The Gemeinschaft Home is a Transitional Therapeutic Community (TTC) that provides counseling, job training and responsibility skills to ex-convicts about to re-enter the community. Describes the events that led to Daniels' sentencing, his incarceration and his experiences in the Gemeinschaft Home program. Discusses Daniels' impressions of the strengths and weaknesses of the TTC program and his steady rise resident to councilor within the system.

Farrish, John D., interviewed by Scott Burwell, 12/5/05  [SdArch 29-2, Folder 2]

Describes the history of the Teamsters Union in the Shenandoah Valley, specifically Teamsters Local 29, which was formed in 1963.  Farrish joined the union as a driver in 1975, eventually rising to the post of president of the union in 1997.  Discusses general working conditions in the Shenandoah Valley and issues of race and migration.  Also mentioned are union member benefits, the matter of 'right to work' and 'closed shop' states, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Fisher, Betty Kilby, interviewed by Carrie MacLeod, 3/28/07  [SdArch 29-3, Folder 3]

Describes her experiences as an African American student in Virginia during the early years of school desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s.   Describes the policy of "massive resistance" whereby the governor of Virginia closed the public schools in an effort to avoid integration.  Recalls the efforts of her father, James W. Kilby, who named Fisher as a plaintiff in the Virginia court case Betty Ann Kilby v. Warren County Board of Education which ultimately lead to the integration of Warren County High School in 1958.   Concludes with a discussion of her life after graduation and her reflections on the lessons learned over the past fifty years of school desegregation.

Johnson, Mabel, interviewed by Hayden Van Dyke, 3/21/06  [SdArch 29-4, Folder 4]

Describes her experience working in several poultry processing plants in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for more than twenty years, primarily as a union steward for the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) from 1977 until her retirement in 1986.  Discusses her early childhood and family life and her election to shop steward, succeeding her husband, who held the post at the time of his death in 1977.   Discusses the working conditions, wages and occupational hazards in the industry during those years and her commitment to ensuring worker's rights through organized labor unions. Recalls walk out strikes at several poultry plants in the Valley during the 1970s.

Layman, Allen, interviewed by Hayden Van Dyke, 4/05/06  [SdArch 29-5, Folder 5]

Records his experiences as a thirty year employee of the Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia.  Mr. Layman was the president of the local chapter of the United Radio, Electrical and Machine Workers of America (UE), the labor union representing para-professional and housekeeping staff at the psychiatric facility.  Recalls various occasions when the UE was asked to arbitrate on behalf of hospital staff members.  Discusses the perceived attitudes of some hospital managers toward the classified staff, cases of alleged malfeasance by hospital management, and the overall effects on employee retention.

Maul, Kris, interviewed by Joanna Lee, 3/28/06  [SdArch 29-6, Folder 6]

Examines the impact of incarceration on a prisoner's family members.  This interview, which was given with his permission and the permission of his mother, records the thoughts and feelings of the eight year old son of an inmate serving a sentence in the Virginia correctional system.

 

Michael, Greg, interviewed by Joanna Lee, 4/23/06  [SdArch 29-7, Folder 7]

Discusses the experiences of a West Virginia farmer who served fourteen years in prison for selling marijuana in the 1990s.  Topics include his early family life, his arrest and the events surrounding his trial and sentencing.  He discusses the conditions in the federal prisons in West Virginia and Maryland in which he served his time.  Relates the coping strategies he employed while incarcerated, such as teaching yoga to fellow inmates, working in the prison kitchens and writing poetry, some of which was published.

Morrison, Pat, interviewed by Amy R. Larrabee, 4/21/06  [SdArch 29-8, Folder 8]

Records the reminiscences a life-long Virginia native who moved to the Harrisonburg area as a child in the 1950s.  Describes her early family life, school days, and other experiences growing up in the Shenandoah Valley.   Discusses race relations and school integration during the 1960s, her marriage after graduation from high school, and life as a military wife stationed in Germany.  Describes her work as a food service technician at Harrisonburg High School and Waterman Elementary School, and changes to the school lunch program over the years.

Patterson, Julia (with Mercedes Williams), interviewed by Amy R. Larrabee, 3/11/06

[SdArch 29-9, Folder 9]

Records the reminiscences of an African American woman who worked as a live-in domestic in New York, New Jersey and Virginia for more than sixty years.  Discusses her early family life as one of seventeen siblings growing up in rural Virginia in the early decades of the 20th century.  Ms. Patterson is occasionally joined by her half-sister Mercedes "Sadie" Williams at various points throughout the interview. Recalls daily life under Segregation as well as wartime rationing in the 1940s. Closes with a discussion of her life since her retirement at the age of 86.

Peachy, Tom, interviewed by Carrie MacLeod, 4/12/06   [SdArch 29-10, Folder 10]

Records the reminiscences of Tom Peachy, a long time resident of Warren County, Virginia. Describes his early family life and education. Recalls the decision by Warren County to close the public schools in an effort to avoid school desegregation in 1958. Discusses his views on integration and equal rights, as well as his secondary education and work history. Peachy worked as a missionary, a teacher and a psychologist over the course of his professional life. Closes with Peachy's reflections on how his training as a psychologist has shaped his religious beliefs and world view.

