Special Collections Guides

A Guide to the Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection, 1964-1999
Collection Number SdArch SNP

Compiled by: Gillian Schulz and Chris Bolgiano, March 2002

Updated May 2010 by Tiffany W. Cole

Please note that the the links to the audio files for all of the oral histories in this collection are currently broken while we work to establish a new host for this material.

The interview recordings are still available to listen to in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Descriptive Summary

Repository:  Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: The Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection

Creator:  Various

Extent:  6 Hollinger boxes, 6.6 linear feet of media cabinet drawers; 9.1 linear feet total

Abstract:  The Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection, SdArch SNP, 1964-1999, consists of audio, transcripts, and images pertaining to interviews conducted primarily by Dorothy Noble Smith in addition to members of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, park collaborators Eugene and Diane Zior Wilhelm, Darwin Lambert, and others. 

Administrative Information

Access restrictions:

 

 

Restricted interviews are noted with R.

Use restrictions:

 

 

Restricted interviews are noted with R.

Acqusition Information:

 

 

The collection was donated by the National Park Service in May 2001.

Preferred Citation:

 

 

Interview with [interviewee name] by [interviewer name], [interview date] [interview number], in the Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection SdArch SNP, Special Collections, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Alternate Formats:

 

 

All interviews are retained in an audio form whether on tape or reels in addition to a digital form.

Processing Notes :

 

 

Nearly all original interviews were recorded on five-inch reels.  Most recordings had been transferred to cassettes at an earlier date.  The majority of interviews have been migrated to digital format with the bulk having a corresponding transcript.

Biographical/Historical Note:

Beginning in December 1924, groups like the Southern Appalachian National Park Committee and the Shenandoah National Park Association began to champion the project of creating a park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  In the spring of 1926, Congress passed the bill authorizing the establishment of the Shenandoah National Park and the subsequent reclamation of lands owned or farmed by mountain residents.  Subsequently over 450 families were relocated from the park boundaries and moved to nearby communities.  After the park was officially established in December 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began building visitors centers throughout the mountains.

Dorothy Noble Smith (1915-1999) was a native of New Jersey and a graduate of Duke University.  She had a distinguished career in banking in New York City before retiring to Luray, Virginia.  She was a contributing writer for the Page News and Courier for more than twenty years.  Fascinated by a way of life that was drastically altered with the creation of the Shenandoah National Park in December 1935 she, along with other people associated with the park service, conducted recorded interviews in the late 1970s and early 1980s to document the lives and stories of the former residents of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Her findings based on the oral histories conducted were published in Recollections:  The People of the Blue Ridge Remember 

Founded in 1927 on the principles of volunteerism and public service to outdoor enthusiasts, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, is one of 30 trail clubs located in cities along the Appalachian Trail.  The PATC's section of trail includes 240 miles beginning at Pine Grove Furnace in Pennsylvania and ending at Rockfish Gap at the southern end of the Shenandoah National Park.  The PATC's activities include building and maintaining trails, cabins, shelters, and publishing a monthly newsletter.  PATC members Edward Garvey (1914-1999), Samuel Moore (1920-1999), and Walter Smith conducted interviews in this collection.

Diane Zior Wilhelm (1938-2010) and Eugene Joseph Wilhelm, Jr. conducted many of the earliest interviews within this collection.  Diane's interests encompassed Andean Indians, Irish street-traders, New Jersey suburbanites, and Blue Ridge Mountain people focusing on an anthropological persepective.  She taught at Middlesex County College in New Jersey from 1967 until her retirement in 2007.  A year prior to her death, Dr. Wilhelm was contacted by Special Collections staff, and expressed interest in donating the remainder of her materials and notes from interviews to this collection.  Eugene's interests included geography and ecology.  He wrote his dissertation entitled Folk Georgraphy of the Blue Ridge Mountains while at Texas A & M.  Eugene was a visiting geography professor at the University of Virginia and professor of geography at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  Beginning in 1956, the couple often spent weeks during the summer in the Shenandoah National Park researching and interviewing mountain residents.

Darwin Lambert (1916-2007) was the first employee of the National Park Service at the Shenandoah National Park, hired March 1, 1936.  Interested in the relationship between man and nature, He authored several books pertaining to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah National Park including those listed below in the bibliography and as related material.

