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Oral History
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History of Oral History Project
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In 1997, the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation established an oral history project with the goal of gathering information on the history of the Fredericksburg preservation movement. The early days for the fledgling group were almost as memorable as the buildings and the ambience the organization was founded to protect. Many had first hand stories to tell of the uphill struggles marked by people like Lillian Reed on a ladder in her hat repairing a house or Frances Hewetson in her reasoned manner arguing the case for zoning. From white gloves to iron fist - the organization had seen some of everything.

From this beginning, the oral historians came to a quick realization that there was more to capture than the preservationists’ struggles, and the Oral History Project broadened to gather the story of the town and area as it had been witnessed in wars, Depression, desegregation and change - change of all sorts.

To date, 2006, the Oral History Project has produced more than 100 oral histories although in several cases a volume may include the remembrances of both husband and wife or in two cases, the stories were told by two sisters. In some instances, interviews have been withheld at the request of the subjects. Several of the earlier oral histories were supplied by Ruth Coder Fitzgerald and were interviews for her book, A Different Story. Mrs. Fitzgerald was one of the founders of the oral history project.

In the 2006 season, the project has, in part, focused on a fast disappearing story: rural life in Stafford County. There are six interviews about farms and several pages of pictures of rural Stafford including photographs of Sherwood Forest.

Dr. Howard E. Gregory, Penny Parrish, interviewer
Doris Webster Hickman, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Eleanor Duggan Mitchell, Sara Irby, interviewer
Urla Baker Row, Pat Weinhardt, interviewer
Anne Wilson Rowe, Jane Rasmussen, interviewer
Diana Mary Tansill, Elizabeth Daly, interviewer

Gary S. Cooke, Nancy Bruns & Sue Willis, interviewers
Herman S. Groves, Diane Hoffman, interviewer
F. Byrd Holloway, Sue Willis, interviewer
Christine Wray Hopkins, Diane Hoffman, interviewer
Wardell Leacock, Tomi Reneau, interviewer
Virginia Fines Sullivan, Nancy Bruns & Sue Willis, interviewers
D.P. Newton, Nancy Bruns, interviewer

Gaye Adegbalola
, Sue Willis, interviewer
Richard and Polly Beck, Nancy Bruns, interviewer 
Herbert Ridgeway Collins, Penny Parrish, interviewer
Elinor Dickinson, Nancy Bruns, interviewer 
Mary Lou Greenlaw, Jane Rasmussen, interviewer
Elizabeth Toombs Keckler, Sara Irby, interviewer
Kathryn Massey, Barb Davidson, interviewer
Rose Stefaniga Mergenthal, Nancy Bruns,interviewer
Winifred Lantz Parrish, Judy Bellafaire, interviewer
Marion Crawford Thorburn, Pat Thorburn, interviewer
John Anthony White, Dan Finnegan and Beth Daly, interviewers 
Barbara Pratt Willis, Barb Davidson, interviewer

Alvin York Bandy
, Beth Daly, interviewer
Anne Brooks Brauer, Tomi Reneau, interviewer
Dr. H. Stewart Jones, John Laffman, interviewer 
Virgie Gallahan Miller, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Tomi Reneau, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Sylvester Silver, Sue Willis, interviewer
T.C. Waddy, Jr., Penny Parrish, interviewer

John Darling
, Dan Finnegan, interviewer
Eva Virginia Tyson Decatur, Beth Daly, interviewer
Virginia Ann Freeman, Minette Cranford, interviewer
Julia “Bootsie” Ballard Gravatt, Dana Herlong, interviewer
Charlotte Leith, Lu Anderson, interviewer
O’Neal Mercer, Penny Parrish, interviewer
Eddie Payne, Sue Willis, interviewer
Beverley Moore Payton, Tomi Reneau, interviewer
Vera Bazzanella Way, Nancy Bruns, interviewer

Davis Cooper
, Helen Ross, interviewer
The Rev. Ted and Toni Cunningham, Tomi Reneau, interviewer
Jinxie Forbush, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Warren Forbush, Tomi Reneau, interviewer
Lana Brooke Snead, Judith Lamasure, interviewer
Carlton Onderdunk, Tom Lyons, interviewer
Frances Buckley Pratt, Jane Kosa, interviewer
Dr. David William Scott, Jr., Sue Willis, interviewer
Judge J.M.H. Willis, Jr., Carolyn Carpenter, interviewer

Frances Armstrong, Tomi Reneau, interviewer
Corinth Coleman Butler, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Dr. Elizabeth Carmichael, Sue Willis, interviewer
Martha Jones Derieux, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Elsie Goodloe Perry, Jane Kosa, interviewer
Mack Janney, Russ Roberts, interviewer
Lucy P. Welsh, Helen Ross, interviewer
Hattie Wheeler, Tomi Reneau, interviewer

