It’s kind of hard to ignore the fact that JMU is located in one of the most beautiful regions of the country: the Shenandoah Valley. We glimpse the mountains as we drive to campus, and Carrier and Rose Libraries have incredible views of the trees and hills that make up this gorgeous region.
In the Oral Histories section of our department, we have the Shenandoah National Park Collection which is a series of interviews with more than 130 individuals who grew up in the Valley before the Park was approved in 1926 by Congress. By the time the Park opened in 1935, more than 450 families had been relocated from Park boundaries, and these interviews are recollections of life before and after the move.
What makes these interviews so interesting for me in particular is that I am currently studying Southern literature and there are many connections between these oral histories and the themes, characters, and events you read about in a Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor story.