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CLASS ONE – What is Oral History?

1) Different ways that history is recorded

  1. Elders' story telling
  2. Cave painting
  3. Journals and diaries
  4. History books
  5. Radio
  6. Television
  7. Video
  8. Internet

2) Discussion about perceptions of senior citizens

  1. What do you think of when you hear the phrase "old person?"
  2. At what age is a person "old?"
  3. What are your experiences (positive and negative) with elderly people?
  4. What might make it interesting to be around elderly people?

3) Video Samples of Oral Histories (one or all of the video clips can be shown)

  1. Video clip 1 – An eighty year old man recalls how his grandmother invited "hoboes" into her kitchen for lunch during the Great Depression, in Cleveland, Ohio.
  2. Video clip 2 – An Asian woman describes her experience coming to an American school, when she could speak no English.
  3. Video clip 3 – a Jewish Holocaust survivor tells of hiding with her parents and other Jews in Poland during the Holocaust.
  4. Video clip 4 – An African-American man describes life in East Los Angeles, where he lived with many other ethnic groups in the 1920s and 1930s; included is a rare instance of discrimination in that neighborhood, and how it was handled by the residents.

4) Students discuss what they learned from the video taped oral histories

5) Suggested Assignment(s)

  1. Write an essay, poem, or short story based on your perceptions of seniors or a personal experience with an elderly person
  2. Write an essay about how history has been recorded over time, provide examples
  3. Draw a picture, make a collage, etc. about your perceptions of seniors, or experiences with a specific senior
  4. Write (or ad lib) and perform a scene about a senior citizen or an experience with a senior citizen


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