The Association of National Park Rangers is making sure that important stories of its longtime members are recorded, preserved and protected as part of an oral history project inspired by the National Park Service centennial in 2016. Two ANPR members — Erika Jostad, president, and Alison Steiner, board member for strategic planning — recently donated 16 oral history interviews to the NPS Park History Program. Accepting on behalf of the program were Lu Ann Jones, oral history specialist, and Robert K. Sutton, chief historian.
"These recordings, transcripts and supporting materials are an invaluable addition to our archives," Sutton noted. "These resources will shape the kind of history we're able to write about the Park Service."
In 2012 and 2013 ANPR completed two rounds of interviews at its annual Ranger Rendezvous. A team of oral historians from the Park Service and ANPR has conducted 28 interviews with longtime employees, all of whom helped create the modern Park Service. These men and women joined the agency in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, and they occupied leadership positions during decades of great change. During their tenure, the NPS expanded significantly, the country adopted laws that challenged the Service's management policies, and the demographics of the agency's workforce and its visitors underwent major shifts.
By the NPS centennial in 2016, ANPR plans to record, transcribe, archive and share 50 interviews with Park Service personnel, ranging from emeritus employees to the newest hires. The audio recordings and transcriptions of the oral histories will be archived at the Harpers Ferry Center in West Virginia and are already being shared via publications and websites.
ANPR's oral history project joins a long tradition in the NPS of using interviews to safeguard the collective memory and expertise of those who have shaped the Service over the years. It also advances the top priorities of NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis by passing on important lessons to a younger generation of Park Service personnel as part of workforce development.
"Our partnership with groups like ANPR is vital as we expand our collection of oral histories," Jones said, "especially because we're at a watershed moment in the Park Service's history."
To read interview excerpts see the oral history page
. For more on oral history in the Park Service see www.nps.gov/history/history/oralhistory_NEW.htm