Oral Histories

Each person's voice is a valuable part of Grinnell's history.

Welcome to our wide range of oral history projects.

These collections vary widely in scope. Some are from as early as 1979, and some are still in progress. Some are short interviews done by students, like the Camp Fire Girls Project or the Intergenerational Project. Others are more extensive, like our 1992 gem, the Voices from the Past Project. Available documents may include PDFs, MP3s, YouTube videos, links to transcribed recordings of interviews in Digital Grinnell, and photos. 

Below, you can explore our collection by project or by person: 

  • To explore by project, click on the name of a project to access a short description of it and a link to its individual project page. Each project page includes all those people involved and links to access their interview materials. 
  • To explore by person, you can see all individuals listed alphabetically with any photos and links to project page(s). 

For help on viewing and downloading PDFs and MP3s in different browsers, visit the Downloading Documents page.

Happy exploring!

Featured Voices

Explore by Project

February 1979 interviews of Grinnell senior citizens conducted by the clubs of the Camp Fire Girls

Our oral history treasure: twenty interviews of Grinnell residents on the Great Depression and World War II 

Spring 1993 interviews by Grinnell College students for an American Studies course

2006 interviews of fifteen Mayflower residents by Grinnell College students during an alternative spring break 

Video interviews with World War II veterans that were included with the book Our War: Stories from Poweshiek County’s Greatest Generation

Other oral histories collected as part of our ongoing Poweshiek History Preservation Project

November 2013 interviews by Frank Heath of Iowa farmers who grew up in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s

2015 interviews done for the 25th anniversary of Imagine Grinnell about the organization and its impact

Short stories by Mrs. Barger’s creative writing class based on interviews with individuals from the Grinnell Senior Center

Miscellaneous oral histories, including those with Jackie Collum, Rev. Leland Mann, and Edith Renfrow Smith 

Explore by Person


Adams, Virgil

Man wearing a flannel shirt

Alden, Henry

Man in a suit and tie, smiling

Anderson, Bob

Man smiling in a suit with glasses

Anderson, Doris White

Armstrong, Everett

Man wearing a coat with "Everett" on it at a working bench with a saw in it

Arnold, Margaret

Woman looking at a framed newspaper on the wall with "Arnold's Shoes, Inc." in large text


Bartachek, Gene and John

Two men standing together, indoors

Beaty, Wilson

Man smiling

Beaver, Jean

Woman wearing glasses, smiling

Behrens, Russ

Man smiling, in a suit

Belcher, William

Group of men in military uniform, "William Belcher" signifying the man in the middle

Bell, Glenn

Young man wearing a suit, smiling

Benda, Ken

Man smiling, looking off-camera, in a suit

Berman, Isadore

Man sitting in a chair, with glasses

Bloethe, Orville

Man with glasses

Bowers, Richard "Dick"

Man smiling

Breiting, Gene

Man sitting in a chair, outside

Brown, Raymond

Man wearing glasses

Burkle, Howard

Man wearing glasses

Burrell, Loretta


Cameron, Doug

Man with glasses, smiling

Chavez Silva, Monica

Woman smiling

Christiansen, Ken

Young man in military uniform, straight-faced

Clark, Reginald

Man wearing glasses

Clausen, Ted

Man smiling with glasses

Cocking, Cheryl

Woman with glasses

Collum, Jackie

Baseball player on a baseball field

Cooper, Burton

Cramer, Katherine Kintzinger

Crooks, Hazel

Woman with a blanket behind her


Davis, Gary and Susan

Young boy, in black and white

DeMeulenaere, John

Man smiling, wearing glasses

Delong, Charles

Man smiling, inside, wearing a sweater

Delong, Kate

Black and white photo of a woman

Devilder, Margaret

Woman wearing glasses, smiling

Dimit, Robert

Man and woman wearing glasses, smiling

Donohoe, Donald

Man wearing glasses, smiling

Doyle, Bill

Man smiling

Dunham, Marian

Woman sitting with a book, looking out a window


Eisenman, Marie Walker

Woman with her hand on a chair, smiling

Ernst, Elizabeth "Betty" Hempstead

Woman smiling, with glasses

Ernst, George


Fields, Lola Clark

Flanagan, Leo "Slim"

Man reflected in a car's side-view mirror

Freeborn, Hazel

Woman with glasses

Fudge, Jim

Man wearing glasses, black and white


Gaard, Lamoyne

Man sitting in a chair, looking at a book, and a man sitting on the floor with a book

George, Jim

Drawing of a man wearing a suit with glasses

Gregory, Keith

Man wearing glasses, smiling

Grosenbach, Bubs

Woman wearing glasses, standing, smiling


Hammond, Betty

Woman smiling, wearing glasses

Harley, James

Man smiling, wearing glasses

Harris, Henry

Heinselman, Velma

Woman wearing glasses, smiling

Henriksen, Bruce

Hildebrand, Esther

Woman wearing glasses, grinning

Hinegardner, Jean

Woman outside at an orchard with an apron

Hiser, Velma

Woman and a boxer dog, sitting outside

Hoisington, Robert, Jr.

