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Interview a Senior Citizen
who is over 70 years old.
This assignment takes the place of a biography, as such, please refer to the scoring guide for biographies. However, as an interview, the format is one of question and answer (an example). Please send me your questions before you do the interview.
I recommend video or audio taping the entire interview and then let me help you select a small portion of it for publication after I have seen the transcript that you transcribe from the tape. A brief audio file (or even a short video clip) of an interesting portion of your interview will be used so site visitors can have a richer experience with your subject. The questions you ask will largely depend on your subject's background. Still, try to relate their experience within a broad historical framework. Some sample questions might be:
From what country did your ancestors immigrate? Do you know what drove that
decision and what was that experience like?
What was it like for your parents during the world's Great Depression of the early 1930s?
Do you have any comments on race relations? Were racial issues significant where you grew up?
What travel experiences have you had? What do you think of America becoming the world's most powerful nation?
What is one of the most severe problems facing our country, or world today? How did that come to be?
Why do you think it is important to study history?
Please have them comment on any of the following events if they held personal significance:
1914 - 1918 - WWI
1929 - Stock Market Crash
1939 - 1945 WWII, Atomic weapons
1948 - Nation of Israel re-established
1950 - '53 Korean War
1957 - USSR launches Sputnik
1964 - '75 Vietnam War
1969 - Man walks on the moon
2001 - Twin Towers destroyed
Other events which may have impacted their life:
The spread of communism, the cold war
African nations gain independence (late 1950s and throughout 1960s)
On a more personal level:
How have the changes in culture and family since the 1960s impacted their own family?
What religious convictions do they hold and how have these effected the path of their life?
How comfortable are they with the ageing process and facing eventual death?
Include some historical details of a particular date by visiting http://www.brainyhistory.com or this http://dmarie.com/asp/history.asp time capsule. For example, look up what was happening on the world stage on the day that your subject was born, married, or lost a child or spouse. Weave that information into your narrative or include it as endnotes if transcribing question and answer format.
If you are interviewing a veteran, please visit the Veterans History Project and follow the link "participate in the project" to see if this is something you would like to pursue.
see also Making Sense of Oral History
Make sure your subject knows that this information might be published on the Internet and obtain their permission. Assure them that their address, phone number, and other contact information will be kept private. However, please do send me contact information in case I need to clarify anything with your subject.