Oral History Project

Project Overview

In commemoration of the National Park Service Centennial, the Association of National Park Rangers launched an oral history project in 2010. Our goal is to record, transcribe, archive and share interviews of Park Service personnel who have shaped the agency's history during its second half-century.

To date, ANPR has conducted a large number of interviews with longtime employees, all of whom helped create the modern Park Service. They 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 a significant shift.

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. The interviews also pass on important lessons to a younger generation of Park Service personnel. The information collected during these interviews can be used immediately as part of workforce development and leadership succession. It is also vital to the long-term stewardship of the agency's history and the education of its early-career employees.

ANPR is committed to properly preserving and protecting the interviews that it conducts. Every interview completed has been transcribed, edited and archived. The audio recordings and transcriptions of the oral histories are archived and available to users at the Harpers Ferry Center in Charles Town, West Virginia.

In the 1970s, Laurel Munson Boyers was among a pioneering generation of women who assumed new roles in the National Park Service. Listen to Boyers describe one frightful night as a wilderness ranger, stationed at Buck Camp in Yosemite National Park..

SoundCloud Interview: NPS Wilderness Ranger

Butch Farabee was a revered National Park Service ranger who excelled in search and rescue. During his interview, he described how the demand of his job took a toll on family life.

SoundCloud Interview: Family and Work

Ranger Magazine Excerpt (PDF): Family and Work

How do you build a successful career in the National Park Service? In this installment of Centennial Voices, Wendy Lauritzen describes how she combined careful planning, serendipity, the guidance of mentors, and a professional organization to build a satisfying career.

SoundCloud Interview: Developing a Career

Ranger Magazine Excerpt (PDF): ANPR has 'given me my career'

Dick Martin served as the second superintendent Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska between 1985 and 1990. The assignment, in hold interviewer Alison Steiner, taught him how to work with communities in the face of controversy. This interview was part of the Association of National Park Rangers Oral History Project.

SoundCloud Interview: My Role Was to Listen

Ranger Magazine Excerpt (PDF): My Role Was to Listen

Diane and Dan Moses share what it was like to raise two daughters while living and working in the national parks. Listen along as they tell their stories of giving birth during a Yellowstone winter, finding community in the parks, and allowing their daughters to explore freely.

SoundCloud Interview: Raising Kids in the Parks

In 1988 Ed Rizzotto began working at Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City. During his seven years at Gateway helped him recognize the unique role that urban parks play in the National Park System and in people’s everyday lives.

SoundCloud Interview: The Importance of Urban Parks

Ranger Magazine Excerpt (PDF): I'm proud of what we did

Dealing with Death: J.D. Swed shares some of this experiences as a search and rescue ranger in the parks. He discusses how he learned to deal with death and helped others to do the same.

SoundCloud Interview: Dealing with Death

A Flathat and a Horse: In this segment, we hear how a disciplined mentor and a balky horse teach a seasonal National Park Service ranger the importance of his image as well as his duties.

SoundCloud Interview: A Flathat and a Horse

Family and Work: Retired Park Ranger JD Swed talks about how family life and work are interrelated in the National Park Service.

SoundCloud Interview: Family and Work

First Impressions of Yosemite Valley: JD 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.

YouTube: First Impressions of Yosemite Valley

Ranger Magazine Excerpt (PDF): It Was Best To Be Honest

Do you realize how many people it takes to make the National Park System work? Many are like Flo Six Townsend, who found her Park Service passion in career development and employee training. In 2013 we talked as part of the Association of National Park Rangers Oral History Project. Townsend reflected on her satisfaction is helping others advance their careers and how she herself discovered and developed her own talents in the National Park Service.

SoundCloud Interview: Paying it forward

Calling a National Park Home: What's it like to grow up in a national park? Retired NPS superintendent Bill Wade will tell you.

SoundCloud Interview: Calling a National Park Home

Protecting Shenandoah's Resources: In this episode, Bill Wade describes how he had to bend the rules to safeguard resources when he was superintendent of Shenandoah National Park in the 1980s. The result? Some admonishments; a few accolades; and a sense of a job well done. Thanks to the Association of National Park Rangers for this oral history collaboration with the Park History Program.

SoundCloud Interview: Protecting Shenandoah's Resources

Ranger Magazine Excerpt (PDF): Selective Disobedience

Anne and Scott Warner share their stories as seasonal park rangers who began mid-life careers with the National Park Service. They've worked from Maine to Nevada and Louisiana to Texas, exploring our national parks in depth as seasonal rangers and eventually putting down roots at Acadia National Park in Maine.

SoundCloud Interview: Seasonal Rangers

In the 1980s Meg Weesner was among a pioneer generation of women to move into Natural Resources Management in the National Park Service. During her career she discovered that collaboration with partners was the best way to preserve and protect valuable resources.

SoundCloud Interview: Community and Natural Resources

A Sense of Place
Stories of Stewardship from the National Park Service
Episode 1

The Helpers

Butch Farabee & JD Swed

Episode 2

The Changing Face of Conservation

Dick Martin

Episode 3

A Park as Home

Laurel Boyers

Episode 4

The Hidden History of Park Publications

Ed Zahniser

Episode 5


Nancy Haack

Episode 6

The Urban Parks Mission

Ed Rizzotto

Episode 7

The Evolution of Interpretation in the NPS

Rebecca Lacome

Episode 8

The NPS Reckons with Representation

Kevin Cheri

Further excerpts from Oral History Interviews

Barry Sullivan:
No one really knew what was going to happen (PDF)

Ben Jacobs:
We rebuilt that relationship (PDF)

Bill Halainen:
People wear the uniform every work day (PDF)

Deanne Adams:
It's hard not to be inspired (PDF)

Dennis Burnett/Ginny Rousseau:
How can we make it work? (PDF)

Ernie Quintana:
An Interview With Ernie Quintana (PDF)

Jan Kirwan:
I had to earn my way (PDF)

Pat Reed:
If you want to be a superintendent (PDF)

Rebecca Harriett:
I've always had a plan (PDF)

Rick Mossman:
100 percent ranger (PDF)