The Shaker Lakes Nature Center Oral History Project was initiated by Nature Center founding member Nancy King Smith, with interviews by researchers, students, and public school teachers in collaboration with the Center. Interviews cover a variety of topics relating to the creation of Shaker Lakes and the Nature Center, as well as to the broader issues in wildlife preservation and environmental education. Although the Shaker Lakes were man-made (serving as a major part of the development of Shaker Heights), the park quickly became a favorite spot for amateur naturalists from throughout the area. In the 1960s, as the encroaching highway system threatened to destroy the Lakes, a grassroots movement sprang up in their defense, gaining the attention of the nascent environmental movement in the US. After successfully rolling back highway development through the Lakes, the activists used the momentum to form the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, with the mission of protecting the park lands in perpetuity and educating students and other citizens on environmental issues.
The Shaker Lakes interviews are the first published series in the Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection.