Notice: Undefined variable: now in /htdocs/www/mpcp/core/core.functions.php on line 1901

Oral history video offered to classroom teachers


HELENA, Montana - August 22 (Montana Heritage Project)

Communities that are looking for ways to connect with their teenagers should think about sponsoring oral history projects. Teachers who are tired of research papers plagiarized from the internet should consider having students use oral history to research topics that havenít yet been written about. School administrators hunting for ways to raise academic standards should pay attention to research that indicates students work harder on projects that have real world purposes.

There are many good reasons to make oral history more central to the school curriculum. Now thereís help for those who want to get started: a video guide to planning and implementing oral history projects that will be sent free to classroom teachers in Montana who request it.

The 40-minute DVD, When History Speaks, was produced by the Montana Heritage Project in partnership with the Library of Congress and the Montana Historical Society, with funding provided by the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation.

Mike Umphrey, Director of the Montana Heritage Project, believes that doing oral interview projects helps teachers and students think in fresh ways about the power of learning. “Kids tend to come alive when they head out into the community and begin asking questions about why things are the way they are.

“A good oral history project is about asking questions, and then asking better questions,” Umphrey said. “It is about searching for answers, and then searching for better answers.”

“Once they have real questions, students can be encouraged to pursue answers everywhere. They can read old newspapers, magazine articles, letters, and books. They can go places and walk around, looking and thinking. They can follow links on web sites. A good oral history project involves more than doing interviews. It includes preliminary research in the library and it includes creating final products such as articles, web pages, and multimedia programs that allow kids to make gifts of scholarship back to the community.”

When History Speaks covers the basics of oral history: planning a project, doing preliminary research, forming a set of questions, choosing equipment, conducting an interview, using a microphone effectively, and transcribing and archiving final products. A text version is available for free download on the internet:

The Montana Heritage Project is a state-wide professional community of high school teachers committed to passing on the best of our cultural heritage, including a commitment to good writing, a love of literature, and a desire to use education to serve society in specific and local ways.

To order the When History Speaks DVD, email Katherine Mitchell at the Montana Heritage Project office in St. Ignatius.

For more information about the Project, visit

Additional materials available online:

Interview with Michael L. Umphrey

Photographs of Oral History in the Montana Heritage Project

Interview Contact: Michael L. Umphrey
Director, Montana Heritage Project
Telephone: 406-745-2600
Fax: 406-745-2757


Marcella Sherfy
Education Director
Telephone: 406-444-1759
fax: 406-745-2696

The Montana Heritage Project
153 South Main
PO Box 672
St. Ignatius, Montana 59865

The Montana Heritage Project
Montana Historical Society Building
225 North Roberts
Helena, Montana 59620

# # #

Posted by on 08/21 at 09:57 PM






Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

Next entry: Beginnings, middles and ends (for writers)

Previous entry: New blog to promote 2006 Institute

<< Back to teacherlore home