Genealogy: 150 questions to ask family members about their lives

Genealogy 150 questions to ask family members about their livesBy Barry J. Ewell

Well-crafted, open-ended questions can yield fruitful results when you interview family for purposes of family history. The following is an outline of questions you may want to consider. Take time to tailor the questions to the person you are interviewing.

When you are ready to conduct an interview, have the questions in front of you to make sure you are getting the information you desire. Conversations about family can go many directions. When possible, record the interview on audio or video.

  1. What is your full name and why were you named that? (Maiden name for females)
  2. Were you named after someone else?
  3. Did you have a nickname as you were growing up?
  4. If you did, what was it and why did they call you that?
  5. Have you had any other nicknames as an adult? Continue reading

Family History: Do background research for the oral history

Family History: Do background research for the oral historyBy Barry J. Ewell

It is natural to want to rush out and start the interview process, but no project should begin without some basic investigation of available resources. I found that by gathering and organizing material, I was able to gain a very good insight into which direction I should go and what questions I needed to ask. As you prepare, you may need to review other Continue reading

Journal Writing: Use several writing styles when composing your journal

10-16-2014 2-18-40 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

How boring would it be if all you did for your journal was write the date and what you did for that day? The following are a few writing styles that you may choose (on different occasions) to help express your thoughts:

Free writing (stream of consciousness writing). Write anything and everything that comes to mind. You do not need to follow any logi¬cal formation of thoughts. You do not need to worry if grammar, spelling, or even the ideas are acceptable. Do not do anything that would interrupt the flow of thoughts from your mind to the paper. Continue reading

Family History: Types of oral history interviews

Family History: Types of oral history interviewsBy Barry J. Ewell

There are four basic types of oral history interviews, which are outlined below.

Life histories. These are interviews with individuals about their backgrounds from childhood to adulthood. Most follow a chronology. Life histories provide an opportunity to discuss a variety of subjects based on the interviewer’s interests and the interviewee’s remembered experiences and perspectives. They are ideal for family research, as well as for certain aspects of community and social histories. Continue reading

Journal Writing: Keeping a journal

10-16-2014 1-53-33 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

Think ahead to one hundred years; one of your ancestors will be seeking to better understand himself by trying to get to know you. What will you leave behind? Will there be videos to view, an oral interview to listen to, or a journal to read? Your ancestor will find your journal to be of great value. You will be one on one with him, sharing your innermost thoughts, feelings, and reflections.
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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: What are oral interviews?

Family History: What are oral interviews?By Barry J. Ewell

The real record of history is found in the lives of ordinary people who lived it. Before you start conducting an interview, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of an oral interview. Oral history is the collection and recording of personal memoirs as historical documentation. It emphasizes the significance of human experience. Continue reading