Until a time machine is invented, oral histories are as close as we can come to experiencing the past firsthand. History books can give you statistics and other facts, but they lack the perspective and personal involvement you will find in oral histories. For decades now, several organizations have made it part of their missions to talk to people whose lives have encompassed so much of our region's history. From childhood memories to coming of age in times of change, oral histories allow us to hear the past through the voices of those who have experienced it.
Recently, the Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR), in partnership with the University of Mary Washington's Department of History and American Studies, began to preserve stories about local people and their relationships to the Rappahannock River. They are available online at Life Along the Rappahannock.
Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc.'s (HFFI), The Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation's (SPFI), and Stafford County's oral history collections are available to read in Central Rappahannock Regional Library's Virginiana Room:
Use these links to check the library's catalog for lists of printed interviews:
Pieces of Our Past (HFFI)
The interviews listed below are available online (downloadable PDFs).
W. Hansford Abel
This interview with W. Hansford Abel was conducted on August 8, 1986, by Pearle E. Young. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
Sheila Eddy Baker
This interview with Sheila Eddy Baker was conducted by Nancy Bruns in November 2008 and focuses on the time Mrs. Baker spent serving as a legislative aide to former State Senator John H. Chichester.
Mary Jane Culley Boxley
This interview with Mary Jane Culley Boxley was conducted on November 26, 1986, by Lou Y. Silver. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
Ida Deacon Brooks
This interview with Ida Deacon Brooks was conducted on April 5, 1986, by Margaret Mock. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
Eugene Buck Brumley
This interview with Eugene Buck Brumley was conducted on July 31, 2000, by Christine Walsh. This interview is a project of the Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation.
This interview with Gordon Byram was conducted on January 3, 1987, by A. R. MacGregor, III. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
James Thomas Chinn
This interview with James Thomas Chinn was conducted on April 13, 1986, by Lou Y. Silver. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
A surveyor by profession, Gary Cooke, son of Virginia Fines Sullivan of White Oak, has devoted much of his adult life to researching his Indian background. Gary grew up in the White Oak area of Stafford County, which is the recognized home of many of the local families who claim descent from the Patawomeck Indians.
Ted and Toni Cunningham
Reverend Theodore Cunningham, retired pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, New Site, and Toni Cunningham.
Dr. Altamont Dickerson
This interview with Dr. Altamont Dickerson was conducted on November 30, 2000, by Christine Walsh and Merl Witt. This interview is a project of the Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation.
Milton A. Dickerson
This interview with Milton A. Dickerson was conducted on July 29, 1986, by A. R. MacGregor, III. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
R. DuVal Dickinson
In 1970, Mr. Dickinson and his wife, Anne, moved the farm equipment business into a remodeled dairy barn where they still operate the business today.
Mr. Farmer discusses the 1918 influenza epidemic, life in Fredericksburg, his work at The Free Lance-Star, and more.
This interview with John Fitzhugh was conducted on April 12, 1986, by Eillen Charters. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
Freeman Funk was City of Fredericksburg city manager for 23 years - from 1955 until 1978 - and later served five years on Ccity Council, retiring in 1998. After leaving public service in 1978, Mr. Funk was a consulting engineer. His first wife, Frances Gill Funk, is deceased. Mr. Funk and his wife, Mary Frances Blackburn Moore Funk, live on Franklin Street in a house that Mr. Funk built in its entirety.
T. Benton Gayle
This interview with T. Benton Gayle was conducted on November 6, 1986, by Margaret Mock. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
George L. Gordon, Jr.
This interview with George L. Gordon, Jr. was conducted on November 11, 1986, by Molly Pynn. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Hilldrup
This interview with Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Hilldrup was conducted on April 2, 2000, by Christine Walsh. This interview is a project of the Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation.
Herman Groves and Christine Wray Hopkins
Brother and sister, Herman Groves and Christine Wray Hopkins, talk about the Sylvania Plant during the Depression and afterward.
F. Byrd Holloway
Mr. Holloway begins his history with rich stories of life in a doctor’s household in the days before World War II. The first interview is held at Flintshire Farm overlooking the Rappahannock River. Flintshire Farm - where Byrd once ran a tennis club - is part of the original land grant to Mr. Holloway’s ancestors.
James M. Jackson
This interview with James M. Jackson was conducted on August 19, 1986, by Margaret Mock. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
Johnny P. Johnson
This is an oral history interview with Johnny P. Johnson, Fredericksburg artist, teacher, civil rights activist, on July 1 and August 14, 1997, at his art studio at 1311 Charles St., Fredericksburg. This interview was suggested, in part, by Mr. Johnson's personal and yet objective picture of the civil rights movement in Fredericksburg as related during a 1997 Black History Month program.
