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1940 Census and an interview with Mama

Printouts from the 1940 census and recorders I used to capture my mother's memories from 1940. [contains iPad info] My Mama pointed to a name on the page of the 1940 census. “This is the boy who – at age 9 – told me the facts of life.”

She pointed to another name. “This was the best teacher I ever had. Ever. And I had some good teachers.”

Her fingers traced a triangle shape on the map where two streets intersected. “This is where we played baseball. There were only two bases. See? First base, Second base, Home.”

These are some of the stories that came out when I interviewed Mama about her memories of growing up. I used the 1940 Census as an oral history question generator and memory sparker.

This article is my description of what I did to use the 1940 Census as the inspiration for an oral history interview. I describe it all – from finding the census pages, to working with printing out image data, to what I used for my audio setup, to interview techniques, to a listing of all the topics discussed, to some iPad file transfer tricks and lessons learned. More

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