In 1975, Joan embarked on an oral history of the American immigrant experience, inspired by a citizenship ceremony she witnessed while researching a freelance article. She and her co–author, Charlotte Fox Zabusky, interviewed hundreds of immigrants who had come to the United States from around the world to learn why they came, how they came and what happened to them after the arrived. Their book, “American Mosaic: The Immigrant Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It” was published in 1980 and recognized as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Dramatic readings from the book have been performed on Ellis Island, at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and in an “In Performance at the White House” program broadcast nationally on PBS. You can read more about the book here.
In 1983, she began an oral history of the social change of the 1960’s, this time with her son Robert K. Morrison as her co-author. Their book, “From Camelot to Kent State: The Sixties Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It,” published in 1987, chronicles the first-person stories of civil rights activists, Vietnam veterans, anti-war protestors, student radicals, feminists, hippies and members of the Black Panthers and Weather Underground. It too remains in print, often used as a text or excerpted in college classes on the period. You can read more about the book here.