By now, you should have chosen a topic for your research paper. Tell me:
1) who you will be interviewing and what historical event or period they were involved in. Include the year and the place in which your story takes place.
2) List one other primary source (not the person you are interviewing) you might use for your paper. Remember that a primary source comes from the time period you are researching.
3) Cite this source correctly and fully. You can check this link for a guide to citing sources.
4) In a sentence or two, tell me what information you hope to find from this other primary source that will help you write your paper.
The real paper’s instructions are:
Oral History: Choose an ordinary person you know and show how an important event or period in 20th century history impacted his or her life. You will do this by interviewing one or more people and taking note of their experiences during an extraordinary time. You will have to compare their feelings and experiences to how we look back at the past event or period today.
Here is how to do this:
Find someone – preferably a family member – whom you can interview. Have them tell you about their experiences during an important historical event or time period. This is important: you don’t just want someone’s opinion of an event – you want their experiences living through an event or time period.
The event must have something to do with U.S. history. It could be an event that occurred in the United States (Red Scare, Counterculture), or an event in which the United States was involved in some way (Vietnam War, Arab-Israeli conflict).
Find other primary sources (other people, newspapers, etc.) and compare them to your subject’s recollections and experiences. A primary source is one from the time period of your event – an eyewitness to the event.
Compare all of these primary source recollections to a modern interpretation of the event. This can be found in a secondary source. A secondary source looks back at the event from today (history books or articles will help here).
Draw some sort of conclusion about the topic based on all you have learned from the primary and secondary sources – did you gain greater insight than you would have from just reading about it in a textbook?
Structure of your paper:
Your paper should be 6 – 9 pages long, not including a title page (optional) or the Works Cited page. Papers that are too short will receive lower grades.
Create a title that identifies what your paper will be about.
Briefly introduce the person you will be interviewing and the event or time their story will focus on.
Use a secondary source to give a summary of the place and years in which your story takes place.
Focus on important events in that place and time that directly relate to the story you will be telling.
Turn your interview into a paper. Be sure your subject’s recollections make sense to me and are organized in a clear manner. Focus on interesting details; tell the story of their experiences in that time and place (not their whole life story). You can also compare your subject’s recollections to other primary sources.
Describe modern interpretations of the event found in secondary sources and compare them to your subject’s experiences. In other words, what do historians say about the event today that may be similar or different from the first-hand accounts you’ve recorded? This can be a separate part of the paper or you can incorporate it into the main story as you write it.
For a conclusion, explain what have you learned that you wouldn’t have gotten from a textbook.
Include page numbers for your paper.
Use standard margins and font size: bigger letters are no substitute for information.
You must cite quotations, specific data, specific ideas or opinions you get from other sources. Citations should be numbered and noted as footnotes or endnotes.
Include a Works Cited page at the end of your paper properly citing the sources you used.