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Historical Interviews

compliments of 4th graders

at the Joseph Lee School

Presented by Inquiry Unlimited

Abigail Smith Adams (1744 - 1818) by Hannah R.

Abigail Smith was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts on November 11, 1744. Abigail did not have lots of friends. When she went to her grandmother's house in Boston, she had five very close friends. When Abigail was fifteen years old, she met her future husband. His name was John Adams. He was 24 years old. She was seventeen years old the next time that they saw each other. John thought that Abigail Smith was more grown-up so he asked for her hand in marriage. She said yes. They got married by her father who was a minister. John was away doing law work most of the time after he and Abigail got married so they wrote a lot of letters to each other. Abigail sometimes headed her letters "My Dearest Friend," and sometimes he headed his, "Miss Adorable." Abigail's husband became the second president of the United States, and her son, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth president of the United States. She died on October 28, 1818.

If I were to interview Abigail Adams, the questions and answers might go like this:
Hannah: When you were growing up, why was learning so important to you?
Abigail: I thought that girls should have the same rights as boys. Especially the rights to read and write.
Hannah: Why were your friends so important to you?
Abigail: My friends were important to me because I didn't have many friends in Weymouth and my friends lived in Boston.
Hannah: You and your husband, John Adams, wrote to each other. When you did write, what was the heading of your letters?
Abigail: I headed my letters, "My dearest friend." Sometimes John headed his, "Miss Adorable."
Hannah: Your husband and your son were both presidents of the United States. Which presidents were they?
Abigail: My husband was the second president and my son, John Quincy, was the sixth president.


Sabin, Francene. Young Abigail Adams. New York: Troll Associates, 1992.
World Book Encyclopedia. Volume 1, pages 32 - 33, 1993.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 - 1910) by Lily J.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in 1821 in England. When she was eight years old, she decided to become a doctor because she saw many babyies and people dying of illnesses and no one was doing anything about them. She was determined to become a doctor. When her brother and sisters were playing outside she was inside learning new things.

When she was older, she and her two sisters asked her father things in poems. Her brother was never involved. Her father would write poems back to them with the answers to their questions.

A couple of years later, her father's sugar plant was losing money, so he decided they were moving to America. Elizabeth was heart broken when she heard they were moving. She didn't want to leave. Her father was certain they were going to America.When they were on the boat to America, she saw an awful disease going around named cholera. Many people started dying. She was really determined now to become a doctor.

When they got to America, her mother opened a school for children who wouldn't get accepted to other schools. Elizabeth worked to be a teacher. When she was a teacher, she learned even more. After Elizabeth taught, she was old enough to go to college. She tried to get into medical schools, and finally one accepted her. She went to medical school in New York. Some teachers wouldn't let her into their classrooms because she was a woman and they did not take her seriously. She graduated with high honors.

She established a clinic and hospital. It was called The Infirmary for Women and Children. She started a medical school for women. She helped train nurses for the Civil War. She wrote some books that were on heath and preventing diseases.

She died in 1910 . She was eighty-nine years old.

If I were to interview Elizabeth Blackwell, the questions and answers might go like this:
Lily: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
Elizabeth: When I was young I saw many babies and people dying of illnesses and nobody seemed to be doing anything about it.
Lily: How did you prepare to become a good doctor?
Elizabeth: I tried to learn a lot of new things. I was determined to become a doctor.


Sabin, Francene. Elizabeth Blackwell: First Woman Doctor. New York:Troll Associates, 1982.
World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book Inc., 1993.

Helen Keller (1880 - 1968) by Breanna J.

Helen Adams Keller was born June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She died June 1, 1968. Helen was a lecturer and an author. She became blind and deaf at the age of 19 months after a brain fever. For many years, the only way she communicated was if she threw a tantrum or if she laughed.

Later in life, Helen wrote papers on a special typewriter. In 1904, Helen graduated from Radcliffe College. When she died she was more than 90 years old.

If I were to interview Helen Keller, the questions and answers might go like this:
Breanna: When you were younger, why were you so mean to Annie Sullivan when she was trying to help you?
Helen: I was reacting like that because she was a stranger and I didn't know her.
Breanna: How did your parents deal with your disability?
Helen: They tried their best to do whatever they could for me.
Breanna: How did you have enough courage to go to Radcliffe College if you were deaf and blind and the other people were not?
Helen: I had faith in myself and I knew I could work to my fullest ability.
Breanna: How did you become the best deaf blind person in the world?
Helen: It was hard but I could read and do things other people could do. I couldn't hear but Annie spelled in my hand and she wrote things for me.
Breanna: When Annie died, how did you feel?
Helen: I was sad because she was my eyes and my ears. She was a major person in my life.


