Are you looking for primary source material that will get your students excited about history, social studies, political science or a myriad of other topics? Do you want to break away from the textbook in ways that will help bring history to life for your students? Well, look no further.
The ALPL Oral History Program has a wealth of fascinating interviews that can provide your students with first-hand accounts that will enrich their learning experience. To get you started with our collection, we’ve developed several teacher resource guides that we hope will spark your curiosity and stimulate your creativity.
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Agriculture in the Midwest
This lesson will give students a close-up view of how agriculture is practiced in Illinois and the Midwest. By listening to first-hand accounts from farmers, elementary students will better understand what farming is like in Illinois and how it has changed with technological innovation in the last 100 years.
Big Jim: The Campaign Style of Illinois' Longest-Serving Governor
Lesson Plans (Coming Soon)
The ALPL Oral History Program is working on an exciting project focused on the governorship of James R. Thompson, who served as governor from 1977 through January 1991. Illinois' longest-serving governor, Thompson spent 14 years in office and won four gubernatorial elections.
In this lesson, students will examine whether Thompson's sometimes unconventional campaign tactics are appropriate for a modern campaign.
Students will learn about his charismatic campaign style, and be able to compare that style to two opponents, Michael Bakalis and Adlai Stevenson III, both of whom were critical of Thompson's "over the top" techniques.
Doing Oral Histories
This lesson plan is designed to help high school teachers train their students on how to conduct high-quality oral history interviews. Upon completion of this exercise, students will be able to conduct an oral history interview as part of a class project.
The ERA Fight in Illinois
This lesson dives into the heart of the ERA battle in Illinois. Because Illinois was a “swing state” in the passage of the ERA, Illinois drew intense national attention during the late 70s and early 80s. The lesson includes interviews with women on both sides of the fight, from Senator Dawn Clark Netsch, a leader of the Pro ERA fight in the Illinois Senate, to Phyllis Schalafly, the national leader of STOP ERA, who hailed from Alton, Illinois. Students will get to listen to first hand accounts of activism, and learn about the history of the women’s rights movement.
The Evolution of Agriculture
The family farm has changed tremendously during the twentieth century and continues to evolve in the twenty-first century, due to advances in science and technology, the ever changing American marketplace, and events on the world stage. The interviewees featured in this lesson plan grew up on family farms and have watched farming evolve with time. The interviews touch on the themes of rural communities, education, business, technology, the future, and the relationship between the government and agriculture.
Prisoners of War
This lesson will help students explore one of the ugliest faces of war in the twentieth century. Students will compare the experiences of POWs in different wars and how treatment differed based on such factors as the nation holding the prisoner, when during the war the POW was captured, a POW’s rank, and the political context of the war.
Title IX: A Change for Public Education
When Title IX was passed in 1972, it changed the way that government funded educational institutions ran forever. Many students today don’t realize the impact that the Title IX legislation continues to have on their experience in school and sports. This lesson gives students a chance to listen to firsthand account of how the legislation impacted students, and is a great way to bridge the content areas of history, government, and physical education.
Truman's Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb
The use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II was a controversial choice that remains a topic of debate today. This lesson will allow students to take part in the debate, and learn more about the facts and opinions that went into making the decision, as well as the reactions of veterans of the war to the use of the bomb.
A Veteran's Perspective
Students can listen to or read our veteran's first-hand accounts of their wartime experiencs, and by doing so, enhance their knowledge and understanding of contemporary American history. What was it like to be at Pearl Harbor on that infamous day, December, 1941, to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, or to land on the volcanic beaches of Iwo Jima? What lessons can be learned from a survivor of the fight at the Chosin Reservoir (Korean War), or to be a prisoner of the Chinese in North Korea? How did veterans of the Vietnam War feel about their war, about the enemy they faced in Nam, and about the protestors they encountered when they came back home?
Having problems with one of our interviews? Do you have suggestions for future interview candidates, or need advice for doing your own interview project? We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Oral History, ALPLM
112 North 6th Street
Springfield, IL 62701