In The Steps of Esteban: Tucson's African American Heritage

Go to A Brief HistoryGo to Biographies & Oral Histories
Go to Special Topics & Publications
Go to Photographic Exhibits
To to Lesson Plans & Ideas
Go to Videos
Go to Related Web Pages
Go to In The Steps of Esteban's homepage

Lessons Plans & Ideas

Oral Histories

One way to record history is to write biographical sketches based on interviews with people. The oral histories found on the website were written by University of Arizona students who interviewed people and then turned the information from those interviews into written biographical sketches.

You can also be an author who interviews members of Tucson's African American community, writes biographical sketches based on the interviews and has those written sketches published on the Internet in this website. The following exercises will help get you ready to write your oral histories.

Find a partner. You and your partner will work together on the project, including the interviewing and writing of a biographical sketch.

On the website, visit Biographies & Oral Histories and read the oral history of Lettie Moore in the Other Occupations section. As you read, think about the questions which Oran Carr, the author, might have asked to secure the information he used to write the biographical sketch. Then answer the questions below.

1. Look at paragraph 6, beginning, "Mrs. Moore's grandmother ..." What question(s) might Oran Carr have asked to get the information in this paragraph?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

2. Why wouldn't the question, "Who was an important figure in your life?" have been a complete enough question to get the information needed for this paragraph?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

3. One of the paragraphs implies a question Mr. Carr asked. Which paragraph is it and what was the question?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

4. Why is that question a better question than, "Has Tucson changed from 1966 to now?"

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

5. Look at the first four paragraphs. What is the purpose of those paragraphs?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

Return to the the Other Occupations section. Follow the link for Willie Ernestine Hall-Fears. Read the biographical sketch and answer these questions.

6. Look at the fourth paragraph beginning, Willie Fears recalls, the author quotes Willie. How might she have gotten and remembered Ms. Fears' exact words?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

7. What are some good reasons for including quotations in a biographical sketch?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

8. Return to the the Other Occupations section. Follow the link for Blanche Johnson. Quotations are also included in this biographical sketch, but they are included in a different way. What is the difference in how the author placed the quotations in the writing? Which way do you prefer?

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

With your partner, select another oral history to read. Select any one from the categories Education, Military, Medical & Legal Professions or Other Occupations. (Note: the biographical sketches in the category Pioneers are not based on oral histories and won't work for the following assignment.)

The kinds of questions an interviewer asks are important because the questions determine the information the interviewer will receive. You will continue to investigate the questioning process with the assignment below.

Read the oral history you selected and, list the questions that the author might have asked to find out the information she/he needed to write the oral history.

Name of the person you selected: _____________________________________

Questions:

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

i