This collection was originally housed at the Shenandoah National Park headquarters in Luray, Virginia, but was never served to the public because the oral histories were not considered official park records.  In May 2001, under the direction of Cultural Resource Specialist Reed Engle, the collection was donated to James Madison University.

Scope and Content

The Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection, SdArch SNP (formerly SC# 4030), 1964-1999, consists of 135 interviews of people who were living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia prior to the creation of the Shenandoah National Park. Most of the interviewees resided on land that was claimed by eminent domain by the Commonwealth of Virginia and subsequently turned over to the U.S. Government in the 1930s. The collection is comprised of 6 Hollinger boxes and 6.6 linear feet of media cabinet drawers of audio, transcripts, and images pertaining to interviews conducted primarily by Dorothy Noble Smith as part of her research for Recollections:  The People of the Blue Ridge Remember in additon to members of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, park collaborators Eugene and Diane Zior Wilhelm, Darwin Lambert, and others.

Topics discussed by interviewees include mountain folklife, music, food preservation, traditional medicine, agriculture and harvesting, bark peeling, moonshining, chores and family life, and schooling with additional references to the Civilian Conservation Corp, the New Deal, promoter of Skyland Resort and author George Freeman Pollock, and residents' feelings towards the creation of the Shenandoah National Park.  Interviews conducted by Barbara Wright, Norman Taylor, Gloria Updike, and Ken Steeber were presumably added to the collection separately from the interviews conducted in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

Arrangement
The collection is arranged alphabetically by interviewee's surname.

Bibliography

Interview with Cecil B. Graves by Diane Zior Wilhelm, May 10, 1966, SdArch SNP-056, in the Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection SdArch SNP, Special Collections, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Lambert, Darwin.  The Undying Past of the Shenandoah National ParkBoulder, Co.:  Roberts Rinehart, Inc. Publishers, 1989.

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club

Reeder, Carolyn and Jack.  Shenandoah Heritage:  The Story of the People Before the ParkWashington, D.C.:  The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, 1978.

The Star-Ledger, January 10, 2010

Related Material

Smith, Dorothy Noble.  Recollections:  The People of the Blue Ridge Remember.  Verona, Va.:  McClure Printing Company, 1983.

Lambert, Darwin.   The Earth-Man Story:  Starring Shenandoah National ParkNew York:  Exposition Press, 1972.

--- Beautiful Shenandoah:  A Handbook for Visitors to Shenandoah National Park.  Lynchburg, Va.:  J.P. Bell Company, 1937.

Pollock, George F.  Skyland:  The Heart of the Shenandoah National Park.  1960

Wilhelm, Eugene J., Jr.  The Blue Ridge:  Man and Nature in the Shenandoah National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway.  Charlottesville, Va.:  University of Virginia, 1968.

Contents [Printable List]

