Guide for Educators
Oral history means to gather information about the past through recorded interviews with people who experienced it firsthand. In the classroom, oral histories are valuable primary sources, connecting students of all ages to the past through eyewitness testimony. They can provide personal insight on complicated issues.
The MHHE Oral History Program includes interviews related to World War II, the Holocaust, the American home front during the war, and the immigration experience. In order to effectively utilize video clips from the program in your classroom, consider the following guidelines.
- Review the collection of video clips while you are drafting lesson plans. You can select the most appropriate videos for the topics you are covering (ex. “Holocaust Resistance,” “Postwar America,” or "Life in a New World").
- Remind your students that the interviews represent a small portion of all experiences related to the Second World War and immigration. Each interview is uniquely personal.
- Read each video description carefully before presenting it to your students. Some of the videos may contain language or content that is unsuitable for younger students.
- Provide a short list of questions, on the board or on a worksheet, for your students to consider while viewing the video.
- What words or emotions stand out to you?
- How does this person’s account make you feel?
- How does it compare or contrast with what you already know?
- How do you think this person’s identity could have impacted their experience?
For additional information, access the Library of Congress Teacher's Guide: Analyzing Oral Histories.