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Virginia wildland firefighters oral histories

Identifier: SdArch 32

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The interviews focus on wildland fire fighting and the US Forest Service experiences from 1940 through 2005. Topics addressed in the interviews include memories of fire towers, early communications, tools, clothing, transportation, family life, fire-fighting techniques and stories.


  • 2006

Access Restrictions

Access to oral histories is governed by agreements with the narrators. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

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 (

Bio/Historical Note

Carol DeHart is a freelance writer and independent scholar from Fulks Run, Virginia. Carol DeHart wasa Fire Instructor and Emergency Medical Technician, and is a charter (1987) member of the Bergton Volunteer Fire Department, and former squad boss and fire line EMT with the US Forest Service. Between 2001-2006, she conducted three grants from James Madison University Library to record and transcribe nine oral history interviews, including the Fading Rural Lifeways in the Bergton/Criders area of Rockingham County Oral History Project (SdArch 26) and the John Stewart Oral History (SdArch 25). In 2010, she completed an interview with Broadway Firefighter (SdArch 39).

Gerald Fawley was the first USFS employee to staff the High Knob Fire Tower on Shenandoah Mountain. He currently resides in Parnassus, Virginia. Wade Rogers is a retired USFS Fire Manager Officer from Spring Creek, Virginia. John Coleman is a retired USFS District Ranger from Edinburg, Virginia. Kenny May is a retired USFS Timer Specialist and Fire Fighter from Bergton, Vriginia. Terry Slater, who assisted DeHart in the interview with Fawley, is a USFS Wildlife Biologist and Incident Commander from Bridgewater, Virginia.


0.05 cubic feet (10 audiocassettes)

Language of Materials



The Virginia Wildland Firefighters Oral Histories, 2006, is comprised of three sound recordings of interviews with US Forest Service Fire Fighters on their experiences fighting fires in the mountain region of Virginia, from 1940-2005. The collection includes transcripts, photographs, and other supplemental documents.


The interviews are arranged chronologically, by the date of the interview.


  • Gingrich, Tyler and Caroline Whitlow. “High Knob Fire Tower.” Friends of Shenandoah Mountain: Exploring Shenandoah Mountain’s History. Accessed July 24, 2018.

Processing Information

In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 0029

Audiocassettes were converted to mp3 and wav files by Kirsten Mlodynia of Carrier Library Innovation Services, in July 2018.


A Guide to the Virginia Wildland Firefighters Oral Histories, 2006
JMU Cataloging
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

880 Madison Drive
MSC 1704
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612