What good is all the researching, collecting, and storing and all the time and money spent if we never share the history, stories, or photographs with our extended family? This is the place where I share all the best tools, ideas, and techniques that will make it possible for you to preserve and share you legacy for extended family members and future generations. ---Robin

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oral History Interviews

I found this tree in a beautiful park not far from my house. It's branches reach so far out, and they are very close to the ground. I could not walk under them. I wondered what this tree would say if it could talk.  

My thoughts turned to the people in our lives who have been around long enough to give a perspective on life which we could find useful. They can help us to understand a bit more about who we are and what life is all about.

We just need to stop long enough to ask the right questions and listen. I have been very fortunate to have been able to formally interview a few such people. I have been able to find clues which helped me to discover the names and whereabouts of ancestors. I have also been blessed to discover how much I have in common with my forbears. Every time I get stuck in my research, I find someone to interview. I ask about names, dates, and places, but I also let the person I interview tell their stories. I record and transcribe these interviews because I find myself referring to them many times.

Even when my subject insists he or she does not remember much, they eventually are able to recall important details sometimes days later. If you do not know where to start or even why you should start, interviewing your oldest living relatives is the first and most important step. Remember that even second interviews have been successful in uncovering more information.

My first oral history interviews were conducted over a speakerphone as I recorded and asked questions. I have uploaded these interviews to a family website, and I have also transcribed the interviews for easy reference. I have been very fortunate to have these recordings and the transcriptions after loved ones have passed away.

My favorite digital recorder is Polderbit. I can record from a laptop using a microphone and
speakers. Then I can save the recording as an mp3.
For a 7 day free trial, visit:
Be prepared. Have a pedigree chart, family group sheet, photos, historical documents, and a list of questions ready.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Many of us struggle with family members who we wish would get more excited about family history.  Well I have learned that if you make your history accessible for young and old in an attractive way they will become excited to share what they know and get more involved.  Manila folders and long discourses just do not get the same results.   That is too much like history class.  The following resources will make a huge difference in the presentation of your family history:


Please feel free to share your own successes below!