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Collecting Oral History

For information about how to collect and preserve valuable oral history, stories, and experiences, please refer to the website below. This resource, as well as the interviewing questionnaire, may help you in your own nursing conservancy efforts as you capture the stories of those around you that will enrich future generations.


The questionnaire below provides a list of sample questions that may be useful for those planning to interview nurses for historical purposes. This information has been graciously supplied by Margaret Souza, RN, BSN, California Hospital School of Nursing Class of 1955.

  1. How old were you when you first thought about becoming a nurse?
  2. When did you definitely decide to become a nurse?
  3. What/who influenced this decision (a person or persons, fictional or real, a war effect, etc.)?
  4. What schools of nursing did you consider?
  5. Why did you choose the one you did?
  6. What do you recall of the application process?
  7. Who interviewed you? One interviewer or more? Was it an individual or group interview? Where was the interview held? What was the interview like?
  8. What do you remember about moving into the dorm, if applicable? Did you have a roommate? Was she/he someone you already knew? What was your first encounter like?
  9. What are your early memories of your classes at the School? Who were your first teachers? First impressions?
  10. What are your first memories of your early clinical experiences?
  11. What are your memories of your capping ceremony?
  12. What were your favorite classes in nursing school? Why?
  13. Were there nurses or other hospital staff members who had a positive influence on you?
  14. What were your favorite floors to work on? Why? Least favorite? Why? What shifts did you like best? Least? Did you work for pay? Explain your experiences.
  15. Who were your favorite doctors? Head nurses? Supervisors? Nursing instructors? Hospital administrators?
  16. What are some favorite memories of dormitory life, if applicable? What social events stand out in your memory? Study hours? Lock out? House mothers? Chapel?
  17. What are your memories of your affiliations? Positive and negative?
  18. What do you remember about the cafeteria food? Your favorites? Dorm food/snacks?
  19. What do you remember of or about your graduation ceremony?
  20. What was your first job in nursing after graduation? Was it in the area of nursing that most interested you? Did you remain in this area of nursing throughout your career?
  21. What other areas of nursing did you pursue? What influences caused your job/career changes?
  22. Did you pursue further education after graduation? What degrees, certification, etc. did you earn? From what colleges, universities, educational programs, etc.?
  23. Did you pursue a career (careers) other than nursing? What and why?
  24. Did you join the military after graduation? Which branch? What was your rank? Did you travel in the course of your service? If so, where? What are a few of your most memorable experiences while in the service?
  25. What other experiences and/or achievements would you like to share (professional and/or personal)?


Would you like to help support the Western Conservancy of Nursing History? Do you have artifacts or archives you would like to donate? We would appreciate anything you can do to help! Please complete the form below so we can get to know you better.