The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford received funding from the Jeffrey Hoffman Family to initiate an educational oral history project entitled “Family History on the Road”. The Society also received a community grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. The project highlights the importance and value of documenting and preserving family history. It also helps students understand their past by promoting Jewish continuity and share their family story within our community archive for future generations.
The Society has provided training for Greater Hartford synagogue and day school educators to work with their middle-school students on how to conduct an oral history interview. Specially designed handbooks were created that guide the families through the process and include sample questions and interviewing tips. Ongoing support and contact by the project coordinator is provided for the teachers throughout the 3-4 week curriculum. For the initial session, parents and students come together for an introduction and explanation of the project and a sharing of meaningful family artifacts and stories. After the students interview a selected family member, they can choose a format to share interview highlights and what they learned from the experience, hopefully with their synagogue or school community as well as the larger community. A copy of the interview will be placed in the Family History Collection of the Hoffman Archive within the Society’s community repository.
The Society hopes to encourage all families in our community today, whether or not they are originally from this area, to take part in this process. The students involved in this project are creating their own Hartford roots to be passed down to their descendants. This unique opportunity enables students to experience the process of learning to interview, while learning the importance and understanding of their place in their family’s ongoing history and why it is necessary to preserve this history for the next generation.