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What is Oral History?

Oral History is simply asking our families and friends about their lives and recording their answers. We recommend kicking the week off by watching this short video produced by Story Corps. It's a great introduction to Oral History!

Why is it important?

Oral History is so important because it is a way to connect with family and friends while learning more about them and their own personal "history". This is also important because, if recorded, it helps to keep people's stories alive forever and can give a lot of insight into what life may have looked like in the past.

How you can take part in Oral History

You can take part in Oral History by interviewing the people in your life. Especially during these challenging times where you may not be seeing a large portion of your loved ones, it is a way to connect through a simple phone or video call. This can achieved through a casual conversation guided by the questions below, a more formal recorded interview or anywhere in between!

Ways to expand your Oral History experience

The great thing about Oral History is that you can adapt it in any way that you want! One way to further dive into the topic is by including photos. Ask your interviewee if they have photos from when they were younger that can further enhance the Oral History experience (this is also a great time to label old photos including: date, who is in the photo, where the photo was taken and any other relevant information - using a soft lead pencil on the back of the photo is the safest way to do this). Another way to extend your experience would be to share it with us! We would love to hear from you whether this is by sharing a video, audio file, transcript, photos or even just something that you learned through your experience!

Sample Questions:

These are just some general ideas, feel free to add any other questions you can think of or customize the questions however you would like!

Questions for adults:

  • What is your birthday?

  • Where were you born?

  • Where did you grow up?

  • What was your house like? Did you live in a neighborhood? A farm? A town?

  • What were your neighbors like?

  • Where did you go to school?

  • Who were some of your best friends?

  • What did you do for fun?

  • Do you have any teachers that you still remember or that stuck out to you? Why?

  • Did you ride the bus to school? Walk? Ride a bike? Drive?

  • Who did you live with?

  • What are your parents and siblings names?

    • What were they like?​

    • What's your favorite memory with them?

  • What are grandparents names?

    • Did you grow up with them?​

    • What were they like?

    • What's your favorite memory with them?

  • Is there anyone else in your family that you grew up with (aunts, uncles, cousins, great-grandparents, etc.)

  • Did you have any pets? What were their names?

  • What was going on in the world when you were born/growing up (ex: wars, economic troubles, etc.)? How did you feel about it?

  • What was going on in the world when you were a young adult (ex: wars, economic troubles, etc.)? How did you feel about it?


Questions for kids:

  • What schools do you go to or have you gone to?

  • Who was your favorite teacher? Why were they your favorite?

  • What is your favorite subject?

  • Who do you sit with during lunch?

  • What's your favorite thing to have at lunch?

  • What do you do at recess?

  • How do you get to school? If by bus, who do you sit with? If by car, who takes you?

  • Who's your best friend?

  • What do you like to do in your free time?

  • Who do you live with at home? Any pets?

  • What does your home look like? Do you live in a neighborhood? A farm? A town?

  • What are your neighbors like?

  • What's your favorite game to play?

  • What's your favorite thing to watch on TV?

  • What's your favorite book?

  • What's your favorite meal at home? (feel free to include recipe!)

  • Where is the coolest place you've ever been?

  • What's your favorite season and why?

  • What's your favorite thing to do in the summer? Winter?

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