Interviewee

SNP#
Interviewer
Date of Interview
Abel, Arlene Carr
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 2, 1979
Anderson, Ada "Addie" R
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 28, 1978
Atkins, Beulah
Dorothy Noble Smith
January 3, 1979
Atkins, Elmer
Dorothy Noble Smith
July 24, 1979
Atkins, Sallie; Dodson, Lela; Atkins, Beulah
Dorothy Noble Smith
February 27, 1979
Austin, Louise Wood R
John Dooms
December 1, 1975
Baker, Victor and Ebbie; Showalter, Alberta; Bowman, Marie R
Barbara Maynes
September 13, 1979
Baldwin, Joseph
Dorothy Noble Smith
December 13, 1979
Baugher, Harold
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 6, 1979
Beahm, Isaac William
Charles Anibal
October 23, 1985
Beahm, Lyle
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 25, 1979
Berry George
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 7, 1979
Bradley, John R
Dorothy Noble Smith
June 12, 1978
Breeden, Everett
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 14, 1978
Breeden, Preston R
Charles Anibal, Edward Garvey, Samuel Moore
November 19, 1982
Burke, Weldon
Dorothy Noble Smith
December 16, 1978
Burner, James
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 16, 1977
Burrill, Edna R
Darwin Lambert
June 16, 1986
Carter, Walter R
Ken Steeber, Walter Smith, Gloria Updike, Howard Struthers
May 31, 1998
Cave, Mr. and Mrs. Elzie (1)
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 5, 1978
Cave, Elzie (2) R
Amanda Moody, Leigh Jones
August 31, 1978
Cave, Evidell
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 11, 1979
Cave, Ralph
Nancy Smith
September 21, 1977
Cave, Vallie; Thomas, Floyd R
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 19, 1978
Chapman, Charles
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 19, 1978
Early, Mrs.; Coyner, George
Amanda Moody
c. 1978
Coffey, Wallace (Ross) and Martha R
Ed Elmwert, Eugene Wilhelm, Diane Wilhelm
July 6, 1964
Coffman, Lucille Blose
Dorothy Noble Smith
August 2, 1978
Corbin, George (1) R
Edward Garvey
January 9, 1966
Corbin, George (2) R
Edward Garvey, Paul Lee
April 20, 1969
Corbin, Robert
Paul Lee, Allan Tanner
September 11, 1976
Corbin, Virgil
Dorothy Noble Smith
January 3, 1979
Cline, Rufus and Hazel
Amanda Moody
c. 1978
Cullers, Claud
Dorothy Noble Smith
March 27, 1980
Cupp, Bennie; Roach, Lula; Roach, Hazel Marshall
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 15, 1979
Dean, Randall R
Dorothy Noble Smith
June 29, 1979
Deane, Lola
Dorothy Noble Smith
March 16, 1979
Dearing, Mamie Jenkins
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 5, 1980
Dodson, Estelle Nicholson
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 23, 1977
Dodson, Hunter
Eugene and Diane Wilhelm
July 3, 1964
Dubosq, Rev. John
Dorothy Noble Smith
December 1, 1977
Eppard, Irene V.
Dorothy Noble Smith
August 9, 1978
Estes, Charles H.
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 10, 1978
Finks, Fisher F.
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 6, 1978
Fisher, Vastine
Barbara Wright
April 10, 1995
Fox, Annie Virginia
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 14, 1980
Franklin, Butler-Brayne
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 28, 1977
Fray, Joseph
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 2, 1980
Frazier, Homer
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 4, 1977
Frazier, Miley R
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 12, 1975
Freeland, Edward R
Darwin Lambert
May 14, 1978
Garrison, Harold
Zirkle, Janna
October 9, 1980
Grannis, Louis C.
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 2, 1977
Graves, Cecil C.
Diane Willhelm
May 5, 1966
Graves, Francis Matt R
Deedee Deane, Vee Dove, Phil Hastings, John Dooms
December 18, 1975
Graves, Louis R SNP-068 Reed Engle August 9, 1997
Grove, J. Maurice and Frances Grove
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 30, 1977
Harris, Paul Everett
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 14, 1979
Harris, Roy Frank
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 10, 1979
Hickerson, James Edwin, Sr.
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 16, 1978
Hitt, Marcellus Monroe, Jr.
Dorothy Noble Smith
unknown
Hoffner, Rosie Hurt
Nancy Smith
October 1976
Housh, Dorothy H.
Dorothy Noble Smith, Dennis Carter
March 30, 1978
Huffman, Edgar L.
Dorothy Noble Smith
February 23, 1979
Hutton, Mary Sandys, "Deaconess"
Dorothy Noble Smith
July 29, 1977
Johnson, Mamie Clarice; Harrell, Betsey R
James R. Johnson
February 6, 1966
Jones, Clark; Keyser, Flora "Coonie"
