Assignment: Interview someone who grew to adulthood during the twentieth century about an event or era that they lived through. Your first step will be to decide on a person to interview and a topic to interview them about. You might start out by choosing a topic. For example, you might decide you want to interview someone about the Vietnam War or in the case of an international event, perhaps a Civil War within your family’s experience. In that case, you could interview a person who actually served in the war, but it’s just as acceptable to interview someone who did not fight in the war but has memories of it. This could be the relative of a soldier, someone who participated in antiwar protests, or someone who simply remembers hearing about the war and seeing news coverage of it.
On the other hand, you might want to start by choosing a person rather than a topic and then talk to that person about something they remember as significant in their lives. This could be a historical event, such as Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, one of the assassinations of the 1960s, 9/11, etc. Or the interview could be about a specific time in that person’s life, such as their childhood or college years. You could ask about things like home life, school, recreation, dating, music, fashion, jobs, etc.
Whatever topic you choose, the questions will be up to you. But put thought into them in order to do a good job and to do justice to the person who agrees to be interviewed.
Keep in mind that you’re not expected to find a “famous” person or a person who “made” history. The point is that everyone’s life is intertwined with the history they live through. So it’s fine to interview anyone who is old enough to qualify.
For your paper, first introduce the person you interviewed (your “informant”) by providing basic background information. Following the introduction, present the interview. You can use a question-and-answer format or you can use only your informant’s own words. If you’d like, you can conclude the paper with a paragraph explaining what you got out of the interview and whether or not it affected the way you look at history. You may also include historic photographs in your paper to further document the interview, but including them is not mandatory.
I will ask the following questions when grading your paper:
How clear and informative is the introduction?
How clearly and effectively is the interview presented?
How many typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, and other mistakes does the paper contain?
How well are the formatting instructions followed?
How much thought and effort are apparent in the interview and the paper?
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