Home Teacher Resources teacher resources Oral History Project

Image source:
student resources


  • Invitation to inquiry
  • Open minds
  • Stimulate curiosity

In order to open your mind as to what oral history is, check out some of these examples:

NBC Learn

Audio clips of 9/11 oral histories from the 9/11 Memorial

Transcripts of 9/11 oral histories from the New York Times

Baltimore Riots of 1968 transcripts and audio from University of Baltimore

Baltimore's Forgotten Champions An excellent lengthy oral history report about the Baltimore Stallions, comprising more than 40 interviews. This requires some time to read, but it shows how a good oral history project puts interviews in context, rather than just splicing them together.

You may use a variety of Inquiry Tools and Strategies throughout the research process.

Click on the Immerse tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Build background knowledge
  • Connect to content
  • Discover interesting ideas












Images source:

The oral history project gets us actively involved in the study of United States history. You will choose a topic that you find interesting, and will use a wide variety of modern research tools to gather information and create a presentation that is not only personally meaningful, but adds to our understanding of American History in a way a text book never could. This is because a major part of this project is the individual interviews you'll conduct. Oral history preserves the first hand memories and interpretations of a person’s life experiences. We'll see that history is not simply a series of isolated events from the pages of a textbook, but rather it is composed of life experiences and the individual and collective memories of many people just like you.

Throughout the project, you will work through the research process by completing the following tasks:

  • selecting an appropriate oral history topic
  • creating a research focus question
  • acquiring information to understand the historical background of the research focus question
  • developing an outline
  • reviewing appropriate note-taking methods
  • constructing a variety of interview questions
  • describing the characteristics of a successful interview
  • demonstrating the characteristics of a good listener
  • developing the ability to recognize and understand opposing points of view
  • creating a historical record
  • determining the reliability of historical information

When you are dinished, you will share your research findings and conclusions in order to answer your inquiry question. We can't tell you what your inquiry question will be, and that's a good thing because you will ge to choose your inquiry question on your own. However, the over-arching question for this research project is:

How can we learn about the past through oral history?

Click on the Evaluate tab above to preview the assessments that you and your teacher may use to evaluate your research process and product.

Now, use one ore more ot the resources below to build background knowledge, connect to the content, and discover interesting ideas about a decade in American History which may be where your research is focused.


The 1950s


The 1960s


The 1970s


The 1980s

The 1990s


Begin your Inquiry Journal by responding to these Inquiry Journal Prompts.

Click on the Explore tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Explore interesting ideas
  • Look around
  • Dip in


Images source: wikimedia.org

At this stage, you should have a decade chosen that interests you. Apply exploratory strategies like browsing, scanning, and skimming as you use these resources to help you focus your research. Look around, "dip in" and explore interesting ideas. Try using the inquiry tools and strategies listed below to guide your exploration. You can use sites for your chosen decade that were used in the previous step, but we'll add some new ones as well. In addition, you can also explore your decade with print sources in your school's library media center.




The 1950s

The 1960s

The 1970s

The 1980s

The 1990s

Try using the inquiry tools and strategies listed below to guide your exploration:

  • Use the Stop and Jot strategy to record ideas and questions in your Inquiry Journal.
  • Use the Pair-Share Protocol to clarify your ideas, get feedback, and gain insight.
  • Use the Inquiry Log to keep track of sources that might be useful for further inquiry.
Click on the Identify tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Pause and ponder
  • Decide direction
  • Identify inquiry questions

Remember our over-arching inquiry question:

How can we learn about the past through oral history?

We've already spent time immersing and exploring to build background knowledge on a broad topic. Now, orur goal is for each of us to identify an inquiry question from the interesting ideas, pressing problems, and emerging themes we have explored . Your inquiry questions will zero in on a part or aspect of the larger topic that will frame the rest of your research process.

Try these questioning strategies and tools:

  • The Chart to Decide can help you narrow your notes from the exploration stage so you can identify a question that will guide your research as you gather more focused information. This guide will help you with completing the Chart to Decide.
  • Topic suggestions from the 1950s-1980s, and the 1990's.

Identify and make a note of keywords for searching, scanning, and skimming.

Click on the Gather tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Gather important information
  • Go broad (search & locate)
  • Go deep (read & reflect)

In the Gather phase you will collect detailed information from a variety of sources that help you form answers to your inquiry questions, using information that is meaningful and relevant. In this phase you'll be more concerned with discerning what makes information important. You'll be interested in citing, quoting, and paraphrasing correctly so you can later share your information.

Apply effective searching and reading strategies in order to locate and evaluate information relevant to your information need.

Use strategies and tools for note-taking, documentation, and reflection to gather and organize information, as directed by your teacher/librarian. Consider using these inquiry tools:

Demonstrate digital citizenship and avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing, quoting, and citing your sources.

  • Most BCPS-licensed database content includes a pre-formatted citation which you can simply copy and paste onto your Works Cited list.

  • Use your EasyBib School Edition account to create citations for other types of sources. Refer to EasyBib Citation Guides for help as needed. This Guide for Students is also a good starting point.

  • EasyBib is great for more than citations. You can use it to make and organize digital notecards using EasyBib Notebook. Check out the user guides.

Now, use a variety of sources on the Student Resources page to gather information.

When you think you have gathered enough important information to accomplish your research task, click on the Create tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Reflect on learning
  • Go beyond facts to make meaning
  • Create to communicate

After you have gathered enough information to construct your own understanding of your topic, you are ready to organize your learning into a creative presentation. This is the Create phase, which is key to communicating what you have learned. It helps you articulate what is important about the subject and requires you to integrate the ideas more firmly into a deep understanding. You'll go beyond simple fact finding and reporting. Instead you'll summarize, interpret, and extend the meaning of what you have learned and create a way to share your learning. You'll see that we have numerous options listed which provide just a portion of the ways you could create. You're only limited by your own creativity and by the depth of the knowledge you've built in the steps up until this point. For this project, you will create a research paper, as well as a way of presenting your information to an audience. This may be a display, but it also may involve creative use of technology.


Analyze your research notes to reflect on your learning.

  • Do you have enough information to to meet the demands of your research task?
  • What new insights have emerged in response to the Essential Question?

Synthesize your findings by creating a product/presentation to communicate new meaning and understanding. Be sure to respect the intellectual property of others:

Click on the Evaluate tab to review the assessment criteria for your product/presentation.

Then click on the Share tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Learn from each other
  • Share your learning
  • Tell your story

 An important part of this is project takes place when you share with others, so you can make sure the oral history you documented gets passed on. We can also learn from each other. Through modeling, listening, and encouraging, we can guide each other toward analyzing what we have learned, and in turn we are engaging in higher level thinking. 


Click on the Evaluate tab above to complete your inquiry.


  • Evaluate achievement of learning goals
  • Reflect on content
  • Reflect on process
The tools listed below may be used or adapted by you and your teacher to evaluate your research process, product and presentation.

Use these tools throughout your inquiry process to plan, make decisions, monitor progress, and reflect on your learning..

Research Process Evaluation & Reflection:

Research Product/Presentation Assessments:



NBC Learn teacher resources student resources