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The use of primary documents in the form of letters, photographs, newspaper articles, and oral histories not only helps history come alive for students, it also allows students to play the role of historian. The process of selecting, evaluating, and interpreting evidence to develop and test an historical hypothesis is central to the historian's craft and helps students develop critical thinking skills. Oral histories provide unique perspectives and vivid stories, but the unreliability of memory and subjectivity means that as source material, oral histories, like all evidence, need to be analyzed and interpreted by the historian. The historian uses additional primary documents for evaluating, reinforcing and contrasting the oral testimony. For that purpose we have provided in this section some text and image documents to supplement the Brooklyn College student oral histories on Farm Labor work and the college censorship of The Vanguard newspaper.
Included here are two unedited oral history interview transcripts, one from each historical episode: Marjorie Brockman narrates her experience with the Farm Labor Project and Bill Taylor tells of working on the Vanguard when it was suspended by the college president. These sample transcripts provide students and teachers of oral history the opportunity to examine an interview in its entirety, note the ways in which the interviews deviate from the prescribed interview question guides, analyze the interpretive choices that the website producers made in the edited testimonies, mine the transcripts for additional historical significance, and discuss the advantages and limitations of oral histories as primary documents. More generally, researchers of these historical periods will find the interviews full of histrical evidence and memories not included in the edited narratives. (Note to the reader: The narrators reviewed their interviews and made minor edits and corrections. Confidential material about other people was removed from these transcripts.)
These are the two Interview Guides that were used by the historians and students of oral history who conducted interviews with Farm Labor Project and Vanguard participants. The interview questions were develoed after research was conducted about the two historical episodes. The guides were refined on the heels of preliminary interviews with some of the interviewees. the interview questionaires are referred to as "guides" since they are intended to offer signposts to the interviewers who should, and do, wander from the guide when the interviewees take the interviewers in unexpected directions.
Sources included in this bibliography/webography relate to the historical periods and issues covered in the two oral history narratives including immigration and ethnicity, the Depression and the New Deal, World War II and the Homefront, the McCarthy Era, American Student Activism, oral history and Brooklyn College and the City University of New York History.
The timeline offers a general outline of international, national, and local events that framed the historical episodes covered in this oral history website. The timeline also includes historical characters and occurences to which the interviewees referred. For example, several interviewees talked about supporting New York City Congressman Vito Marcantonio in the 1930s and 1940s.