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Conducting an Oral History: Tips from Across the Smithsonian

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Civics +3 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

Oral history is a technique for generating and preserving original, historically interesting information – primary source material – from personal recollections through planned recorded interviews. This collection includes tips for conducting your own oral history from a student journalist and a historian, guides with suggestions for setting up your own interview, and recorded oral histories from key moments documenting a range of events in 20th century history. 

Recommended questions to consider with this collection of resources: What is the purpose and value of oral histories in relation to understanding historic events?  How do oral histories compare to other sources of information? How can what we learn in school help us understand and process the experience of today, in the context of history? What is our responsibility to document, reflect, and advocate?