Last weekend I drove the two and a half hours from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Parsippany, New Jersey for the purpose of conducting an oral history interview with my 100-year-old grandfather.
As a history professor, I regularly teach a course entitled “Immigrant America.” In this course, students are required to do a taped interview with an immigrant and write an eight-page paper about how the experience of this particular person illustrates some aspect of the American immigrant experience.
I talk a lot about my grandfather in that course. He came to the United States from the tiny village of San Felice, Italy in 1913. He was 3 years old. My grandfather has witnessed much of “The American Century,” a phrase used by historians to describe the rise of American power in the 20th century.
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