The Chapman-Woodbury Oral History Program is a unique high school history program founded at Lausanne Collegiate School in 2003. In this program students have been creating their own primary sources in history by going out into the Memphis community and beyond to interview people who participated in significant historical events. Completed interviews are then deposited with the Library of Congress
The 2012-2013 U.S. History and Modern World History classes worked very hard with Dr. Johnson and the many veterans, holocaust survivors, Civil Rights Movement protesters and others across Memphis Tenn. who allowed students to interview them this year. We completed thirty-four oral history interviews in total. Students enjoyed hearing their stories and learning more about history than what can be learned from a textbook. For those that gave us permission, these interviews will be submitted to the Library of Congress where they will be on the library’s database.
This year’s program included three events: The Ninth Annual Veterans Day Program which was performed at the school and at Kirby Pines Retirement Community in conjunction with Lausanne’s band and choir in November right before Veterans Day; the First Annual Songs of Freedom Concert and Civil Rights Celebration in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held in conjunction with Lausanne’s choirs before the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday; and the Ninth Annual “Our Stories” Celebration honoring all of the participants in this year's oral history program held in May.
During each of these events montages of clips were played from the interviews that were collected this year, and in May student-created documentaries that used clips from those interviews as primary sources were also shown. The students themselves also came to the stage and related how the oral history interviews they did intersected with the history they learned in the classroom and how many of them brought up their interviews during our socratic discussions in the classroom to add a new dimension to our classroom discussions of topics like the assault on Iwo Jima during World War II, clearing the tunnels of Cu Chi during the war in Vietnam, the horrors of Auschwitz during the Holocaust and the fight to desegregate Little Rock Central High School by the Little Rock Nine.
Our Stories Program
The stories that students have collected over the past few years have expanded from our interviews of veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm, as in previous years, to include stories from those who participated in the Civil Rights Movement, those who survived the Holocaust, those who experienced the Great Depression, Taiwanese civilians who experienced the Japanese occupation of their island before World War II and stories of immigration to the United States.
Students worked hard this year to prepare well researched interview guides, using the resources available in the Lausanne library and in its online databases. They then went and interviewed veterans, pioneers in the civil rights movement and many others using different means of technology.