Below is a list of the types of questions you are going to want to ask your interviewee. The first set of questions is for your practice round with a sibling or classmate. The second set of questions is for your real interview with an adult. The questions here are geared towards someone who lived in or near Scottsville, but wherever you see the work Scottsville you can replace it with the town or surrounding counties that your interviewee lives in.
Questions for the PRACTICE interview:
If at any point in your interview, your interviewee wants to start talking about a story he or she remembers, let them. This will add a whole bunch of flavor to your oral history.
Offer your interviewee some sort of refreshment, like a juice box or water cup. This will also help get them relaxed. Ask them ahead of time when you are setting up the interview to bring in some pictures to share from some important times in their life.
What is your full name? When and where were you born? What are the names of your mother, father, siblings?
How long have you lived in Scottsville (or area you live in now)? If you have moved around, where else have you lived?
What grade are you in?
When did you lose your first tooth? Did you get money from the tooth fairy or try to pull your tooth out early?
Have you ever had the chicken pox? What was that experience like? Do you remember it?
What is the earliest birthday party you can remember? Do you remember the cake and who was there? How old were you for this party?
Have you ever gotten in trouble for doing something bad? What was your punishment? Did you learn your lesson?
What do you remember about starting school for the first time?
What does your family do for holidays? Do you have any family reunions to go to each year?
Where have you gone on vacation? Have you ever been out of the country? Have you been on an airplane? What were those experiences like?
What is the best part about living in Scottsville and going to school at ___________? What is the worst part?
Questions for the REAL interview:
Now you are ready for the real thing! Here are the types of questions that the oral historians at the Scottsville Museum use. If you live somewhere other than Scottsville you can alter these questions to make them pertain better to your town or county.
This interview is probably going to take a little bit longer, so set aside some extra time. Make sure you offer your interviewee some sort of refreshment, like water or juice and maybe even some cookies if you have them. GOOD LUCK!
What is your full name (include maiden name for women)? When and where were you born? What are the names of your mother, father, siblings? If married, what is your spouse’s name?
- How long have you lived in Scottsville (or area you live in now) or the surrounding area?
- What county did you live in? If not within Scottsville town limits, how far out of town did you live? How did you travel to Scottsville? (by car, train, or horse)
- What was your father’s occupation and where did he work? If your mother worked outside your home, what was her job and where did she work?
- What school(s) did you attend? Describe your favorite teachers and your memories of attending school. Who were some of your classmates? How did you get to school?
- What highlights do you remember about the town of Scottsville as you were growing up? [These highlights might include memories of various stores, churches, theaters, ballrooms, post office, hotels, restaurants, special events around holidays, interesting people, etc.] More specific questions might include:
- What businesses do you remember in town as you were growing up? Where where they located? Who operated them? What did they sell or what services did they provide?
- What church did your family attend when you were growing up in Scottsville? Who was its pastor?
- What are your memories of the Scottsville post office as you grew up? Where was the post office located and who was its postmaster? When was the day’s mail available for pickup at the post office, or if you lived outside of town, how often was mail delivered to your home?
- Who were the doctors/dentists in Scottsville when you were growing up? [They may have been the same person when your grandparents were younger] Tell me about them.
- Were there fairs, 4th of July celebrations, circus visits, sporting events, etc. that you enjoyed during your childhood? What are your memories of these events?
- What organizations did you and your family belong to: garden clubs, 4H club, Masons, sporting, Boy Scouts, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, church group
- What people in the area influenced your childhood and your look on life? [Did you have any role models?]
- What is your fondest memory of your childhood?
- Did you have access to the James River? [If not in Scottsville, pick some other important feature, such as Washington, D.C., or a big mountain or other river] What are your memories?
- Did you have access to the railroad? What memories do you have of it?
- Can you describe how World War II impacted you and your family? [You can also ask about the Vietnam, Korean, or Gulf Wars, but they may or may not want to talk about these things.]
- What is the best part of Scottsville? What is/was the worst part about the town?