By Lisa Batchelder-Hetrick
When we review history, we look at pictures, read stories, and investigate old documents to help us understand the past. In 2021, our modern technology provides a vast library of records that allow students and enthusiasts to experience history in new ways. In the absences of this technology, teaching history has relied on the voices of real people willing to share their stories. The quality of these recordings helps history come to life.
As we look at our history, it is a rare treasure to find stories told in the actual voices of those who lived it. In the following ABC News episode of Nightline (1999), Ted Koppel, through interviews captured in the 1930s and 1940s, shares stories of enslaved people. Their voices expose the realities of slavery in the history of the United States.
It is impossible to imagine what it was like living through slavery, but through these interviews, we are given a powerful glimpse of this horrible time in our history. Those being interviewed are nearing the end of their lives, and the stories they are telling are from their childhoods. Just imagine, those who were marginalized for most of their lives, have been given a chance to be heard. There is so much to learn from these voices from the past.
As you watch this video, listen to the crackle of the recordings, listen to the reactions of the interviewers, and listen to voices speaking their truth.
Videos and resources like this will be available in our new units coming soon. If you learned anything use our activity submission form available in all our units to share what you’ve learned.