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Americorps Preserves Voices From Past

Retired Trout Lake resident chronicles forest service history

Since retiring from the Forest Service last fall, Imogene "Jeannie" Marshall has spent hundreds of hours listening to voices from the agency's past. She is busy capturing those voices for the benefit of future generations.

Shortly after retiring from the Forest Service, in Missoula, Mont., Marshall returned to her hometown of Trout Lake. She soon began a volunteer project to preserve the oral histories of former Forest Service personnel.

"When I came back here, " Marshall said, "I had been gone a long time, and I felt that I wanted to give something back to my community."

AmeriCorps' Northwest Service Academy, also located in Trout Lake, provided a unique opportunity for Marshall to perform local volunteer community service and earn a tuition award.

Marshall's community service is to the Heritage Program, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, based at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station in Trout Lake.

Over the years, many oral history interviews had been conducted with former employees -- old-time rangers, firefighters, lookouts, engineers, and other staff -- but few of the taped interviews had been transcribed. Putting the interviews into print and electronic format ensures their longevity and accessibility to the public.

"AmeriCorps staff provide service to community, and I see this project as a wonderful service to the community -- to preserve this history and make it available to people," said Marshall.

The oral history collection now includes 66 interviews with people whose work with the Forest Service spanned the period from 1922 through the 1950s. The collection also includes interviews with Civilian Conservation Corps members who were stationed at camps on the national forest during the 1930s, including Marshall's father, who served with the CCC in 1934 and 1935. Fifty-six of the oral history interviews have now been transcribed.

As part of this effort students, in a special program through the History Department, at Portland State University did some of the transcription.

Some of the oral history interviews are now available online through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest website.

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