The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project, 2005-2009

Descriptive Summary
Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Title: The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project, 2005-2009
Collection No.: SdArch 29
Creator: Students of Professor Daniel Kerr, James Madison University, 2005-2009
Extent: 3 boxes; .99 cubic feet; 103 cds
Abstract: The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project, 2005-2009, is comprised of interviews with residents of Rockingham and Augusta County, conducted by James Madison University students in fulfillment of coursework in classes taught by Professor Daniel Kerr. Interviewees discussed a wide range of topics, including labor and civil rights activism, immigrant experiences, agriculture, ex-offenders, homelessness, LGBTQ+ experiences, and the poultry industry.

Administrative Information
Access restrictions: Access to the oral histories is governed by agreements with the interviewees. In the event that interviewees did not grant permission for full online access to recordings and documents, transcripts (if available) are open to research in the Special Collections Reading Room. Pseudonyms are used when requested by the interviewees.

Use restrictions: Oral histories audio and transcripts are either in the public domain or the copyright interests have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

All images and supplementary documents are subject to copyright and are provided for educational purposes only. They may not be downloaded, reproduced or distributed in any format without permission from the donor.

Acquisition Information: Materials were donated in two installments. The first set of 20 interviews and background materials were donated by Dr. Daniel Kerr, History Professor at James Madison University, in June of 2006. The second set of 79 interviews and background materials were donated on June 1, 2010, by Professor Daniel Kerr.

Preferred Citation:
[Name of interviewee] interviewed by [Name of interviewer], [date of interview], SdArch 29-[number], Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project, 2005-2009, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University.

Processing Notes: At the point that the first oral histories were accessioned, the audio was converted from .wav files to .mp3s to create an access copy. Transcripts and background documents were made available in digital form in html and/or pdf format. Restricted interviews and material are noted in this finding aid.

A second accession comprised of 82 cds included the original recordings submitted by students, as well as preservation copies of the interview material, prepared by Dr. Kerr. Most of the cds included the audio recording (.mp3 and WAVE file), and a transcript, background journal, and an interview guide (.pdf and/or .doc). All media is labelled with the collection number, interview number, and a unique id, and is housed in the Special Collections media cabinet.

Separated Material: Audio cds are housed in media cabinet.

Bio/Historical Note:
The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project was initiated by Professor Daniel Kerr at James Madison University in Fall 2005 as a component of the course, HIST 339: Selected Themes in U.S. History. Students conducted and transcribed the interviews of Shenandoah Valley residents, primarily in Rockingham and Augusta Counties. From 2006-2009, Professor Daniel Kerr had students conduct oral histories in additional courses, namely HIST 339: US Environmental History and HIST 441/641: Oral History and Social Justice.

Scope and Content:
The Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project, 2005-2009, is comprised of audio interviews, transcripts, background papers, digital photographs and supplementary digital material related to Shenandoah Valley residents, primarily in Rockingham and Augusta Counties.

Each interview typically consists of an interview guide, an interview journal/log, the transcript of the interview, the recorded interview, and, when present, images and other supplementary material. 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 provide biographical details of the interviewee, as well as the transcription of the recorded interview.

Interviewers questioned individuals on their life history, employment, and areas of expertise. The topics covered in the interviews range widely. Topics include various businesses and institutions including Wampler Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Western State Hospital, the Virginia State Hospital, Shenandoah National Park. Several interviews cover the poultry industry, including interviews with poultry growers, processing workers, processing managers, and people who manage by-products. Other interviews address topics such as homelessness, the prison system, veterans issues, LGBTQ+ issues, Native Americans, immigrant experiences, agriculture, and labor and civil rights activism.

Arrangement
The collection is divided into two series, based on the time of accession.

Series 1: Oral History Interviews, 2005-2007, is comprised of 20 interviews conducted by students in Dr. Kerr’s course: HIST 339: Selected Themes in U.S. History.

Series 2: Oral History Interviews, 2006-2009, is comprised of 79 interviews conducted by students in Dr. Kerr’s courses, HIST 339: US Environmental History and HIST 441/641: Oral History and Social Justice.

Folders are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the interviewee.

Contents

Series 1: Oral History Interviews, 2005-2007, is comprised of 20 interviews conducted by students in Dr. Kerr’s course: HIST 339: Selected Themes in U.S. History.

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.

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, and transcript 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.

Series 2: Oral History Interviews, 2006-2009, is comprised of 79 interviews conducted by students in Dr. Kerr’s courses, HIST 339: US Environmental History and HIST 441/641: Oral History and Social Justice.

