The Assignment

What is Oral History?

Oral History interviews illuminate powerful and textured depictions of events that help us more fully understand struggles and joy, individuals and communities, historical perspectives, and the present. Interviews are an exchange between two or more people where a researcher — in this case S2 eight graders — designs a set of questions to gather information. 

Preparing the Questions

  • Look over the list of questions provided in the “Bad Draft.” 
    • Think of three questions that you’d like to change, delete or add. Avoid yes and no questions, the goal is to get stories from your interviewee.
  • We will go over the list of questions as a class and reshape it together.

Choosing an Interviewee

  • Chose 3-5 8th graders you are comfortable speaking with and trust with your story.
    • If you would prefer to be interviewed by a teacher or staff member please let your primetime teacher know.

Arranging a Meeting

  • From you list of potential interviewers, you will be assigned an interviewer and interiewee.
  • With your interviewee and interviewer figure out times during school, or after school when you can conduct the oral history.

Recording the Interview

  • Figure out which application you will be using to record the interview.
    • You can record a Zoom call. You will only need to submit the audio file.
    • Both iPhone and Android phones have built-in software to record.
    • If you are interviewing someone over the phone, I recommend you use two phones; One to record and the other to make the call on speaker phone.
  • Practice using your recording equipment.
  • While the interview is going on make sure the equipment is working.

During the Interview

  • Speak in the language most comfortable for your interviewee.
  • Don’t be judgmental of their responses.
  • Try not to give positive or negative feedback.
  • Be casual.

Being an Active Listener

  • Give cues that you are listening.
  • Remember to ask follow-up questions. If their feels like there is more to what they are saying, ask them to share more.
  • After you finish, ask your interviewee if there is anything you should have asked but did not ask.
  • Ask them if they’re still comfortable anonymously sharing their entire interview.

Submitting the Interview

  • In Class submit all oral histories to Dr. Samuel Finesurrey through dropbox at
    • Please label interviews with the interviewee’s name.
    • Inform the instructor about any responses you want to take out of testimony.


  • The interviewee should not answer any questions that make them uncomfortable or do not apply to them.
  • The interviewee will choose their potential interviewers.
  • NO-ONE at S2 other than the interviewer will know what is stated in the interviews.
  • No responses with identifying information will ever be made public.
  • If there are sections of the interview the interviewee or interviewer would like sealed from researchers, let your teachers know and they will be removed.
  • As a class, we can create additional rules as needed.