You’ve heard the stories for years but have you ever recorded them? Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to ask some questions of your family members and finally get your history recorded. Here are a few tips for recording your stories this holiday season.
Identify your family storyteller. Who tells the stories in your family? Is it Grandma or Uncle Joe? Ask them if you can talk to them about their life and your family.
Encourage them! Sometimes people hesitate because they don’t think they have anything to say.
Be prepared. Use this list and think of your own questions.
Demographics: When were you born? Where? Who are your parents? Siblings? Timeline: Tell me about your childhood? School? Milestones? College? Work? Marriage? Children? Historical Significance: Where were you when____? What do you remember about ___? Legacy Questions: What is right and/or wrong with the world? What is a secret ambition of yours? What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do? What principles have guided your life? What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What do you believe to be true? What is the most important lesson you have learned? How would you like to be remembered?
Testing? Testing? Record your conversations with permission. Use any mobile device with a free app for recording. Test it first so you can use it easily.
Find a quiet place where you can concentrate on your conversation. Take some notes but maintain eye contact.
Practice active listening. Let your family member know that you are interested in what he or she is telling you. Nod, smile and laugh along.
Record your dinner conversation. Your recording will be chaotic but sometimes sitting around the table is when the best stories emerge.
Save your files! Make sure you know how to upload your files to a safe place. Treat your recording like the precious material it is.
Have fun Take pictures, create artwork together, ask Grandma to write down her favorite recipe. Curate these items from the holidays and create a lasting legacy for your family.
Where do you go from here?
Let me help you pull it all together into an heirloom book.
Family history books make wonderful holiday gifts.