Background / Conclusion /


Taken together these oral histories, clips from the lives of individuals, demonstrate the intersection of public and private history. They underscore that the narrators are historical actors, influencing their times while being affected by the historic events of their day. Furthermore, the narratives offer insights into what affects historical change. For as the narrators describe, their actions and choices were motivated by a range of concerns and identities. They were children of immigrants and refugees and of the New Deal who “were dragged to the parades” every time Roosevelt came to town. They were youthful, studious, playful, “gangsters.” They were intellectually engaged, socially conscious, artistically inclined, ambitious, tentative. Their historical memory, shaped by the present and the interviewers, also reflects the current identities they inhabit. Their accounts are rich and complicated because they are remembering their student adventures and experiences from the position of grown-ups, seniors, professionals, parents, grandparents, artists and activists. These oral documents, layered and unique, expand, deepen and change the historical record.