Friday, February 02, 2007

How To Obtain An Oral Family History Interview

Have you ever wondered what life was like when your grandparents or your great-grandparents were alive? What was the Great Depression really like in your ancestor's family? I think that one of the best way to learn about your family and history is to meld the two together by obtaining an oral and video history of your parents, grandparents, and if you are fortunate enough of your great-grandparents. There is no time like the present to start working towards learning more about your history.

The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide provides a great how to begin format in a PDF format that you can download and refer to in your preparation for an interview.

A Script for Video or Audio Interviews with Family Members will provide you with various questions that you ask during an interview that will cover various portions of your ancestors life. The video below provides the beginning ideas of how to obtain an oral history. This video is the first in a series of five videos that and can be found at Roots Television.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, a Folklorist said: "[Tradition-bearers] are living links in the historical chain, eye witnesses to history, shapers of a vital and indigenous way of life. They are unparalleled in the vividness and authenticity they can bring to the study of local history and culture." Preserving a snippet of your ancestor's life by a video and/or oral history will help us to remember the past, understand more fully the present, and help prepare us for the future.

As we come to understand our ancestors, we begin to truly understand ourselves. I think that Daniel Webster said it the best:

"To be faithful to ourselves, we must keep our ancestors and posterity within reach and grasp of our thoughts and affections, living in the memory and retrospect of the past, and hoping with affection and care for those who are to come after us."
—Daniel Webster, 1782-1852, U.S. lawyer, diplomat, and Secretary of State

No time like the present to begin recording your family's history.

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