Black and white photo of a young man

Hyde, Veda


Jacobs, Mabel

Woman in a white shirt

Johnson, Sally

Woman wearing glasses, smiling

Johnston, Elsie

Woman holding a trumpet outside

Jones, Alan "Al"

Man in a suit and glasses, sitting

Jones, Ernest

Man wearing work clothes, black and white

Jones, Laverne Clyde

Man smiling

Jones, Virgil

Man sitting at a desk with many papers


Kasimow, Harold

Man wearing a suit, grinning

Keeney, Adelaide (Peggy)

Woman smiling, wearing glasses

Kelley, Irene

Woman wearing glasses

Klausner, Neal

Man laughing outside in front of a tree

Kovar, Stanley

Man wearing glasses, smiling, in a suit


Lannom, Dorothy

Woman sitting at a chair, inside, under a painting

Leggett, Glenn

Man wearing holding a cap, wearing a gown, smiling

Loftin, Grover

Man, black and white

Louden, Kathryn

Woman smiling in a blazer with glasses

Luebben, Ralph

Man smiling in a suit, black and white

Lynch, Mary Ellen

Woman smiling, wearing glasses


Mann, Rev. Leland

Man with glasses, black and white

Marcum, Harvey

McDonough, Howard

Man in glasses, smiling

McDowell, Arthur "Art"

Man sitting at a typewriter with glasses

McIlrath, Patricia

Woman wearing a cap and gown, smiling, with glasses

Merck, Gene and Ellen

Woman smiling, wearing glasses

Moffett, Alex

Man sitting in a chair, reading a book inside

Morrison, Lorene Alyce Pearce

Woman smiling

Moyer, Shirley

Woman wearing glasses


Ogata, Daniel "Dan"

Man in glasses wearing a suit, sitting on the ground

Otto, Eloise

Woman with glasses, smiling


Parish, John

Man sitting on a chair, smiling, with glasses

Peak, Geoff

Man wearing glasses, black and white

Pearce, Martin

Man in overalls standing outside in front of a tractor

Pederson, Augusta

Woman looking down at a quilt, working on it

Pederson, Don

Man in a checkered shirt, smiling

Peters, Bob

Man in a suit with glasses

Pfitsch, Emily

Woman with a graduation cap talking into a microphone at a podium

Pfitsch, John

Five male basketball players holding a man up on their shoulders, smiling

Phillips, Karen

Group of women, smiling, wearing long dresses, in front of a hanging quilt

Pierce, Joe

Man with glasses

Pinder, Al

Man in a military uniform, smiling

Pinder, Dorothy

Woman looking up at the camera, wearing glasses, smiling

Preston, Stanley "Stub"

Man sitting at a desk with a large swordfish above, on the wall


Rabenold, John

Young man smiling, black and white

Raffety, Howard

Man smiling, wearing glasses

Ramsey, Anna

Woman sitting on a chair, inside, in a skirt suit, smiling

Rasmussen, Russ

Man with glasses, sitting

Reavis, Lucille

Woman standing wearing a red shirt

Rempp, Bill and Marjorie

Man wearing glasses and a suit

Renfrow Smith, Edith

Woman wearing a graduation cap and gown, standing outside in front of a tree

Riley, Ronald

Man wearing glasses, smiling

Rixen, Walter

Man smiling with glass

Robinson, Idona

Rutherford, Vaneta


Schultz, Elizabeth

Woman smiling in a blazer with glasses

Sears, Richard "Dick"

Man standing, outside, by the sign "Dick Sears Auctioneer Grinnell IA"

Septer, Arnold

Man wearing a suit

Sisco, Dorothy Elliott

Woman wearing glasses and a colorful shirt, outside

Smith, Max

Man with glasses, smiling

Steele, J. R.

Black and white photo of a man in a suit

Steele Wheeler, Garnette

Black and white photo of a young girl

Stoakes, David

Man with glasses, smiling

Strawser, Cleo L.


Tinnes, Edna

Woman with glasses, smiling

Tomfeld, Madison

Black and white photo of a man standing by a plane


Van Dyke, Lucille Binegar

Woman smiling with her arms crossed

Van Gennep, Ronald

Van Nimwegen, Ina


Weaver, Don and Doris

Woman smiling, wearing glasses

Wellborn, Beryl

Man smiling in glasses and a suit

Wells, Hester Sparling

Wheeler, Frank

Man with glasses, smiling

Wieman, Laura

Woman sitting at a weaving loom, looking down

Willemsen, Everett

Man wearing a military hat, black and white, smiling


Youngbeck, Gerald H.

Man grinning, in a suit


Zimmerman, MJ

Woman wearing glasses sitting and smiling with a dog in her lap