U.S. Forest Service Oral History Project

Welcome to the U.S. Forest Service Region 8 Oral History Project, a project in commemoration of the Weeks Act Centennial in 2011. This collection includes 22 digital audio recorded interviews, transcripts, and student projects highlighting the careers of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Southern Region employees. As part of the ongoing celebration of the Weeks Act, the Southern Region (Region 8) and USFS Enterprise Program Heritage Service Line in partnership with Auburn University collected oral histories from former and retired USFS employees. These 22 individuals discussed their experiences working with the agency, and (for some) their experiences working directly with the Weeks Act and related land-acquisition legislation. Together these interviews examine facets of the rich history of the southern forests.

Students in Professor Aaron Shapiro’s Introduction to Public History class at Auburn University conducted 12 interviews with Southern Region employees in Autumn 2012. Forest Service personnel conducted the other 10 interviews over the last two decades and these were transcribed as part of this project. Full audio recordings and transcripts of the 22 interviews are available on the “Interviews” page. The 12 interviews conducted by Shapiro’s class include field notes and group projects completed as part of the public history course. The student group projects include blogs, podcasts, and a short film and are available on the “Resources” page. Auburn public history graduate student Angelia Riveira produced the five content pages that synthesize issues described by the 12 interviewees and feature short audio clips. Topics include the 1911 Weeks Act, evolving technology, social change, public perceptions, and family life within the Forest Service.

Many research interests can be explored within the interviews beyond the five highlighted in the content pages. The 22 interviews cover topics such as legislation, land use policies, fire management, intra-agency relationships, environmentalism, agricultural and silvicultural practices, and much more. We encourage you to explore the interviews and learn more about these interesting people and their Forest Service experiences.