Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oral History Questions

All family history researchers should take the time to conduct oral history interviews of family members as well as friends of the family. Through these interviews, researchers will learn things that will never be found in documents we gather. Knowledge gained from oral history interviews can put “flesh on the bones” of ancestors long gone.

Many interviewees may remember as far back as their grandparents or great grandparents. Their memories can take your research back several generations. For example, early in my research I interviewed four of the siblings of my paternal grandmother, Hattie Moore Pair. They were all in their eighties or nineties during the time of the interviews which took place between 1996 and 1997.

Through the interviews, I learned about their lives as well as the lives of their parents and grandparents, who were born during the 1840s. I also learned about my grandmother Hattie, whom I never knew, because she died when my father was a child.

Now, three of these siblings are deceased, but thankfully I have the interviews on tape. The last living sibling of my grandmother is Aunt Della, who will be turning 100 later this year. Her memory is still sharp and I look forward to learning more about my family history through her memories

Below are two websites with list various questions you can ask during oral history interviews. Remember not only to ask questions, but also to record them, either by audio or video, and transcribe and share the results with other family members.

  • Selected Topics and Questions for Oral Histories

  • 50 Questions for Family History Interviews
  • 1 comment:

    The Family Griot said...

    Thank you Professor Dru for answering my query about oral history interviews. Good information. I truly appreciate it!