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Interviewing People who Grew up from 1950s to 1980s


In this assignment, you will interview someone who grew up in the period from the 1950s to the 1980s.


A. This assignment takes some preparation:

1. You will need to find someone who was born from 1945 to 1975, If you are unable to locate and interview someone from that time period, please let your instructor know as soon as possible. It’s best not to interview a parent, but another relative is fine.

2. You will need to prepare questions before you go into the interview. Using your textbook particularly  as a reference point, write down some notes about what historical events and trends from when that person was a teenager and adult. For someone growing up in the 1950s and 1960s for example, you could ask about the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam. For someone growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, you could ask about the women’s rights movement, gay rights, etc. Try to tailor your questions to when that person grew up. It wouldn’t be very helpful to ask someone who was born in 1965 about the Vietnam War for example. For someone who grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, you could ask about the Reagan years. For all interviewees, be sure to ask about the Cold War and what they remember of it. See a list of some suggestions below.

3. Tell your interview subject you will need about a half hour to go over the questions. You will need to take notes to prepare your final submission.

B. During the Interview

1. Find a distraction free place and time to talk to your subject. Take notes! Try to write down things that you can quote in your paper.

2. Ask the person to describe to you what life was like for himself/herself then and how s/he feels that things have changed since.

3. Ask that person about what they remember about key historical events (the ones you took notes on in A.2 above).

C. After the Interview

1. Write an introduction about your interview subject. Include their name, year born and where they grew up. Bonus if you include a photo of them.

2. In the body of your text, summarize what you learned from the person you interviewed. What historical events and trends affected them growing up, or do they think were important, and why?

3. Describe how this person’s life and experiences help us understand modern America, i.e. in the US up until recent times. Try to describe how their life is similar or not similar to what is in the textbook.

Submitting the Paper


You may submit this assignment late (with points deduction) by Dec. 3. But no assignments will be accepted after Dec. 3. The paper should be about 1,000-1,500 words long. You don’t need to use citations in this assignment other than telling me who the interviewee is at the beginning.

I’m using a different rubric for this assignment than I have for the other two. You will be graded on:

20% proper grammar, spelling, syntax, paragraph structure, etc.

40% on how well you relate this person’s life to the “real history?” In other words, do you ask questions that match the time period when that person grew up? For instance, you compare their experiences with civil rights, or the Cold War, with the textbook.

40% on how well you relate how your interview with this person helps you understand modern America and how things have changed.

Suggested Topics

You should always ask specific questions but you can use these topics to think of questions. Feel free to come up with your own

The Cold War

America’s role in world affairs

Race relations (not just civil rights, but how race relations have changed)

Women’s rights and changing gender roles

Gay/Lesbian rights


Immigration and how it has changed

Major domestic issues–work, changes in family life for example

Popular culture, music, entertainment

Technology changes

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Category: Sample Questions