My colleagues and our high school class have been using oral history
methods to construct the Prince
George’s County Information Commons history page. Today an expert
from the Oral
History in Education Institute at University of Maryland came to class
to teach our students proper interviewing techniquesunfortunately
too late to improve our most important interviews, which are over. I thought
one of the most interesting distinctions she made was between journalism
and oral history. She claimed that oral history is less adversarial than
reporting. "We are recipients of the story," she said. She taught
the students to avoid leading questions and questions that anticipate
yes/no answers. Open-ended questions are the oral historian’s tool.
The class and I came to understand our serious responsibilities better
as a result of the session. The desegregation of Prince George’s County
Schools was an epic struggle. Understanding it is crucial, since racial
divisions and inequities remain, and no one is sure how to address them.
In nearly half a century since the struggle began, no one had interviewed
some of the key players, such as the first African American students to
attend White schools in our county. Chances are, no one else will interview
them after us. So we alone are creating primary source materials for later
historiansand they better be good. We didn’t seek this responsibility.
Our original intentions were to provide a civics lesson and to develop
innovative ways of using websites. But the responsibility is real even
if we backed into it.
We were given these links to good online oral history projects conducted
Did You Do, Grandma?
Watching: An Oral History of 1968
the Great Depression
of the People
(I have found the same list on this