Brooklyn College Vietnam Oral History Project Questions

Brooklyn College Vietnam Oral History Project Questions

The questions on this list are for informational purposes only, and give a sense of the kinds of questions that I asked when conducting my Vietnam oral histories. Some of these questions may not have been asked in an individual interview, and others not on the sheet could have been included. I treat oral history as a special form of conversation, one that can flow in a wide range of directions.

Where were you born?


Tell about your neighborhood

Growing up
Ethnic mix
Class background
What did the other parents in the neighborhood do?

What did other kids want to do?
What did they do?
Were you different/the same as the other kids in this?

What did you do for entertainment?
What did you play? Why?

What was the area like physically?
How did your home compare to other homes in the neighborhood?

What was schooling like?
Were did you go to school?
What was your attitude toward school?
Did they teach patriotism (?)
Did you take it seriously?
Were you patriotic?

Parent’s generation
Any parents WWII vets? (or other wars)
What did they tell you about that war?
Did your dad or mom take any lessons from that war?
Did they apply those lessons to their analysis of Vietnam?
How did they react to your actions/behaviors/beliefs about the war?
Was the generation gap a reality in your house?
Why/why not?

What were your ideas about WWII?
What did you think of war generally?
What influenced your thinking about war?
Movies? John Wayne?

What was our relationship with your parents like?
What values did you learn from your parents?
Is there a connection between the values they taught you and your actions regarding VN?

Can you tell me about the central ideas and beliefs that drove your thinking and actions with regard to the war?
How common were these ideas?
Did many in your group hold them?

Tell about your parents politics?
Politically active? Unions?
Did you discuss political issues in the house?
Did you learn your politics from them?

Hw did your own personal politics form?
What were the most important influences on you political views? Why?

Do you remember when you first heard about VN
How did you enter the service?

What was the experience of being drafted like
Did you remember getting your raft notice
Were other kids getting their notices at the same time
Was your reaction similar to or different from that of others

Did you ever think of going to Canada
What did you think of those who made that choice

What was the experience of Whitehall street like
Describe the experience for me

where did you go to boot camp
What was that like
What was the most memorable experience of camp
Do you remember the other men you went to boot camp with
How did you get through it?

After boot camp, where did you go?
What was your MOS

How did you get to VN
Can you describe the experience of arriving in VN for me

How did you stay in touch with your family?
What was the food like?
Did you have plenty of supplies?
Did you feel pressure or stress?
Was there something special you did for “good luck”?
How did people entertain themselves?
Were there entertainers?
What did you do when on leave?
Where did you travel while in the service?
Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual event?
What were some of the pranks that you or others would pull?
Do you have photographs?
Who are the people in the photographs?
What did you think of officers or fellow soldiers?
Did you keep a personal diary?
What was it like to come home?
What kind of a reception did you get?
How do you explain that reception?
What caused people to reject you and veterans generally?
How did your family react to you?
What made them react in that way?

How have your children been affected by the war
What have you told them about your experiences
Have you used your experience in any way to shape the way you elect to raise your children
Has you relationship with your children been affected by the war?
If we had a war of similar scale now, would you urge them to serve?
Why, why not?


How did you feel about the war in Vietnam? Did you support it or not? Why?
Was the war justified?
Why do you think this nation got involved there?
Was it worth the sacrifice?
Would you fight again?

How did/do you feel about the people who did not support the war?

Did you succeed or fail as a soldier?

Do you think this country behaved in a proper way in Vietnam?

How has your life been changed by the VN experience
Did your neighborhood change
Do you think Brooklyn changed

Did the city change?

What was the moral significance of the war?
What was its political significance?

What do you do to remember those events? (attend memorials, etc.?)

How should this country act with respect to Vietnam? The war? The veterans?