Davidson, Margaret. Helen Keller. NY: Scholastic, 1969.
World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 11, page 255, 1993.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) by Nicole M.

Rachel Carson was born on May 27,1907 in Springdale, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She wrote several science books named "The Sea Around Us" (1951) and "The Silent Spring" (1962). The books helped her stimulate environmental protection measures. Rachel Carson was against a spray called DDT because it killed animals and it poisoned things.

Rachel Carson died on April 14, 1964.


Sabin, Francene. Rachel Carson: Friend of the Earth. New York: Troll Associates, 1993.
World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 250, 1993.

Amelia Earhart (1897-1937?) by Michael S.

Amelia Earhart was born on July 24,1897 in Atchison, Kansas. She became the first women pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air. She was also the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), which was awarded to her by the U.S. Congress. She developed an interest in flying while working as a nurse's aide in Canada in 1918 during World War I. By 1922, she received a pilot's license and had begun entering flying meets. In 1928, Earhart was the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air with a passenger on a flight from Trepassey, Newfoundland. Amelia started a little group called, "Ninety Nines," an international organization for women pilots. In 1937, Amelia vanished on a flight around the world near the Howland Islands. Fred Noonan disappeared with her.


World Book Encyclopedia, Volume E, page 14, 1993.
Sabin, Francene. Amelia Earhart Adventures in the Sky. New York: Troll Associates, 1983.

Rosa Parks (1913 - ) by Danielle W.

In 1955 Rosa Parks was a black woman in Montgomery, Alabama who refused to give up her bus seat to a white person. She was tired and on her way home from work and refused to give up her seat in the middle of the bus. The front of the bus was reserved for white people. The law required blacks to leave the middle rows when all seats in the front rows were taken and whites wanted to sit in the middle. Because of what she did, Rosa started the bus boycott in 1955 in Montgomery.

If I could interview Rosa Parks, it might go like this:
Danielle: Why didn't you want to give up your seat on the bus in Montgomery in 1955?
Parks: I was tired from working in the department store. When I got on the bus, there was a seat for me so I sat down. They needed the seat but I didn't want to get up. I told the bus driver to go ahead and call the police.
Danielle: Didn't you know thay would put you in jail and make you pay a fine?
Parks: I was tired and I wasn't going to move for any white person. I was sitting there first.
Danielle: If you weren't involved with the NAACP would you have given up your seat?
Parks: No. I wouldn't have given up my seat because I was sitting there first.
Danielle: How did your parent's divorce affect you in later life?
Parks: It affected me because my husband and I decided not to have children because if we ever got divorced we didn't want them to grow up in a divorced family.


Brandt, Keith. Rosa Parks Fights for Freedom. New York: Troll Associates, 1993.
The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 15, pages 171-172, 1993.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862 - 1931) by Paul T.

Ida Wells lived in Holy Springs, Missouri. In 1884, she moved to Memphis, Tennessee. There she worked for a newspaper called "Free Speech." After Wells' three friends got lynched, she looked into that concept and other violence against blacks. Soon she moved to Chicago. There she met Ferdinand Barnett and got married. In 1909, Ida helped establish the N.A.A.C.P. She died twenty-two years later in 1931.

If I were to interview Ida Wells the questions and answers might go like this:

Paul: What is one of the things you did to end lynching?
Ida: One of the things was that I lead marches and conferences against lynching.
Paul: When you were living in the 1800s, what made you protest against lynching even though you knew you might get lynched yourself?
Ida: At that time I wanted safety for blacks.
Paul: Why did you put an end to lynching?
Ida: Lynching had harmed blacks long enough. It was time to put an end to lynching.
Paul: What does the establishment, the N.A.A.C.P. stand for?
Ida: It stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


Freedman, Suzanne. Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the Anti-Lynching Crusade. CN: Millbrook Press, 1932.
World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 21, page 196, 1993.

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Created in 1997. Last modified: February 28, 2017. Copyright 1999 - Marjorie Duby. All rights reserved.
The original works contained on these pages may not be duplicated without expressed written permission of Marjorie Duby, except where otherwise noted. All rights reserved.