Telling It Like It Was

Do you have a family treasure that tells a story? Or is there an interesting monument, building or site if your town? Choose an intriguing object and interview people who can tell you about it. This could be an object you have always loved, or maybe it is something so familiar you have never really thought about it before.

Either way, start to look at it with a historian's eye: Where did this come from? And how can you tell others its story?

This task could be used with students - younger children to older students. It introduces several powerful ideas:

  • The role of oral history in the life of any community.
  • Interviewing skills, vital not only for historians but journalists, doctors and others.
  • Skills of attentiveness - viewing the "taken-for-granted" with new eyes.
  • What constitutes a historical source? What makes an eye witness account valid?
  • Writing engaging history.