For your family, was the postwar period (1945-1960) a happy time of prosperity,
a frightening period of cold war, or was it characterized some other way?
To support your argument, get some family stories about this era. The following
questions should elicit family stories that will be useful to you. Composing
your own questions might be even more successful, especially if you base those
questions on your knowledge of your family chronology and history.
- Did your family place special emphasis on children or on the suburbs
during the Fifties?
- What opinions did people in your family have about Dr. Spock's Baby and
- What did your family expect women to be like in the 1950s? What did they expect women to do?
- When did your family get their first television?
- What did your family like to watch on television? Did they often invite people over to watch tv? Were there special treats to go with television, or rules about watching it?
- What does your family remember about Sputnik?
- How did your family feel about communism in the postwar period?
- What does your family remember about Joseph McCarthy?
- Did anyone in your family learn to "duck and cover" at school?
- Would you say your family was more like or more unlike the Nelsons in The
Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet?
- Did anyone in your family serve in Korea? in occupied Japan or Germany?
If so, what was it like?
- How did veterans in your family feel about coming home for the first time
after the war?
- Did anyone in your family take advantage of the GI Bill?
More general questions for further conversation:
- Choose someone in your family that your informant knew but whom you've never met (your informant's grandmother, say).
When your informant thinks about this person, what does he/she see in her
mind's eye? What kind of clothing is the person wearing? Where is the person,
and what is the person doing?
- What were the person's jobs? favorite leisure activities?
- What did your informant and this person do when they were together? Did your informant
help with chores? Did the person entertain him/her?
- Does your informant think he or she is more like or more unlike this person?