Implementing Oral History into a Milwaukee Public High School Curriculum

Bronwen Risse-Connolly, Margarita Garcia Rojas & Paul Newcomb, “Implementing Oral History into a Milwaukee Public High School Curriculum”
Mentor: Rachel Buff, History

This workshop was a series of four classes working closely with upperclassmen at Audubon Technology and Communication High School to incorporate oral history methods in their US History class. The purpose is to deconstruct conventional ideas of what defines history. As undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, we have studied Ethnic Studies extensively and utilized oral histories in collaborative and individual projects. To supplement their US History education, we introduced stories and histories outside of the dominant narrative. With our assistance, high school students will conduct their own oral history interviews and produce an accompanying creative piece that will be displayed in a format of their choice. In Class One, our goal was to get students thinking about their everyday relationship with history. For Class Two, students explored three main questions: what is oral history, why is it important, and what makes it different from other ways of recording history? We presented examples of oral histories and explore possible themes with the students. For Class Three, students came to class with a theme, set of questions, and a person in mind to be interviewed. Themes included migration, education, and growing up. This session was an opportunity to workshop questions and gain familiarity with the mechanics of interviewing before interviewing an older family or community member for the project. Class Four was the final session and included a discussion and reflection on what the students learned. The final assignment will be an interpretive art piece that somehow expresses or interprets the students’ experience interviewing their family or community member.

Click on the thumbnail below to open the full sized poster in a new tab.

link to full poster


  1. Congratulations on this project! I looked through your powerpoints for your discussions with the students and I was so inspired. I can only think that your efforts to “decolonize” and “deconstruct” this high school history curriculum were empowering and inspiring for the students! It happens that my high school class is having a 40th Reunion this year and so there’s a website where people are sharing memories, etc. When I think back to those years, I would have been so thrilled to hear a different history than the packaged nonsense they handed out to us! Thank you Bronwen, Margarita, and Paul for taking this project on!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *