The Oral History of Immigrants

As part of my course on Immigrant America course I have students conduct a one-hour interview with someone who has immigrated to the United States. This could be a person who has lived here for decades or a relatively new immigrant. The students are required to write an 8-10 page paper based upon the interview.

I thought about this assignment as I read this post on online oral history projects at the AHA Today blog. Maybe some day we can get these student interviews into some kind of web database in order to make them more accessible. Some of them do a very good job with them.

In conducting this project I hope my students will learn:

1). A bit more about the immigrant experience in America and how to connect personal stories to larger historical trends and patterns.

2). A bit more about how to go about conducting an oral history interview

3). A bit more about how to empathize with the stories of people who are different than them. My hope is that some of my students are changed in the course of doing this assignment.