Students Contribute to St. Andrew’s Pre-Collegiate Oral History Collection, Exceeding 1,300 Entries
by St. Andrew's Communications Staff
St. Andrew’s hosted the 22nd Annual Oral History Night on Tuesday evening, a celebration of a year-long project by members of the junior class. The St. Andrew’s Oral History Project is the largest pre-collegiate collection of oral histories in North America, and with the addition of 65 new primary source interviews on Tuesday, it now sits at a robust 1,340.
The Oral History Project at St. Andrew’s began in 1998. Founded by Glenn Whitman, then a history teacher and now the Dean of Studies and Director of the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, and author of "Dialogue with the Past: Engaging Students and Meeting Standards through Oral History," the project is one that engages all American History students in the junior class.
On Tuesday night, students and their parents heard from Julia Karron ‘11, who shared a reflection on her experience interviewing Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. ice hockey team that defeated the Soviet Union team to win gold. Five students presented on their topics – Justice Morgan, who interviewed Helen Ann Matteson about her experience of World War II; Kisa Kiingi, who spoke with Halsey Beemer, an early member of the Peace Corps; Annabel Resor, who sat down with Seymour Hersh and learned about the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War; Karis Mardirossian, who interviewed Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi on the subject of the Iranian Revolution; and Isabel Atiyah, who explored the transition from celluloid to digital film by interviewing Sheila Smith.
The Oral History Project begins with the selection of an interviewee followed by a 7-10 page scholarly research paper aimed at helping students become experts on their subject and to develop interview questions. Next comes an interview and a full transcription. The transcription creates an original primary source, valuable to the many college graduate students who come to the Oral History Project looking for original sources. Next comes the analysis paper discussing how this new primary source fits into all of history. Lastly, there is a visual representation of the project that can be in the form of a trifold poster, a PowerPoint or iMovie presentation, or even a podcast.
Among the more famous past interview subjects are John Glenn, Colin Powell, Sandra Day O’Connor, Marion Barry, Doug Williams, Peter Berg, Helen Thomas, Charlie Wilson and Pierre Omidyar (St. Andrew’s Class of 1984). Interviews for the oral history project currently reside in the Civil Rights Museum (Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine), and the National Baseball Hall of Fame (Ernest Burke, a former Negro League Player).