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Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Project: Interview with Elwood R. Maunder
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Born in Bottineau, North Dakota, in 1917; parents were English immigrants; father was a Methodist pastor; served with the Coast Guard as a public relations specialist in Europe during World War II; one younger brother; moved to Excelsior and then to Minneapolis when his father accepted different preaching positions; graduated from North High in Minneapolis in 1935; bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota; worked for two Minneapolis newspapers; after the war received master's degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1947; studied at London School of Economics in1948; returned to United States and took a job as director of public relations for the Methodist Church's Board of Foreign Missions; March 1952 accepted job at Minnesota Historical Society as publicist and acting executive secretary of the Forest Products History Foundation; served as editor-in-chief of Forest Products History Newsletter; in 1956 the Forest History Foundation separated from MHS and became its own non-profit organization; in 1964 moved to Yale University; in 1969 moved to University of California at Santa Cruz; two marriages, in 1941 to Margaret Edna Fornell, with whom he had three children, Jean Michele (1951), Martha Ellen (1952) and Elizabeth Ann (1956), and in 1973 to Eleanor Argate Crenshaw. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: April 24, 1991: Life as a child, as a Methodist preacher's child; his parents' lives and immigration to Canada from England; early influences, especially his father's philosophies; impact of not having an extended family nearby; teachers who influenced his life; years at the University of Minnesota and work on the Minnesota Daily newspaper; the value of traveling abroad as a young person; the intellectual ferment of the 1930s; war experience; getting into Washington University; the impact of his travels in Europe during the German Anschluss in 1937; important University of Minnesota professors; work with Minneapolis newspapers; studying at the London School of Economics; work with Conference of Foreign Ministers in late 1940s; and his return to America. Joining the MHS staff; problems during the initial years of the Forest Products History Foundation; Rodney Loehr; trying to maintain the foundation; the foundation's advisory board; early forestry movements in Europe; searching for original materials to document forest history; creating and editing the Forest Products History Newsletter; doing oral interviews; the agreement between the MHS and the foundation to publish books; separating from MHS and becoming a national, not a regional, organization; the foundation's move to and relationship with Yale University; moving in 1969 from Yale to the University of California at Santa Cruz; the relationship with Santa Cruz; fund-raising; grants; the role of the board as a governing body; his continuing relationship with MHS; rumors that he was recommended to take over at MHS; reasons for not leaving the foundation. April 25,1991: His childhood bout with scarlet fever; childhood travels; his pets; his two marriages; the difficulty in separating oneself from an organization; early impressions of MHS; revitalizing the staff organization; miscellaneous memoranda from his days at MHS; the staff movement to remove Harold Cater as head of MHS; the responsibility of being whistle blowers; his distress with the current state of society in general; the difficulties of homosexuality within MHS and the Midwest in general in the 1950s. Memories and impressions of Gene Becker, June Holmquist, Russell Fridley; Fridley's reaction to the foundation splitting off from MHS; Sandy Cutler and Ruth Abernathy; the evolution of the focus of MHS. April 26,1991: His assistants at the Forest History Society, including Clodaugh Niederheiser; the Society's work in encouraging further education; Anna Chestnut, his assistant at Yale; Roberta Barker, his assistant at Santa Cruz; other outstanding staff members: Mary Jane Magney, Eileen Coine, Ann Lindquist, George Morgan, Joseph Miller and numerous others; the value of a solid staff to back up serious scholarly research; David Winton, member of the board at the Forest History Society; Robert Slaughter and his support of the society; Slaughter's funding of the survey and oral history project of the St. Croix River Valley lumber district; Charlie Kelly; and the Quetico-Superior Project. The founding of the Oral History Association; how oral histories contribute to the historical record; all of the oral interviews that he did for the Forest History Society; John Larson, who did interviews for the FHS; transcribing and editing the interviews; handling errors in transcription; problems encountered in oral history when a sponsor has too much control; importance of preparatory research before doing interviews. His key pieces of published works; interviews for National Resource Council of America with some leading conservationists; his interest in internationalism; his studies of the Munich Conference of the late 1930s; his post-retirement work with the National Council of Churches and his trips to the Soviet Union; talking with Russians about life under the new regime and Perestroika; his contentment in his many published works; feeling burned out at the end of his career; the joy in developing new interests after he retired. April 27, 1991: His father as a strong Labour man in England; his father's interest in the Non-partisan League; his father's ministry and the numerous churches that he served; the influence of his paternal grandmother; the influence of an early babysitter, Mamie Williams, in Exclesior; the death of his father; he shares various clippings from his journalism career; his focus on trying to fathom the mysteries of conflict, such as the World Wars.
7.5 hours sound cassette
107 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
06:35:53 running time
Interviewee: Maunder, Elwood R.
Interviewer: Kane, Lucile M.
Made in: Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Creation: 04/24/1991 - 04/27/1991 (Interviews conducted 4/24/1991, 4/25/1991, 4/26/1991 and 4/27/1991.)
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 82.12 (Library Call Number)
AV1993.135 (Accession Number)
MNHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Project'