Alaric R. MacGregor, Sr.
This interview with Alaric R. MacGregor, Sr. was conducted in October 1986, by Molly Pynn. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
Miss Agnes McGee actively participated in the growth of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County by serving on several boards and she grew up on a dairy farm in the area which she helped to work.
Louise Scott Moncure
This interview with Louise Scott Moncure was conducted on April 30, 1986, by Charlotte B. Butler. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
Blanche Moran is a woman who worked in the Fredericksburg area in the 30’s and 40’s. She lived here for many years from before the Great Depression until the interview in 1998; during that time she had experienced a wide variety of things here. If history is truly the everyday life of average people, Mrs. Moran is a great representation of that history for this area.
This interview with Archie Newton was conducted on November 16, 1986, by Lou Y. Silver. This interview is part of the Stafford County Oral History Project.
D. P. Newton
D. P. Newton of White Oak, son of Elizabeth Sullivan Newton and the late Patrick Newton, was told by his parents’ generation to save everything that he could and then he would have a comfortable old age. He did that, he said, then about 12 years ago he took his savings and put it into founding and establishing the White Oak Civil War Museum and Stafford Research Center.
Mr. Carlton Onderdonk
Carlton Onderdonk was a Scoutmaster in the Fredericksburg area.
Mrs. Frances Robinson Buckley Pratt
Mrs. Frances Robinson Buckley Pratt lived in the Fredericksburg area for most of a century. She has witnessed many changes in the area including the beginning of Fort A. P. Hill and the Great Flood. She has an interesting story to tell and a lot of geographic information about how the town began and what grew where. She met a few celebrities along the way too, including the famous artist Salvador Dali and his wife. Her memory is very good and from it we get a vivid picture of Fredericksburg through the years.
Tomi Lewis Reneau
Long-time HFFI member, Tomi Lewis Reneau, a Fredericksburg native well known for her knowledge of local history, her skill in photography and graphic arts, for her genealogical research, and as a book collector.
Urla Baker Row
This interview was conducted at the home of Urla Row on Jackson Trail West in the summer and fall of 2008 by Patricia Weinhardt who has been her friend for some years.
Anne Wilson Rowe
Interviewed 10 years ago in the first year of the Oral History project, Anne Wilson Rowe was a Fredericksburg native and well-known civic leader. Committee members had always planned to revisit some of the early participants to update and expand their observations, and Mrs. Rowe was asked to be the first in the revisiting series. Debra Nidel did the 1997 interview, and Jane Rasmussen is the February 5, 2008, interviewer.
Hallie Rowley Sale
This interview with Hallie Rowley Sale was conducted on August 11, 2003, by Christine Walsh. This interview is a project of the Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation.
Dr. D. William Scott
Dr. David William Scott, Jr., is a native of the Fredericksburg area who was 91 at the time of this interview in 2003. He shares with us his vast knowledge of the changing landscape of the area as well as changes in the medical field since he received his degree over 50 years ago. Dr. Scott also served in WWII and shares with us here some of his experiences dealing with leprosy among other things. He was one of the first doctors using penicillin and so many other drugs that are so common today.
Warner Sprow, child prodigy and longtime community barber.
Janet Marie Sullivan
This interview with Janet Marie Sullivan was conducted by Suzanne Willis in October 2008. She tells of growing up in Fredericksburg in the 1940s surrounded by her extended family. She became a nurse at Mary Washington Hospital, Riverside Nursing Home, and Pratt Medical Center. She also tells about the beginnings of Historic Fredericksburg Foundation's Candlelight Tours.
Virginia Fines Sullivan
Virginia Fines Sullivan of Belle Plains Road, White Oak, was born July 10, 1926, daughter of Leonard L. Fines, born 1892 in Stafford County, and Virginia Ann Newton, born 1903. Mr. Fines was the son of Elijah L. Fines and Sarah C. DeShazo. Virginia Newton Fines was the daughter of Willie Tobias Newton and Birdie Newton.
This interview with Milton Terrell was conducted on January 10, 2000, by Christine Walsh. This interview is a project of the Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation.
Robert & Betty Turnley
This interview with Robert & Betty Turnley was conducted on November 29,, 2000, by Christine Walsh. This interview is a project of the Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation.
Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler Thompson
Funeral Director Wheeler Terrell Thompson was born in Fredericksburg on Oct. 6, 1905. He married Margaret French Kirkpatrick Thompson on July 16, 1932, and the couple has four children, Elizabeth Jane, Margaret Anne, John Kirkpatrick Thompson and Wyatt Wheeler Thompson.
This interview with Agnes Whitlock was conducted on September 24, 2000, by Christine Walsh. This interview is a project of the Spotsylvania Preservation Foundation.