Dr. Clayton Blum, Sue Willis, interviewer
Cassie Butzner, Helen Ross, interviewer
Mary Faulkner, Tomi Reneau, interviewer
Marian Ferguson, Jane Kosa, interviewer
DuVal Hicks, Sue Willis, interviewer
Charles S. Rowe, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Violette Van Valzah, Tomi Reneau, interviewer
The Howison Sisters: Mary Howison and Nan Stephens, Ruth Coder Fitzgerald, interviewer addition with Dr. Graham Stephens and Sandi Stephens by Nancy Bruns and Tomi Reneau

Waldo Beck, Ruth Coder Fitzgerald, interviewer
Maitland W. Chewning, Ruth Ellen Richardson, interviewer
Freeman Funk, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Mary Frances Funk, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
John Goolrick, Jane Kosa, interviewer
Barbara Hicks Geslock, Ruth Ellen Richardson, interviewer
Nick Lopomo, Sue Willis, interviewer
Miriam Nordin Miller, Debbie Klein, interviewer
Dr. Carter Rowe, Mark Jenkins, interviewer
Emmet Snead, Sue Willis, interviewer
Violette Mills Stoner, Thomasine Kreidler and Nancy Bruns, interviewers

Susie Atkinson, Leigh Ann Van Doren, interviewer
Alis Bailey, Jo Holland, interviewer
Elizabeth Embrey Cowan, Margareta Williamson, interviewer
DuVal Dickinson, Marie Stella, interviewer
Virginia Durrett, Bonnie Garber, interviewer 
Katherine Conway Haymes, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Frances Chambers Hewetson, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Warren Farmer, Mark C. Jenkins, interviewer
Jack Johnson, Tony Reichert, interviewer
Lee Roy Lewis, Mary Preston, interviewer
Reginald Lucas, Ruth Coder Fitzgerald, interviewer
Agnes McGee, Ruth Ellen Richardson, interviewer
Blanche Moran, Jane Kosa, interviewer

Dr. Lloyd Moss, Mary Connolly, interviewer
C.J. “Cotchy” Pappandreou, Sommer Browning, interviewer
George Rawlings, Jr., Bill Chewning, interviewer
Warner Sprow, Mary Preston, interviewer
Maurice Tate, Mary Preston, interviewer
Wheeler Thompson, Kathleen Macmanus, interviewer
Julia Tyler, Sherry Rong, interviewer
The Janney Sisters: Charlotte Norris and Edith Walsh, Ruth Ellen Richardson, interviewer

Dr. Edward Alvey, Jr., Ruth Coder Fitzgerald, interviewer
W. Sidney Armstrong, Sue Willis, interviewer 
Esther Chester, Melissa Fitzgerald, interviewer
Richard Dandridge, Melissa Fitzgerald, interviewer
Kate Gray, Eleanore Spears, interviewer, later interviewed by Mary Preston
Ralph Happel, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Lem Houston, Mark Jenkins, interviewer
Mary Howard Houston, Mark Jenkins, interviewer
Johnny P. Johnson, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Anne Reamy Low, Karen Luisi and Pina Swift, interviewers, with later addition by Sue Willis
Lillian Reed, Kathleen Macmanus, interviewer
Enos Richardson, Melissa Fitzgerald, interviewer
Anne Wilson Rowe, Debra Nidel, interviewer
Carl and Margaret Sponseller, Nancy Bruns, interviewer
Gladys Poles Todd, Mary Preston and Nancy Bruns, interviewers
Marian Reed Watts, Tim Duffy, interviewer
Phoebe Enders Willis, Sue Willis, interviewer

Transcribers were and are Jody Ballow, Betsy Glassie, Andi Grimsley, Suzanne Grubb, Jill Huber, Doris Webster Hickman, Karen Luisi, Mary Preston, Rebecca Purdy, Paula Raudenbush, Tomi Reneau, Ruth Ellen Richardson, Sandy Pearce, Ann Scott, Mike Vander Berg. In addition, many interviewers transcribe their own interviews. Photographers are and were Tomi Reneau, Barry Fitzgerald, Sue Connors, Beth Daly, and Sherry Rong. The Free Lance-Star has been generous in donating photographs.
Ruth Coder Fitzgerald indexed three years of the interviews and Betsy Glassie produced the 1998 exhibit for the library. Chairmen have included Marti Leicester, Candace Ransome, Leigh Ann Van Doren, Nancy Bruns, Mark Jenkins, Ruth Ellen Richardson, Tomi Reneau and Beth Daly. Tomi Reneau assisted in 2005-06 with graphics from her home in Tampa, FL. 
Bound copies of the interviews are available at the Virginiana Room, Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

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the character of Fredericksburg
Copyright 2005, Historic Fredericksburg Foundation
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