Using Primary Sources to Learn
of the Life of Studs Terkel, His Interviews, and Individual Stories
of WWII Veterans
||History, Language Arts, Social Studies
Academic Content Standards
is the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora,
Colorado, a site that provides K-12 academic standards.
a site that addresses the academic standards of over 40 states.
to teachers: The following lesson materials are
designed to provide teachers with several choices about
the content and length of the lessons. As the title indicates,
teachers may choose to have students study: (i) The life
of Studs Terkel.(ii)Studs Terkel's interviews and interview
practice (iii)The individual stories of WWII veterans who
have been interviewed and (iv) Any combination of the above.
Attached to the lesson are additional resources for further
lessons that can serve as extension materials/ activities.
- Subject indexed audio excerpts of interviews from Studs Terkel's
archives. (provided below)
- Classroom chalkboard
- American history resources with information on a wide range of
20th century events (world history textbooks, encyclopedias, 20th
century references from your school library, computers with Internet
Overview of Lesson Plan
Students will listen to selected excerpts about Studs Terkel.
They will investigate, through his interviews and personal reflections,
the impact of war on individuals. Listening to excerpts of interviews
(and reading letters) of WWII soldiers, students will appreciate
the effect of war on the soldiers' lives and families. The lesson
begins with students engaging in research on the life of Studs
1) Research the life of Studs Terkel.
2) Explore the role of an interviewer by studying Studs Terkel's
interview skills and engaging in authentic interviews with individuals
who remember their war experiences.
3) Use interview skills and strategies to interview one another
about their own lives and families.
4) Develop an appreciation of the perspectives of veterans who participated
Activities / Procedures
A. Studs Terkel
1. Beginning with Studs
Terkel's web site, have the students discover/explore the
life of Studs Terkel.
2. After reading the articles, what impressions have the students
developed about Studs Terkel? Is his real name Studs Terkel? What
is the significance of the red striped shirt and the red socks
that Studs Terkel is known for?
3. Drawing from newspaper articles, radio and TV programs, celebrating
the life of Studs Terkel, students are asked to develop a chronology
of his life.
4. Develop a list of general questions to ask interviewees about
their impressions of the impact of war on families and individuals.
1. Students will present their interviews and identify the various
interview skills and strategies they employed in preparing their
Evaluating the Process of the Interview.
- How did Studs get this person to tell their story?
- What types of questions do you think he asked?
- What kind of equipment do you think he used?
- How many ways can we record interviews?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of different methods?
- What kinds of things do you think an interviewer should avoid
- What can an interviewer do to keep his or her subject on track?
B. War Veterans
1. As a class, listen to the excerpts from the
Studs Terkel archives:
2. Develop a list of questions that could be
asked in interviews about individual's impressions on the impact
of war on families and individuals.
3. Write a journal entry describing the effect
war had on Eugene Bislech as he narrates his experience in the
interview with Studs Terkel.
4. Working in small groups, and using the internet,
and excerpts from Studs Terkel's book "The Good War: An Oral
History of World War II" read descriptions of other individuals'
expressions of the impact of war on their lives.
Choosing a letter of one of the individuals, develop a presentation
around his/her life and war experiences. Given the information
shared in the letter, reconstruct as much of the writer's circumstances
as possible. For example, what was happening in the war at the
time the letter was written? Where was the individual stationed?
What events does the writer recount?
Doing Oral History
- Have the class choose a subject that relates to one of Studs
- Have the class develop a list of interview questions based
upon the chosen subject/topic. (Questions should be open ended,
as to avoid yes/no answers.)
- Organized in pairs, have students interview one another. Each
pair should present the information gathered from the interviews.
- Lead a discussion that allows students to synthesize the themes
- If you chose to follow the same subject that the Studs Terkel
excerpt focused on, compare and contrast the information that
you gathered with the information he collected.