Journal Article

Negotiating between Generations: A Decade of Experience Teaching Oral History

Gregory R. Zieren

in The Oral History Review

Published on behalf of Oral History Association

Volume 38, issue 1, pages 158-174
Published in print January 2011 | ISSN: 0094-0798
Published online April 2011 | e-ISSN: 1533-8592 | DOI:
Negotiating between Generations: A Decade of Experience Teaching Oral History

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Teaching oral history to undergraduate history majors for the past ten years has taught me lessons about achieving effective instructional methods and obtaining historically worthwhile interviews of World War II, Home Front, and Korean War veterans. Students learn best practices visually. That is to say, they learn by watching other student interviewers and interviews by historians or other professionals. Students need guidance and deadlines in order to become more disciplined and effective. They also need grounding in military history and the purposes of oral history. Projects organized around a college curriculum work best with community involvement and input so that names can be generated as potential interview subjects. Generational differences between today's students in their twenties and their grandparents’ generation can complicate learning and intrude in interviews. At best, teaching oral history allows the instructor the opportunity to see students improve their skills over the course of a semester.

Keywords: intergenerational; interviewing; Veterans History Project; World War II

Journal Article.  7231 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Oral History

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