Record your family history before it's too late

Family Ancestry Research Interviews

February is filled with birthdays in our house.  My mother and my son both have February birthdays.  My husband's grandfather has a February birthday too.  As our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents age, no time should be wasted in getting their stories down on tape (digital that is).  What a treasure to pass onto later generations!  And the interviews can play a central role in your future family history books and heirlooms

Conducting the interview - be prepared!  But not too prepared...

There are a few simple things to be sure you do before sitting down to an interview.  One of the most important is to have a recording device so you don't have to take notes. But make sure your interviewee knows you are recording them, whether it's voice or video.  This can be a big challenge if the person you're interviewing has dementia.  Have consent.  And test your equipment!

Next, have some stock questions.  It works really well to start off with having them provide you with their basic stats; birthday and location, marriage information, etc.  It's always interesting to hear how they differ from the records.  These could be clues as well.  Maybe an important date or event is getting confused.  Research what these differences could mean.  It might just open up a treasure.  Having some basic questions will get the interview going and could be used to keep it going if you lose steam. 


Last, but certainly not least, be prepared to listen!  Going in with an agenda or limited questions that do not allow for the conversation to flow could mean you miss something important.  Do they look like they want to tell you something?  If you're too busy reviewing your question list or writing notes you may miss something important.  I've heard of more than one family secret being revealed during an interview that would never have come up during casual conversation.

Having good listening skills means interjecting questions just to keep things moving but not dominating the conversation.  This comes naturally for some but for many this is a skill that must be learned and practiced. 

Enjoy the conversation and you'll have something to treasure and remember as well.

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