Oral History Program
The Intermodal Founding Fathers Oral History Program will preserve the rich history of the intermodal freight transportation industry for posterity, research, and educational purposes. During the last 40 years, revolutionary changes have impacted the movement of freight and precipitated a restructuring of North America's freight transportation system.
The University of Denver Intermodal Transportation Institute (ITI) and its Board of Directors hosted the Intermodal Founding Fathers of North America Conference on 27-29 July 1999. This historic conference provided the backdrop for more than 40 industry pioneers to be interviewed as a part of this important oral history program. This was a "not to be missed" opportunity to record the history of the intermodal freight movement in the words of those who created it.
The Intermodal Founding Fathers Oral History Program will create a unique record of the legacy of these trailblazing industry leaders who have had such a significant impact on today's transportation system. The project will have lasting value to the transportation industry, students, and scholars by providing the opportunity to view and read about the wisdom and vision of those early pioneers, stated in their own words. The timeliness of this project highlights the importance of preserving historical records and materials to ensure that those who wish to may study history and hopefully not "be doomed to repeat it."
The Intermodal Founding Fathers Oral History Program began with the Intermodal Founding Fathers of North America Conference; however, it is a separate project that requires its own funding. ITI is seeking to raise $1 million over the next four years to support this project. There are three reasons ITI is taking the lead on this project to record and preserve the history of this industry.
First, ITI was established in order to educate the next generation(s) of transportation leaders. To that end, it has developed an innovative, 12-month Master of Science in Intermodal Transportation Systems program, which began on 23 August 1999. This graduate program is unique and will focus on developing and operating intermodal systems — both freight and passenger. It is truly an interdisciplinary program with a broader focus than the traditional fields of logistics, business, or engineering. This rigorous graduate program requires commensurate educational materials. Since there are few materials available, ITI seeks to collect the primary source material directly from the founders of the industry.
Second, several intermodal pioneers have already passed on. Others cannot remember their experiences as well as they might have even a few years ago.
Literally every day, the rich and unique heritage of this industry is being lost.
And finally, ITI seeks to preserve this historical record because there is no other effort underway.
ITI is committed to promoting an intermodal transportation system through its education programs and research projects. In addition to recognizing the necessity to gather and preserve the historical record of the intermodal founding fathers, ITI, in collaboration with the National Freight Transportation Library, Inc., is already preserving historically significant transportation collections, such as the 60,000 volume historical library of the former Interstate Commerce Commission and the 3,500-volume US Railway Association collection.
The oral history project will initially consist of video- and audiotaped interviews of the more than 40 individuals attending the conference who have contributed to the development of the intermodal freight system. Trained professionals, with a background in human relations and history, will conduct the interviews. The interviews will be edited, transcribed, and preserved in the ITI Transportation Library Collections, which are managed and maintained by Penrose Library at the University of Denver.
Following the completion of the interviews, the oral history project will proceed in phases. Initially, the project will focus on the material acquired at the Intermodal Founding Fathers of North America Conference.
In Phase One, the material will be transcribed, archived, and preserved in Penrose Library. Subsequently, the transcribed and annotated interviews will be placed on the ITI Website for public access (www.du.edu/transportation). The interviews will be available in 2000. In addition, the Proceedings of the Intermodal Founding Fathers of North America Conference will be published as the Summer 2000 issue of theTransportation Law Journal.
Phase Two will consist of the development of educational materials, including textbooks, articles, and films. The original videos will be condensed into a 50-minute video summary of the history of the intermodal freight industry. The development of a two- to three-hour film that describes the history in more detail will follow. Textbooks, case studies, and other written materials will also be developed.
Subsequent phases will expand the scope of oral history interviews. Altogether, ITI would like to interview 200 industry leaders. This oral history collection will be available to other researchers and scholars with legitimate historical or educational objectives. It will also be available to the industry.
Intermodal Founding Father Oral History Program
Patrick Sherry - Project Coordinator
Steven Fisher - Archives Curator
Lawrence H Kaufman - Industry Consultant
ITI Oral Historians
Kim Cragg Campbell