The Fort Worden Oral History Program began as a part of the Fort’s centennial celebration in 2002 as a project of the Friends of Fort Worden, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the visitors’ experience. It was organized by Laurie Medlicott, former member of the Port Townsend City Council, with help from several volunteers. Fort Worden partnered with the Library of Congress American Folklife Center’s Veterans History Project, which is building a nationwide database of information about people who have served in America’s wars. When the centennial ended, the corps of volunteers kept the program alive.
In 2003, Patience Rogge took over running the program. Its objective is to collect oral histories to be taped, transcribed, archived, and made available for students, genealogists, writers, and historians. The entire collection tells of the real life experiences of those who served at Fort Worden during the military era; who worked or lived here during the Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center days; or have visited, participated in activities, or worked at the fort since it became a state park conference center. A volunteer undertook the huge task of archiving the interviews and photos, manuscripts and other memorabilia that people donated using the State Parks’ Past Perfect program. A retired secretary offered to transcribe all the military interviews, which at that time numbered about 80. In 2007, another volunteer offered to transcribe, catalog and index the entire collection. We have mailed out hundreds of information packets, scheduled scores of interviews, and collected more than 300 oral histories. In addition to in-person interviews, we conduct telephone interviews, so people all over the world are within our reach.
In 2007, the program issued its first publication “Conversations With the 369th”, a catalog of interviews with members of the U.S. Army 369th Engineer Amphibious Support Regiment who served at Fort Worden during the Korean War era. Their stories are especially interesting, since many of the soldiers participated in the building of the US airbase at Thule, Greenland while others were sent to Camp Desert Rock, NV to take part in early atomic tests or to Rochefort, France as part of a NATO exercise.
This blog is an on-going, ever growing collection of excerpts from the collection. We search for interesting, amusing, and informative “snippets” in the interview transcripts to share with the public. Complete transcripts and CDs of the interviews are available at a nominal cost to cover duplicating and mailing.
Please send your inquiries to:
Fort Worden History Center
200 Battery Way
Port Townsend, WA 98368