Oral Histories of Volunteer Firefighters

"Oral Histories of Volunteer Firefighters from East County Line, Gladstone and Parkside Fire Departments"

Oral histories of Firefighters serving in the first volunteer Maplewood fire departments.  

Interviews conducted by Oral Historian Kate Cavett and Bob Jensen, President, Maplewood Area Historical Society for the Maplewood Area Historical Society at HAND in HAND’s office in Saint Paul, MN.


Oral History is the spoken word in print. 

Oral histories are personal memories shared from the perspective of the narrator. By means of recorded interviews oral history documents collect spoken memories and personal commentaries of historical significance. These interviews are transcribed verbatim and minimally edited for accessibility. Greatest appreciation is gained when one can listen to an oral history aloud. 

Oral histories do not follow the standard language usage of the written word. Transcribed interviews are not edited to meet traditional writing standards; they are edited only for clarity and understanding. The hope of oral history is to capture the flavor of the narrator’s speech and convey the narrator’s feelings through the timbre and tempo of speech patterns. 

An oral history is more than a family tree with names of ancestors and their birth and death dates. Oral history is recorded personal memory, and that is its value. What it offers complements other forms of historical text, and does not always require historical corroboration. Oral history recognizes that memories often become polished as they sift through time, taking on new meanings and potentially reshaping the events they relate. 

Memories shared in an oral histories create a picture of the narrator’s life – the culture, food, eccentricities, opinions, thoughts, idiosyncrasies, joys, sorrows, passions - the rich substance that gives color and texture to this individual life. 

Kate Cavett Oral Historian
HAND in HAND Productions
Saint Paul, Minnesota