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“Stories of a Third-Generation Independent Oil Producer”: An Oral History Project

Melissa Mann, Oil 150 Deputy Director
Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism
P.O. Box 128, 206 Seneca Street—Fourth Floor, Oil City, PA 16301

Today more than ever, Americans are keenly aware of the influence that oil has on their daily lives. However, when they talk about oil, most Americans limit their conversations to the industry’s major companies and their record earnings. It seems that over the years the public’s definition of the petroleum industry has become corporate offices filled with people in expensive suits. In response, the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism (ORA) is attempting to broaden this definition by shining a light on an oft forgotten member of the petroleum industry: the independent producer.

In July of 2007, the ORA began an oral history project entitled “Stories of a Third-Generation Independent Oil Producer.” The project highlights 66-year-old independent oil producer William L. Huber of Plummer, Pennsylvania. With the help of his son, Mr. Huber operates 80 active stripper wells in the Oil Region National Heritage Area on the same lease his grandfather drilled. Using a humble and straight-forward style, Mr. Huber communicates his family’s history and the traditions behind independent production. His story challenges Americans to remember the independent producer. This paper will document the process of creating “Stories of a Third-Generation Independent Oil Producer,” emphasizing the importance of collecting oral histories from the wide variety of people in the oil industry. Furthermore, it will describe the challenges associated with this particular historical methodology.


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