The Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection, SdArch SNP, (formerly SC# 4030), 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 US government in the 1930s. The collection is comprised of 6 Hollinger boxes and 2 1/5 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.
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, and residents' feelings towards the creation of the Shenandoah National Park.
For more information on the Shenandoah National Park Oral History Collection, consult the Finding Aid.
Cletus Waters interviewed by Dorothy Noble Smith, transcribed by Sharon G. Marston, updated by Mark S. Purington (SNP128)
Records an interview with Cletus Waters, whose father owned a general store in the vicinity of Rocky Branch until 1928. Describes his father's business and his interaction with local mountain families. Mr. Waters' wife, Hazel, who is unnamed in the transcript, contributes to the interview.
Delmar F. Weaver
Records an interview with Dr. Delmar Weaver, who served the mountain families near Madison and Stanardsville, Virginia, in the early 1930s. Describes the more common ailments and injuries associated with the mountain people, such as pneumonia, rickets and diphtheria, as well as less common diseases such as polio and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Recalls the great lengths to which he and other local doctors went to reach and treat their patients, often for very little pay. Doctor Weaver describes some of the eight murder victims he encountered during the two and a half years he practiced in the region.
Henry F. Wilberger
Records an interview with Frank Wilberger, whose family ran an undertaking business in Augusta County in the early part of the 20th century. Describes the practice of undertaking in those years, and the special conditions encountered when working with local mountain families, whose homes were often located in remote and marginally accessible areas.
Effie G. Williams
Records an interview with Effie Williams, (née Sours), who explains that the Shenandoah National Park headquarters building in Luray, Virginia, is located on the site of her childhood home. Mrs. Williams' father and grandfather ran a small farm and tannery on the site, not far from Pass Run.
Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Wood interviewed by Dorothy Noble Smith, transcribed by Peggy C. Bradley (SNP132)
Gordon A. Wood
Records an interview with Gordon and Lillie Wood, who lived in Beldor, Virginia, deep within the Blue Ridge Mountains. Describes daily life and farm chores, folk medicine, holidays and funerals.
Lola S. Wood
Records an interview with Lola Woods, whose family lived in Harmony Hollow, in Warren County, Virginia, near Front Royal. Describes the derivation of many mountain place names and the origins of many of the founding families in the area. Discusses the importance of agriculture to the region and recalls the cattle and turkey drives that would move through the streets of Front Royal.
For access to this interview, please contact JMU Special Collections (email@example.com, or (540) 568-3612). Please reference the interview number SNP 133 when submitting your request.
Mr. and Mrs. Luther Wood interviewed by Dorothy Noble Smith, transcribed by Peggy C. Bradley (SNP134)
Luther W. Wood
Records an interview with Luther and Myra Wood, (née Sandice), who lived in Afton, Virginia. Describes daily life in the mountains, touching on the work of growing and preserving food, herbal remedies, courtship and holidays.
Records an interview with Ray Wood, who grew up on Pasture Fence Mountain in Albemarle County, Va. Describes his boyhood days living in the mountains with his grandfather, Joseph T. Harris, who tended cattle and ran his own small farm. Recalls the daily chores and the cycle of work on the farm, especially the effort that went into harvesting and preserving the crops and meat. Mr. Wood discusses his extended family and the families who lived nearby his grandfather's homestead.
Myrtle Woodward interviewed by Dorothy Noble Smith, transcribed by Mara Meisel, Rebecca Popp and Heather Browne (SNP136)
Myrtle B. Woodward
Records an interview with Myrtle Woodward, (née Broyles), who lived in the mountains near Syria, Virginia. Describes daily life in the mountains, touching on the work of growing and preserving food, herbal remedies and holidays. Also recalls her experiences with local entrepreneur George Freeman Pollock, owner of nearby Skyland resort, who was a major influence in the establishment of Shenandoah National Park.
Dennis Yager, Nelson Jenkins and Wesley Gray interviewed by Dorothy Noble Smith (SNP 137) - RESTRICTED
Records a music session featuring Dennis Yager, Nelson Jenkins and Wesley Gray, who perform a number of old-time songs, many of which were popular tunes with the mountain people. Featured instruments include guitar, banjo, Dobro and fiddle. Dennis Yager also participated in an interview with his mother, Mattie Yager, who played several mountain tunes on her autoharp. See SdArch no. SNP-138.
For access to this interview, please contact JMU Special Collections (firstname.lastname@example.org, or (540) 568-3612). Please reference the interview number SNP-137 when submitting your request.
Mattie B. Yager
Records an interview with Mattie Yager, whose family lived near Old Rag Mountain in Madison County, Virginia. Describes daily life in the mountains, touching on the work of growing and preserving food, herbal remedies, courtship and holidays. Mrs. Woodward plays several old-time mountain tunes on her autoharp during the interview. Her son, Dennis Yager joins in at the end of the conversation. Dennis Yager and two other musicians give an impromptu concert of mountain music in SdArch no. SNP-137.
Darrell Yarrow and John P. Lillard: interviewed by Dorothy Noble Smith, transcribed by Sharon G. Marston (SNP139)
Records an interview with Darrell Yarrow and John Lillard, who were residents of Etlan, Virginia in the early 1930s. Both men give their recollections of the mountain people, their lifestyles and their characters.