Interview Number Title
29-21 Al Saadun, Nasser, interviewed by Dan Brennan, April 9, 2009
29-22 Allen, Robert, interviewed by Patrick Callahan, December 1, 2008
29-23 Alvarado, Juan, interviewed by Terrence Haliburton, April 9, 2007
29-24 Anderson, Daniel, interviewed by Senay Gebremedhin, April 23, 2009
29-25 Anonymous Female, interviewed by Tiffany Cole, March 6, 2009 Restrictions Apply
29-26 Anonymous Male, interviewed by Tim Van Schaich, March 7, 2007 Restrictions Apply
29-27 Anonymous Male, interviewed by Chelsea Hersch, April 19, 2007 Restrictions Apply
29-28 Arefaine, MicKnai, interviewed by Senay Gebremedhin, April 24, 2009
29-29 Blakey, Barbara, interviewed by Kristy Kendall, February 23, 2008
29-30 Branham, Kenny, interviewed by Joseph Gregory, March 6, 2006.
29-33 Burruss, William T., interviewed by Jessica Woodward, March 5, 2007
29-34 Capps, John, interviewed by Tiffany Cole, April 11, 2009
29-35 Carr, Norman, interviewed by Matthew Caggin, March 18, 2009
29-37 Custer, Elizabeth (Libby), inverviewed by Laura Hawxhurst, November 10, 2008
29-39 Elliott, Carolyn Sue, interviewed by Joseph Gregory, March 25, 2006
29-40 Flory, Gary, interviewed by Adam Regula, November 13, 2006
29-41 Flory, Gary, interviewed by Ian Hallada, November 5, 2008
29-42 Grower 1, interviewed by Trey VanHout, November 22, 2006 Restrictions Apply
29-43 Grower 1, interviewed by Trey VanHout, November 22, 2006 Restrictions Apply
29-45 Hadley, George, interviewed by Richard F. Jones, April 15, 2007
29-46 Hall, John, interviewed by Meryl Rubin, November 10, 2006
29-48 Hamilton Duff, Victoria, interviewed by Joseph Gregory, March 9, 2006
29-49 Hammond, Marshall, interviewed by Jeffrey Joyce, November 17, 2008
29-50 Harris, Kendall, interviewed by Matthew Neese, April 20, 2007
29-51 Hearl, Lacy, interviewed by Joseph Gregory, March 7, 2006
29-52 Hernandez, Sandy and Jacinto, interviewed by Claire Moore, December 2, 2005
29-55 Kiracofe, Jeffrey, interviewed by James Dennis, March 13, 2009 Restrictions Apply
29-56 Kiracofe, Vallie, interviewed by James Dennis, April 3 2009
29-57 Layman, Allen, interviewed by Stephen Coords, March 25, 2009
29-57 Layman, Allen, interviewed by Stephen Coords, March 25, 2009
29-58 Lohr, Matthew, interviewed by Matthew Lohr, April 12, 2007
29-59 Luebben, Carl, interviewed by John Erdos, October 24, 2008
29-60 Manka, John, interviewed by Tyler Maupin, September 28, 2008
29-62 May, Betty and Martha Ringwald, interviewed by Heather Crabtree, March 16, 2007
29-62 May, Betty and Martha Ringwald, interviewed by Heather Crabtree, March 16, 2007
29-63 Mehegan, James O., interviewed by John Profita, March 16, 2007
29-64 Metzler, Martha Garibay, interviewed by Abigail Eisley, April 9 and 13, 2009
29-65 Michael, Donald, interviewed by Sean Maher, November 22, 2008
29-66 Miller, Charles W., interviewed by Tim Van Shaik, April 12, 2007
29-67 Miller, Forrest, interviewed by Mary Catherine Collins, April 3, 2007
29-68 Osorio, Rene and Janet, interviewed by Sean Dougherty, December 12, 2006
29-69 Patton, Richard, interviewed by Christina Wulf, November 14, 2008
29-70 Preston, Rob, interviewed by Carole Ryan, October 25, 2006
29-71 Processing Worker 1, interviewed by Kerry Gorey, March 16, 2007 Restrictions Apply
29-72 Randall, Susan, interviewed by Matthew Neese, April 23, 2007
29-73 Rezain, Osman, interviewed by Dan Brennan, March 20, 2009
29-74 Royer, Adam, interviewed by Heather Crabtree, April 6, 2007
29-75 Royer, Samantha, interviewed by Ali Womack, April 17, 2007
29-76 Ruvalcaba, Evelio, interviewed by Ali Womack, translated by Jessica Killeen, March 23, 2007
29-77 Salatin, Joel, interviewed by Jessica Silvery, April 21, 2007
29-79 Saylor, Justina, interviewed by Ali Womack, April 10, 2007
29-80 Sayre, Brent, interviewed by Mary Catherine Collins, March 12, 2007
29-81 Showalter, Marlan, interviewed by Caitlin Boyer, November 11, 2008
29-82 Sites, Debbie, interviewed by Abigail Eisley, March 24, 2009
29-83 Stoneburner, Dennis, interviewed by Richard F. Jones, April 15, 2007
29-84 Strickler, Robert H. (Twig), interviewed by Jessica Woodward, April 23, 2007 Restrictions Apply
29-85 Swope, Richard, interviewed by Tim Van Schaick, March 7, 2007
29-87 VP Sales, interviewed by Matt McDonald, November 17, 2006 Restrictions Apply
29-88 Venable, Mary, interviewed by Kristen Brady, March 22, 2007
29-89 Venable, Mary, interviewed by Terrence Halliburton, April 24, 2007
29-89 Venable, Mary, interviewed by Terrence Halliburton, April 24, 2007
29-90 Vines, James and Laura, interviewed by Dottie Westhafer, March 8, 2007
29-91 Walker, Jacqueline B., interviewed by Sherri Lee Jones, November 27, 2007
29-93 Wampler, Charles W. Jr., interviewed by Jessica Silveri, March 15, 2007
29-93 Wampler, Charles W. Jr., interviewed by Jessica Silveri, April 17, 2007
29-95 Ware, Mason and Martha, interviewed by Dottie Westhafer, April 2, 2007
29-96 Weaver, Lefa, interviewed by Heather Crabtree, April 6, 2007
29-97 White, Caleb, interviewed by Stephen Coords, April 19, 2009
29-98 Winyan, Keya and Cheryl L. Metz, interviewed by Victoria Edward, April 11, 2009
29-98 Winyan, Keya and Cheryl L. Metz, interviewed by Victoria Edward, April 11, 2009
29-99 Wood, Karenne, interviewed by Victoria Edwards, March 3, 2009

 

Compiled by: Tracy Harter, 2008; Edited by Sarah Roth-Mullet, June 2018