Family History: Who to interview, Organize a family, friends, and acquaintances list

Family History: Who to interview, Organize a family, friends, and acquaintances listA list of family, friends, and acquaintances is a good way to brainstorm people to interview. I began by organizing Mary’s list of family, friends, and acquaintances into the following three groups:

  • Group One: Family and friends she spoke with often during the last five years of her life. Continue reading

Family History: Oral interview considerations

Family History: Oral interview considerationsBy Barry J. Ewell

Do I conduct a telephone or a personal oral interview?
When you have an option, choose to interview the person in their own home. It is by far the best option, as the interviewee will be much more relaxed. A one-on-one interview is best. Privacy encourages an atmosphere of trust and honesty. A third person present, even a close partner, can inhibit and influence free discussion.

Audio versus video taping. Should you audiotape or videotape an interview? The choice may not be yours—sometimes a person who is comfortable sitting and talking into a tape Continue reading

Family History: Preparing for the telephone interview

Family History: Preparing for the telephone interviewBy Barry J. Ewell

Because I lived a great distance from most of these contacts, I conducted most of the interviews via telephone. Each conversation was taped. Over the years that I have conducted interviews, I have found that taping the interview leaves me free to focus on the discussion. The only notes I took were thoughts that came during the discussion about further questions to ask or expand upon. I used the following equipment for the interview: Continue reading

Family History: Setting up the interview

Family History: Setting up the interviewBy Barry J. Ewell

The best way to approach someone you want to interview is by personal contact, rather than by letter, and often the initial contact will be by telephone. This gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself, explain your project, and outline the sort of topics you might cover in your conversation. The person you have approached may be uncertain or might feel they have nothing interesting to say, so you sometimes have to do a bit of Continue reading

Family History: Preparing for the interview

Family History: Preparing for the interview By Barry J. Ewell

Preparing for any interview—whether it’s ten minutes or all day in length—requires careful planning, research, familiarity with your equipment, and establishing a good rapport with the inter-viewee. Consider the following as part of your preparation:

Practice a couple interviews before the real thing. Before you start recording, make at least one practice interview, preferably with someone you know so that you are not afraid Continue reading

Family History: Correcting recording noise problems during the interview

Family History: Correcting recording noise problems during the interviewBy Barry J. Ewell

As I have interviewed, I have been disappointed when I play back the recording that sounds muffle and distort the voices. Listed below are some common noise problems and suggestions for their solution.

Hiss. This problem may be caused by recording at too low of a level. Turn up your recording-level volume. Alternatively, the recording heads of the tape player may need cleaning or de-magnetizing. The latter can be done by a professional, or it is possible to buy special de-magnetizing tapes. Read the instructions carefully. Continue reading

Family History: Preparing interview questions

Family History Preparing interview questionsBy Barry J. Ewell

Some of the best things you find out will be unexpected. Once you get started with the interview, you are likely to be told some things you had not previously thought about, so it is essential to give the person you are recording plenty of space to tell you what they think matters. But you should not let the interview drift: it is your job to guide it. For this, you Continue reading