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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Ranger Lore: The Occupational Folklore of Park Rangers

In 2013, folklorists Brent Björkman, Director of the Kentucky Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, and Jonathan Kay, Director of Traditional Arts Indiana at Indiana University in Bloomington, received an Archie Green Fellowship to document the folklore, folklife, and oral histories of park rangers and park workers in state and federal parks in Indiana and Kentucky. In cooperation with state and federal park personnel, the fieldworkers videotaped 55 interviews documenting the occupational traditions and experiences of past and present park rangers. Those interviewed work or had worked in various positions within their park systems, including serving as tour guides, law enforcement officers, ecologists, wildlife managers, and administrators. Interviews with several female employees focus on the expanding role of women employees within the park systems. Many of those interviewed were employees of Mammoth Cave National Park, a World Heritage Site in Kentucky. In addition to enriching the American Folklife Center archive, the project was undertaken to provide background materials for the 2016 centennial celebration of both the National Park Service and the Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs system.

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