Family History: Personal history documentation

Family History: Personal history documentationBy Barry J. Ewell

As the individual writing the personal history, it becomes your responsibility to collect documentation that is complete, accurate and reliable, especially if you intend to incorporate the information into a book or article for distribution.

If pieces of written and oral information contradict each other, then you must go deeper to determine which is more accurate, unless contradiction is the key to the issue.
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Family History: Some Tips for Creating and Editing Transcripts

Family History: Some Tips for Creating and Editing TranscriptsBy Barry J. Ewell

The following are some tips for creating and editing transcripts based on my personal experiences:

  • Listen to about ten minutes of the interview before starting to transcribe.
  • Transcribe what you hear. Do not put words or phrases into the interviewee’s mouth, even if what they say is awkward or ungrammatical. Do not change word order.
  • It will help if you have special transcribing equipment, such as good headphones and a transcribing machine that can be operated by foot pedals so you can stop and Continue reading

Family History: Look at your writing through a reader’s eyes

10-16-2014 5-23-50 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

When I first started writing, I found myself becoming very defensive when someone made an edit or comment about the writing. I took it very personally. That “filter” was keeping me from seeing how my writing was being received by others. Often the editing and suggestions others made were minor, but they really made a difference in how the writing would be received. Even if I didn’t agree with the recommendation, it gave me a chance to Continue reading

Family History: Writing the personal history, Draft one

Family History: Writing the personal history, Draft oneBy Barry J. Ewell

By now, you should be ready to start writing. Whether you are writing about yourself or someone else, be honest. I have read many histories over the years, and those that have the most meaning include true stories about real life. The stories range from the sad and tragic to the exciting, funny, and simple day-to-day. 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

Family History: Before you leave home to conduct the interview

Family History: Before you leave home to conduct the interviewBy Barry J. Ewell

It’s now the day before your interview. Take time to do a quick check of the material, equipment, and artifacts you will take with you to make sure you’re all set. A simple checklist might help make sure you have all the equipment you need. Ensure that everything is in good working order. Check that you know how to operate all your Continue reading

Family History: Conducting the interview

Family History: Conducting the interview By Barry J. Ewell

As you are conducting the interview, consider the following tips:

Choose a quiet place. Try to pick a room that is not near a busy road. If you can, switch off radios and televisions, which can sometimes make it difficult to hear what someone is saying.

Interview introduction. Before you actually begin the interview, explain to the person that not all of the information provided will be used in the family history. They will have an opportunity to see and approve it before it is published or distributed to other family members. Continue reading