Rick Moulton Logo

Oral History Program

Ski historian and filmmaker, Rick Moulton is directing a program under the auspices of the Snowsports Industries of America, The National Ski Area Association and the International Ski History Association.

(You read about in the ISHA’s Skiing Heritage Magazine.)

The generation that built the Ski Industry in North America is rapidly aging. Together with SIA, NSAA, and other players in the snowsport arena we are initiating an Oral History Program to record the first-hand knowledge, stories, impressions and opinions of key players of this generation that would otherwise be lost.

The advent of the web has changed the whole dynamic of accessibility. The filmed interviews will be transcribed, with the transcription available on-line through the ISHA website.

The collection will serve as a link between the near past and the present in a personal way that two or more, generations rarely share. By presenting the people and their stories the program will enrich the American historic record placing Ski sport heritage in context.

To date there has been a haphazard effort to conduct an Oral History from skiers and the “quality” of interviews shows substantial variation. Many well-intentioned interviews are brief “anecdotal conversations” which do not rise to the level of professional quality interview standards, which are complete, verifiable, and usable, (professional A/V, with transcription, and access). Of the two notable exceptions, the University of Utah oral history is audio only and limited to the Wasatch Mts. while the New England Ski Museum’s, (NESM), excellent work has very limited funding.

This program will follow the criteria established by Dr. E.J.B. Allen and NESM. Each interview will be researched and conducted in depth. They will be filmed with digital sound in HD. To reduce travel costs, industry events, (like the SIA Ski Show, NSAA convention), will be utilized to film several interviews in succession.

Names or topics will be searchable and viewable as film shorts at the ISHA site and via U tube links. The full interviews will serve as a valuable resource for writers, researchers, museums, and the general public seeking historical information.

Over the next few years ISHA hopes that a broad coalition of the winter sports community can effectively fund this effort. The continual passing of important personalities shows us that we cannot put off this program. ISHA together with Rick Moulton, David Ingemie and Michael Berry have developed a preliminary list of people to interview. Supporting organizations are encouraged to provide their list of people who should be included in this oral history project. After broadening our list of potential interviews, the project will prioritize them, conduct the most pressing interviews and make them available on the web. The interviews will continue through the list as funding permits.

“This project is dedicated to enhance the preservation of Skiing and Snow Boarding history by effectively conducting individual audio/video interviews with individuals whose life stories will add substantially to the winter sports history record.”

Objectives to pursue on an “as funded” basis:

A collaborative effort (involving ISHA, skiing history museums, and individuals with oral history experience), the objective of which is to:

We know that interviews have not been done on a substantial number of historical figures, many of whom are aging. We are also aware that the “quality” of interviews varies substantially and, in a number of cases, does not meet professional standards.

The interview reflects first-hand knowledge and captures impression and opinions of the interviewee in relation to his or her world. Since many people find talking easier than writing, an interview is a viable device to uncover unique aspects of individual, personal histories.

An interview can preserve a special heritage that would otherwise be lost to posterity. While an individual interview many be fragmentary, taken together with other interviews of people in the same field or time frame, an invaluable repository of detail and interrelationships is created. An interview can further redefine known history as well as to uncover bits of jargon, obscure stories, event details, personality quirks, and other valuable historic tidbits which may not be widely known or published.

Provide a window on the personal memories of ski pioneers.

Add a dimension to skiing history that is not found in books or in objects.

Serve as a link between the near past and the present in a personal way that two (or more) generations rarely share.

“Bring to life” historical moments to enrich the historical record. A professional quality audio/video history presents authentic, complete, verifiable, and usable information which is presented in an accurate historical context.

The “quality” of oral history interviews shows substantial variation. Many interviews are brief “anecdotal conversations” that do not rise to the level of professional quality interview packages (interview, transcript, and supporting materials) which are complete, verifiable, and usable.

Interviews with some individuals are outdated in that an individual’s contributions to the historical record have occurred since an interview was done.

Interviews are archived in many locations and may not be readily accessible to historians, researchers, writers, or the general public. Accessibility is critically important as an interview’s intrinsic value can be realized only if it can be easily located and is readily available, free of charge, to researchers, historians, writers, and the general public.

To develop and implement a web based archiving and access plan which substantially improved the value of oral histories.

Oral Histories Films to date:

Denny Hansen, Doug Phieffer, Andrea-Mead Lawrence, Christy Hill, John Fry Arthur Furrer, Roger Brown, Tom Corcoran, Brooks Dodge, Bob Parker, John Litchfield, Gretchen Besser, Dr. E J B Allen, Lowell Thomas Jr, Bill Hazlett, John Litchfield, Herb Schneider, Bob Parker, George Wesson, Dave Jacobs, Jake Jacobs, Ned Post, Daine Boyer, Klaus Obermeyer, Dick Leoffler, Carl Helmetag, Stuart Keiller, John Stahler, Cal Conniff and Phil Gravink

Rick Moulton has just completed the “Passion For Snow” film project for which he reviewed hundreds of Dartmouth College’s films and oversaw their digitization. Previously Rick directed a grant program that digitized the film collection of the National Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan. For the past 4 years, drawing in part from these films, Moulton has produced a annual production, “Honoring The Past For The Future” that showcases skiing’s round the shifting location of the Induction Gala for new Hall of Fame members.

Current Projects
Reshaping of the Middle East
Lowell Thomas
Northeast Passage: New York to Montreal
Ongoing Oral History Project