Who is an American?
|Overview Museum Exhibition Oral History||When many people think about history, they
think about textbooks and encyclopedias, dusty documents, archives and
libraries. In fact history is all around us, in our own families and communities,
in the living memories and the experiences of people. We have only to ask
them and they can tell us enough stories to fill a library of books. This
kind of history -- that we all gather as we go through life -- is called
As part of your study of The Immigrant Experience, you and your classmates will gather some of these stories by conducting interviews and writing oral histories, which will be published as a chapbook.
To complete this assignment:
1. Carefully read Tips on Doing Oral History.
2. Make a list of possible interviewees. Consider family, friends, neighbors, and people you know from church or work or sports. Your subject should be an immigrant who came to the United States as a teen-ager or adult. Choose your subject and make an appointment.
3. Make a list of questions you want to ask. Consider the following questions, and add some of your own. Ask follow-up questions: Why? Could you tell me more about that? How did that feel? What did you do then? etc.
Why did your family come to this country?4. Conduct and tape your interview. (Take the time to check that the recorder is working at the beginning of the interview by recording a little and playing back!)
Begin by asking your subject his/her full name, age and occupation. Have the subject spell her/his name for you. Also ask if you can reproduce the interview transcript online or in other published work. If so, have the subject sign a release form.
Be sure to thank your interviewee.
5. Transcribe the tape. (Write down, word for word, what your subject has said) This will probably take 3-4 times as long as the interview itself.
6. Write a first person narrative based on your interview.
7. Submit your interview as a hard copy and on disk, or email it.