Interviewing Your Relatives to Honor Them

I recently watched this video by business genius Brendan Burchard that was not only extremely moving, but also so crazy relevant to what I do here at The Historium that it pretty near blew my mind listening to it. 

Faced with his father's diagnosis with a terminal form of cancer, he had the incredible foresight to ask him to do a recorded interview.  I will let you watch his video 

What an incredible story and an important message.  We call that an oral history interview and truly it can be a priceless memento, but Brendan also points out an often overlooked aspect.  It is easy to think of interviewing someone as intimidating, you may think that they won't want to talk to you or worry you might come off as noisy.  I have done many interviews through my work here, and we human beings love to tell stories almost universally.  It makes us feel important and cared for to be listened to.  If it is too uncomfortable, you can hire a professional to help, having that record of your family member's life will be so worth it in the end.  

If you need some help, check out these past blog posts:

Another resource is my ebook, The Purposeful Family Historian which also discusses both the benefits as well as some resources and techniques for composing an oral history interview.

Have you ever interviewed a loved one? What did you wish you would have known before hand? Or are you hesitating about interviewing someone?  What is stopping you from doing it? Tell us in the comments below!

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here

FREE Printable Workbook to Preserve Your Memories

There is something truly magnificent about the human experience and the way events are synthesized with our senses.  It is for this reason that interviewers often use photographs when talking to their subjects, to help draw out memories that are long buried.  

If you have been wanting to work towards documenting your own personal history but haven't weren't sure where to start, this is may be the perfect place.  

This Photo Memories workbook uses easy prompts connected to photos to help evoke memories.   It has a week long program to get you started in memory journaling using photographic prompts.  

Whether you are struggling with writers block in unlocking your own story, or you want to use this book to help start a dialog with someone you love like an elderly parent or  grandparent, this book will give you the foundation to use photographs as a tool to document your own personal history. 



The best part?  It is totally 100% free to subscribers of our e-mail list.  In fact, that's the only way to get it! 

If you haven't already subscribed  do it now and get your copy instantly!

Already have your copy? Has it been any help? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Recording an Interview

It may be tempting to think that you will remember what you are being told, or to try to jot down notes while the person  is talking.  In a jam, you do what  you have to do, but if you have some time to prepare, it is ideal to record the  interview.  Writing while a person  is talking makes you look distracted, it makes it difficult for the subject to  “discuss” a topic with you, and instead makes them feel like they are being  tested or like you are only interested in getting to that “end goal”of  yours.  You might still be able to  get some valuable information, but you are really missing out if your subject  doesn’t feel comfortable enough to open up to you! The other benefit to a  recording, is the ability to go over it a second (or third) time.   Especially if you are nervous or uncomfortable, but even if you are just trying to remember the next question, it is easy to miss bits and pieces of what is said, or to misinterpret information the first time.   A recording provides an accurate record, something that can be referred to as a source and that can be kept for posterity.  
In-Person  Interviews
There are decent recording devices available at any  store with an electronics department from $20-$70.   Keep in mind that often the less expensive models will lack in voice  quality.  If you are recording this just for yourself you may not be too concerned with the end quality, however, if you think you might like to keep the recording, you might want to make sure that the recorder you buy has the capability to hook up to an external  microphone.  Check out Amazon for a  few examples.  
Long Distance Options  
If you are recording an interview that is not in  person, there are a few different routes you can take.   The simplest method involves ye old smart phone.  If you have a smart phone, it is incredibly easy to record a phone call without spending any money at all.  Check out this tutorial using the app iPadio to record a call.  
Another easy option is Skype.  Using free Skype recording software you can get a pretty decent quality recording for a fairly low price.  
For more information on recording phone calls  check out this comprehensive list by Dan Curtis, a professional Personal Historian (i.e. he interviews people like this for a living).