The students in my Pennsylvania History course are handing-in their oral history papers today. As part of their work for the semester, each student was required to interview a person who could tell them something about recent Pennsylvania history.
Hopefully the assignment taught them something about Pennsylvania history and something about the practice of oral history. I asked students to conduct a one-hour interview, transcribe the interview, and write an eight-page paper on a topic in Pennsylvania history using the interview as a primary source.
The students worked hard at locating interviewees and connecting their stories to larger stories in the history of the state. Topics included Three Mile Island, the 1969 York Race Riots, agricultural life in mid-century Pennsylvania, life on the Pennsylvania home front during World War II, Italian South Philadelphia in the 1970s, the Lancaster Amish, the Philadelphia MOVE bombing, the history of Messiah College, post-1965 immigration and ethnicity, the 1972 Agnes flood, and industrial decline in specific towns.
I am looking forward to reading them.