Intro Lesson About

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Lesson 7

Lesson 8


Lesson 7: Memories

Lesson at a glance

You'll explore the historical transformation of your land division since the turn of the 20th century, paying special attention to events that are still remembered by living persons. This includes changes in land use, land ownership, economics, population dynamics, and any special local events that defined the area.


Oral history is a way of gathering and preserving historical information through interviews with participants in past events and ways of life. It is the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word.

The Memories chapter is the most "oral history" chapter in the Pacific Worlds website. In this lesson you will do oral history learning about the past by talking with people who were there, or talking with people who heard the stories of people who were there.


This lesson brings you up to the present. It prepares you for the final Onwards lesson, where we look at present-day issues and activities.

There are some major themes in 20th century Pacific Island history that are likely to be found widely, for example, WWII, and post-war changes. These are particularly useful for considering how such shared experiences actually differed according to where they happened: Hawai'i, Guam, Yap, Fiji, for example.

Key Concepts: Oral History, modernization, demographics, economic activities.

Lesson Outcomes: You will:

  • develop a chronology of major 20th-century events and changes in their island entity and land division;
  • identify special historical events important to their area;
  • compare the changes within their area with those in other parts of the Pacific;
  • grasp the principle of oral history as an approach to collecting data.


  • History books and resources for your island entity
  • Books on the War in the Pacific
  • Historical maps of your area showing land use


Exercise 1: Chronology
Website: Memories > Chronology

Using historical materials your island entity,make a chronology of major events. You can choose any point as your starting point, such as the arrival of the first explorers, or the unification of your island group.


  • what made you decide what was a major event and what was not
  • why your chronology starts and ends when it does


Distinguish different types of major events: for example, epidemics, natural disasters, visits by important figures, revolts or uprisings, and so on. Use these different types of events to consider how the history of your island entity was shaped by various forces.

Which is better: written history or oral history? Discuss.


Exercise 2: Early 20th Century
Website: Memories

Using oral and/or written historical materials, think about the way of life in your island entity in the early decades of the 20th century: how different was it from now? Be specific: what was the major economic activity(s)? What did most people do for a living?

What was the political status of your entity?

What was the level of technology, for example, for transportation?



Exercise 3: Oral History
Website: Memories

Working alone or with your friends use a tape or Mini-Disk recorder to interview an older relative or local elder, about their lives. Ask specific questions, such as:

Remembering WWII (if the interviewee is old enough), and/or the post-war years, and how things changed;

What major changes have they seen in their lives? You can use events from your chronology to prompt them, if necessary, to think about the impact of specific, larger-scale events like Independence or change of political status;

What sort of work did people do in the "old days" ? What did they do for food?

How did one get around the island?

Exercise 4: World War II and after
Website: Memories > WWII (if available)

If you obtained information about WWII in your area, compare these stories to those from other websites.

What about changes after the War? What were the major forces of change?

How effective have they been?

How much post-war change came from local, indigenous forces, and how much came from outside?

Exercise 5: Land Use

Using historical maps of your area (if available), discuss the changes of land use in your area for the period that your maps cover.

Put these changes into the context of the history you have seen in the previous exercises. Consider how historical forces manifest in actual changes on the land.



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