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Oral History Project involving data collection, analysis and presentation.

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History 106
Ryan McMillen
Oral History Project
Length: 6-8 pages
Final Paper Due AUGUST 4
Project Proposal and List of Questions Due JULY 14
For this project, you will be engaging in an oral history project involving data collection, analysis and presentation.

Each student will choose a particular historical event between 1945 and today (INCLUDING THE PANDEMIC) that is particularly memorable.
***I typically ask that the event covered in the project is something which occurred at least a decade prior, because events that are very recent are often difficult to understand historically.
However, we are living in extraordinary times. If you would like to fulfill your final project by using the COVID-19 pandemic as your topic, feel free to do so.

You may write an oral history paper in which you interview two different people you know and then comparing and contrasting their responses to your interview questions.
PLEASE DO NOT INTERVIEW ANYONE IN PERSON. CONDUCT ALL INTERVIEWS VIA PHONE, EMAIL, ZOOM, FACETIME, ETC***
You must
a) Define the event
b) Find individuals living during the period who remember the event
c) Determine what questions should be asked of those individuals about the event
d) Interview your subjects, and preferably record the interviews somehow (although not necessary.)

d) Pool the data and questions about the event collected and present it in a short analytical report using outside sources.
You should interview two people about the event, and you should attempt to have your subjects be as diverse as possible. I will leave the choice of subjects up to you.
PLEASE DO NOT INTERVIEW ANYONE IN PERSON DURING THE PANDEMIC. Interviews can be done over email, phone, Facetime, Zoom, etc. Follow-up interviews may be necessary to clarify certain points raised in the initial interview, and which come up during creation of the paper.
The questions need not be complex, but each interviewer must have a historical knowledge of the event such that they know how to talk about the event, they know how to listen to the subject concerning the event, and perhaps know how to respond with follow-up questions that may not be on the group’s prepared list of questions.
Also, the subject must be justified as relevant to the context of the course. The deeper connections you make between the experience of your subjects and the larger themes of the course, the better.
Older subjects are particularly preferred, i.e. grandparents, because their knowledge is more in danger of being lost. BUT DO NOT INTERVIEW IN PERSON (unless you are already STRICTLY isolating with that person.)
Examples of events:
JFK Assassination
MLK Assassination
Landing of men on the moon
Presidential elections (1968, in particular, was memorable)
Gulf War I or II
Arab Spring
Superstorm Sandy
9/11
COVID-19 PANDEMIC
There are several other events one can choose from but remember that smaller events might not be remembered by everyone. Choose big, resonant, important events.
Your paper should consist of three main components. The first two need only be in list format. You should include in your report
1) a list of the prepared questions asked,
2) a list of those interviewed, and most importantly
3) a report analyzing the answers to these questions and any follow-up questions.
Your paper should also use outside sources (secondary sources are fine) to describe the event itself and to help analyze the particular perspective your subjects bring to the event. For instance, if you interview your mother about the Kennedy assassination, and she worked in an office at the time, you might want to find out how working women viewed Kennedy at the time. This can help shed light on your mother’s reaction, and on the reaction of middle-class working women in the 1960s in general. This is only one example among an infinite number of examples.
Most of all, have fun. Interviewing your elders and showing an interest in their personal history can be a very rewarding experience.

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