Robinson, Monica, interviewed by Nicole Snyder, 3/23/06   [SdArch 29-11, Folder 11]

Records the experiences of Monica Robinson, a Special Education teacher and community activist who has lived in Harrisonburg, Virginia, since the mid-1970s. Describes her family life, early education and changing social and economic conditions in Harrisonburg. Discusses the legacy of urban renewal on Harrisonburg's minority neighborhoods in the 1950s and 1960s as described by Robinson's mother and other long time residents. Discusses Robinson's involvement with the local chapter of Copwatch, an all-volunteer citizen group that observes and records interactions between police officers and Harrisonburg's growing minority populations. Describes the impact of the federal government's "Weed and Seed" which was designed to remove criminal elements from low income neighborhoods while encouraging civic improvements at the local level.

Shelton, Garfield, interviewed by Nicole Snyder, 3/03/06   [SdArch 29-12, Folder 12]

Records the experiences of Garfield Shelton, who provides a general life history from the perspective of a person living with schizophrenia in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Swarts, Crysta, interviewed by Heather Campbell, 3/02/06  [SdArch 29-13, Folder 13]

Records an interview with Crysta Swarts, a student at James Madison University, who relates her life experiences as a bisexual woman. Describes her family and social life and the impact of her sexual identity on those relationships. Discusses her dating experiences with men and women over the previous five years and the discrimination she sometimes experiences from heterosexuals, gays and lesbians. Reflects on her religious beliefs, the positive aspects of her life and her plans for the future.

 

Velazquez, Alice, interviewed by Amanda Harris, 3/30/06  [SdArch 29-14, Folder 14]

Records the life of Alice Velazquez from her childhood to her current endeavors in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She discusses her family situation as a child, jobs she has had throughout her life, her marriage, her children, and her housing opportunities in Harrisonburg after moving from New York state.

 

Wills, Travis, interviewed by Ellen K. Donnelly, 4/21/06  [SdArch 29-15, Folder 15]

Records the life experiences of Travis Wills, a 21 year old Virginia native residing in Harrisonburg. Describes his experience as the only openly gay student in a rural Virginia high school and of the difficulties faced by the gay and lesbian community in the Shenandoah Valley. Discusses his religious convictions and his thoughts on the roots of homophobia in society. Reflects on the changes that have been slowly occurring in the schools since his graduation and on Harrisonburg's growing gay community.

Online Access with Pseudonyms

JMU Professor, interviewed by Ellen Donnelly, 5/1/06  [SdArch 29-16, Folder 16]

This interview with a long-time faculty member at James Madison University recounts his experiences as a gay man living and working in Harrisonburg for more than 25 years. Discusses his own college years, when he first realized he was gay and describes the social conditions at the time for gays and lesbians. Reflects on his teaching experiences at JMU, his religious views, and Harrisonburg's growing gay community.

 

"Joe," interviewed by Ellen Donnelly, 3/16/06  [SdArch 29-17, Folder 17]

Records the life experiences of "Joe", a student at James Madison University, who came out to his family and friends as being gay when he was still in high school. Discusses the day to day realities of growing up gay in the very conservative city of Lynchburg, Va., comparing it with the greater freedoms he has experienced in Harrisonburg. Discusses his views on dating, politics, equal rights for gays and lesbians, and the issues still facing that community.

 

Restricted

Interview guide, journal, transcript and audio available in Special Collections

Mr. Armstrong, interviewed by Lorraine White, 4/14/06   [SdArch 29-18, Folder 18]

Records the experiences of Mr. Armstrong, an ex-convict residing in Virginia. Describes the events leading to his arrests and convictions as a young man and his experiences while serving his sentences in various jails and penitentiaries in Virginia. Discusses the conditions he encountered while incarcerated, his family relationships, interaction with law enforcement, and his efforts to start a new life in the years since his release. Includes comments by one of Mr. Armstrong's siblings regarding the effects of being related to a convict has on the inmate's family members, especially in a small, rural community.

Miss Hughes, interviewed by Heather Campbell, 4/13/06  [SdArch 29-19, Folder 19]

Records an interview with Miss Hughes, a student at James Madison University, who relates her life experiences as a bisexual, African American woman. Describes her family and social life and the impact of her sexual identity on those relationships. Discusses her dating experiences with men and women over the previous six years and the discrimination she sometimes experiences from heterosexuals, gays and lesbians regarding her bisexuality. Reflects on her religious beliefs, the positive aspects of her life and her plans for the future.

Mr. Scott, interviewed by Lorraine White, 3/26/06   [SdArch 29-20, Folder 20]

Records the experiences of Mr. Scott, an ex-convict residing in Virginia. Describes the events leading to his arrests and trial and his experiences while serving his sentences in various jails and penitentiaries in Virginia. Discusses the conditions he encountered while incarcerated, his family relationships and his efforts to start a new life in the years since his release.

  
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