Interview with Dr. James A. Hartman

Interviewer & Interviewee

James A. Hartman
Molly Hartman
Lester Hartman


Humanities Across Iowa

Streaming Media

Media is loading

Document Type

Oral History



Publication Date



Des Moines, Iowa


Dr. James A. Hartman was the 2014 recipient of the L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). According to the AAPG, this prestigious award recognizes members of the geological community who have made extraordinary contributions to philanthropy and the association’s mission. Over a distinguished career spanning many decades, Dr. Hartman worked at the Reynolds Jamaica Mines and the Union Carbide Ore Company before retiring with Shell Oil in the early 2000s. Born in Lanark, Illinois in January 1928, he now lives in Des Moines, Iowa. In this field interview, Dr. Hartman, who is accompanied by his wife, Molly, and his son, Lester, recounts his own life and career, and also tells the story of his father’s service in the first World War. Later in the interview, Molly offers a perspective on growing up during the Great Depression and working at her family’s roadside motel during World War II, as well as her life as the stay-at-home mother in the 1950s and 1960s. Finally, Jim and Molly describe how, after attending the same elementary school and having marriages and careers that lasted until the twenty-first century, they met and married just a few years ago, as Jim was dealing with the damage to his New Orleans home caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Llewelyn Hartman, Jim Hartman’s father, served as a “runner” delivering messages between Allied outposts, frequently crossing the gunfire, artillery, and mustard gas of the deadly area known as “no man’s land.” The French government awarded him a Croix de Guerre for battlefield valor. Later in his interview, Jim describes his experience visiting the battlefields upon which his father fought nearly a century before. In all, this interview provides an interesting perspective into the life of an extraordinary Iowan.

Interviewer: Eric Zimmer


Public History


Copyright © 2014 The University of Iowa