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On the Home Front: Oral History Project


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



Additional Resources

An oral history can provide some of the best information about a topic. Oral histories will look at information provided by a local community member. It is a look at the memories of individuals that have a personal account of a specific time period or event in local or national history. It is an excellent activity for schoolchildren on learning about their local history.

 Stars and Stripes


When conducting an oral history interview, follow these few steps for a successful encounter:


1.      Select a topic from your local community.

2.      Research the topic to better understand the overall events.

3.      Contact a member of the community that was involved in the period or event and is willing to answer your questions.

 4.     Conduct the interview.  If possible, record the meeting.  Be sure to limit any questions to 1-2 hours.  Ask open-ended questions that will require more than a 1-word response. Always be polite.

5.      After the interview, listen to the recorded information and write out what had been said by the person interviewed.


Sample questions for an Oral History on World War II:


1.     What was your age between 1941-1945?

2.     If you were still in school, in what sort of activities did you class participate?

3.     What were the overall feelings of your friends and neighbors during those years?

4.     Did you know any people who were fighting in the war?  If so, who were they and what happened to them?

5.     What kinds of things did your parents or other relatives become involved with?

6.     How did your life change during those years of war?