Dorothy Noble Smith, James Northrup
July 11, 1979
Jones, Eli T. "Dudley"
Dorothy Noble Smith
December 3, 1979
Jones, Erma; Taylor, Lucy
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 19, 1979
Judd, Austin C.
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 19, 1977
Judd, Gladys Beahm
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 26, 1977
Judd, Loula B. (1)
Nancy Smith
November 20, 1975
Judd, Loula B. (2) R
Nancy Smith
March 11, 1976
Kenney, Virginia A. and Robert B.
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 8, 1978
Knight, Josie
Dorothy Noble Smith
December 4, 1981
Lam, Howard
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 21, 1978
Lam, Zada
Dorothy Noble Smith
August 3, 1978
Lang, Nettie S. Breeden
Dorothy Noble Smith
June 4, 1980
Layman, Robert R
Diane and Eugene Wilhelm
July 7, 1964
Long, Louise V. R
Darwin and Eileen Lambert
April 16, 1986
Long, Mae Atkins
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 28, 1978
Lucas, Owen R
Norman Taylor
August 27, 1991
Mace, Herman
Dorothy Noble Smith
March 28, 1977
Maiden, Howard
Dorothy Noble Smith
August 3, 1977
McCoy, Cletus R
Dorothy Noble Smith
March 9, 1980
Meadows, Clarice
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 20, 1979
Meadows, Cleadus
Dorothy Noble Smith
June 11, 1979
Meadows, Hazel
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 5, 1979
Meadows, Lena T. (Vasalena Taylor)
Dorothy Noble Smith
December 8, 1977
Miller, Franklin and Margaret R
Dorothy Noble Smith
March 14, 1978
Mooney, Magdalene R
Gloria Updike
February 17, 1999
Morris, Raymond
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 23, 1979
Morris, William R.
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 1, 1979
Mundy, Sadie R
Amanda Moody
August 18, 1978
Nicholson, Edward S.
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 19, 1977
Nicholson, LeRoy
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 16, 1979
Nicholson, Nelson M. and Claudia
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 28, 1977
Nicholson, Ray A.
Dorothy Noble Smith
August 14, 1979
Patterson, Allen
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 13, 1979
Rickard, Blanche
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 26, 1978
Ross, Charles J.
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 16, 1978
Sampson, Zenith Shifflett R
Chris Brasted
March 11, 1993
Samuels, Edith Alger
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 17, 1979
Schaffner, E. Ray R
Darwin Lambert
June 24, 1977
Seale, Jessie
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 17, 1977
Scott, Edward and Russell Barlow R SNP-094 Dorothy Noble Smith February2, 1978
Shifflett, Mr. and Mrs. Pat E.
Dorothy Noble Smith
July 30, 1979
Shifflett, Bernice R
Amanda Moody
August 29, 1978
Shifflet, Carl
Dorothy Noble Smith
August 22, 1977
Shifflett, Ella R
Bob and Pat Momich
November 13, 1974
Shifflett, Irvin
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 29, 1979
Sirbaugh, Nettie R
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 11, 1978
Sisk, Jake
Dorothy Noble Smith
December 16, 1978
Smith, Mrs. Benton (Pearl)
Dorothy Noble Smith
September 24, 1977
Snow, Etta and Charlie
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 8, 1978
Snow, Etta (with children) R
unknown
October 27, 1978
Somers, Clarence R
Dorothy Noble Smith, Jim Cotter
September 11, 1976
Sutherland, Marguerite
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 13, 1979
Taylor, David
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 25, 1977
Tompkins, Lorraine; Brown, Tina R
Norman Taylor
August 31, 1991
Trout, Norm; Johnson, Bob R
unknown
March 16, 1977
Twyman, Davis
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 21, 1977
Wagner, Charles R
Norman Taylor
August 28, 1991
Wampler, Everett R
Paul Lee
October 1, 1974
Waterhouse, Rev. Wilfred T. and Beatrice M.
Dorothy Noble Smith
June 20, 1977
Waters, Cletus R
Dorothy Noble Smith
March 19, 1980
Weaver, Delmar F. R
Dorothy Noble Smith
December 9, 1977
Wilberger, Frank R
Amanda Moody
November 18, 1978
Williams, Elzie R
Dorothy Noble Smith
unknown
Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon
Dorothy Noble Smith
May 30, 1979
Wood, Lola R
Joy Stiles
July 15, 1985
Wood, Luther and Myra Sandice
Dorothy Noble Smith
October 15, 1979
Wood, Raymond
Amanda Moody
September 14, 1977
Woodward, Mrs. Willie
Dorothy Noble Smith
November 23, 1977
Yager, Jenkins, and Gray
Dorothy Noble Smith
June 2, 1978
Yager, Mattie
Dorothy Noble Smith
April 25, 1978
Yarrow, Darrell
Dorothy Noble Smith
July 31, 1978