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LOVE is learning to listen, and listening to learn.

" Oral history is an ideal process for understanding the past and unfolding present and for preserving voices that would not otherwise be heard."

Capturing the Historical Moment, Regional Oral History Office, University of California Berkeley Library.

Guides for Using Oral History with Students

Below is a list of the contents of this section. Click on any item in which you are interested for a fuller description and to reach the Internet link.

Using Oral History - Lessons on social history and how to conduct oral history interviews.
Learning About Immigration - Oral history activities for learning about immigrants.
Oral History Internet Resources - Web site with multiple links related to oral history.
Oral History - Another multiple link web site, featuring oral history interview outline.


Using Oral History to Explore the Lives of Everyday Americans
This site encourages teachers to tap a Library of Congress collection of interviews and oral histories of Americans from the 1930's as a means of helping students (grades 7-12) understand the meaning of social history (history of the everyday experiences and beliefs of ordinary people). It also provides lessons which prepare students to conduct oral history interviews with members of their own communities. The lessons include guidelines for doing background research, identifying interview subjects, carrying out interviews, analyzing results, and extending learning by supplementing the interview results with additional primary source materials (e.g., photographs). Some of the learning materials available at this site are in text formats which can be printed out and reproduced. Others are professional audio recordings to be "played" on a multimedia computer.

Learning About Immigration Through Oral History
Developed by teachers who participated in the American Memory Fellows Program, this web site outlines a series of activities for using oral history to promote learning about immigration. The activities, designed for middle and high school students, focus on comparing and contrasting the stories of contemporary immigrants from the local community with others from the oral history collections in the 1930's. The activities can be integrated as a complete curriculum for a year-long project or adapted for use as stand-alone units.

Oral History Internet Resources
Click on the link for the Michigan Oral History Association. At this site,teachers and students will find links to: oral history guides and information on oral history methods and techniques; oral history organizations; oral history listservs; oral history centers and collections; and major oral history projects.

Oral History
The site provides links to oral history centers and collections; oral history training centers; and oral history associations. It also includes a link to Rice University's sample oral history interviews. Follow that link, and click on Oral History Outline for a topical outline which can be adapted for students to use in conducting oral history interviews.


Oral Interviews Related to the 'Africans in America' Series

Below is a list of the contents of this section. Click on any item in which you are interested for a fuller description and to reach the Internet link.

Remembering Slavery - Book-tape with oral histories of people who experienced slavery.
The Historian's Sources - Primary sources on slavery, including oral history interviews.
American Slave Narratives - Sampler of oral history narratives of former slaves.
History in the Making - Video clip of actual oral history interview.


Remembering Slavery, ed. Ira Berlin, Marc Favreau, and Steven Miller. The New Press, 1998. This is a book and tape package, published in conjunction with the Library of Congress and as a companion to the Smithsonian Productions radio documentary. In addition to dramatic readings of untaped interviews by prominent African Americans, it also includes a selection of the only known original recordings of people who actually experienced slavery.

The Historian's Sources: Primary Source Set - Slavery in the United States, 1790-1865
The site connects teachers with a collection of primary sources which students can be assigned to analyze and evaluate. Click on links associated with 4 c, d, and e to connect with the text of three oral history interviews.

American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology
This web site offers a sampling of text from oral history narratives of former slaves, gathered in the course of interviews conducted under the Works Progress Administration from 1936-1938. The text of the entire collection of narratives can be found in George P. Rawick, ed. The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972-79).

History in the Making
Click here to view a segment of a video which shows the "Africans in America" series master teacher, Kathy Lee, conducting an oral history interview. She is interviewing Wesley Wilson, the son of a former slave whose life spans almost a century of African-American history. Wilson migrated from South Carolina to Philadelphia during World War I, worked hard to raise a successful family, and actively participated in the civil rights movement. Video courtesy of Bill Wilson and Family. NOTE: You must have RealPlayer to view. To download a free copy, click here.


Examples of Oral History Interview Projects

Below is a list of the contents of this section. Click on any item in which you are interested for a fuller description and to reach the Internet link.

Oral History Association - Web site with links to major oral history programs and projects.
The Ellis Island Oral History Project - Profiles largest immigrant oral history project.


Immediately following are two examples of web sites featuring oral history projects. The first, located at the Oral History Association web site, is a hub which routes users to major oral history project sites throughout the country. The second is a web site highlighting one of the most extensive oral history projects ever undertaken.

Oral History Association Links to Centers and Collections
Go to this site for an extensive series of links to major institutions housing the results of oral history research and/or currently engaged in a variety of oral history interview projects.

The Ellis Island Oral History Project
This site profiles the oldest and largest oral history project aimed at preserving the remembered experiences of immigrants entering America through this gateway from 1892-1954. It is estimated that 40% of the current population of the United States have ancestors who entered the United States via Ellis Island. The project's collection includes more than 1,300 taped interviews. By clicking on miniature portraits of immigrants throughout the web site, teachers and students can access audio clips and hear individual immigrants from many countries who were processed through Ellis Island tell their own stories in their own words.

Part I: Beginning with the Basics

Primary Sources
Oral Interviews

Return to Home Page

Part II: Tapping Teaching Resources

Family Roots
Neighborhood/Community Histories
Service Learning Projects