When the pace of life has slowed down, it’s the perfect time to interview an older relative about their life. You may have time in your week to reflect about how fragile life can be, or how life can change over night. If you’ve been deep in thought about your life and the lives of the people you love, you may find this a great time to find out more about your family history. Why not take some time to think about who you can talk to or interview with some questions?
Use current events as a way to start your conversation
Last week I asked my mom how she is surviving being cooped up in the house and quarantined. I captured her response on video:
At 90 she seems unfazed by the idea of an epidemic. Her generation lived through the Great Depression and World War II. These people, born in the 1910s and 1920s, are part of the Greatest Generation. As you can see in the video, she is not afraid and she knows that these current events will soon pass.
Let’s jump right into it
You can make time for a family history interview, by using an iPad (see my video interview of my mom, below!) or you can simply call your older relative on the phone. Make time to do it today or this week.
I am the daughter of parents who grew up in times more difficult than current times. My dad always said, “we were poor but we didn’t know it”. He passed away several years ago, but my mom lives with my family and me – call me blessed!
Make time to interview an older person
You may find yourself picking up a new hobby, getting projects done around the house, reading a new book, or endlessly cleaning. (If you need some good project ideas, watch the video, because my mom has several suggestions!)
You should consider any extra time that you have as an opportunity to speak to a relative about your family history. It might be an older parent or a cousin who is older than you.
Recording your information
The video here took me only about five minutes to create. I recorded my mom’s response to my question using my iPad. I uploaded it to YouTube to share with family and friends. Since my mom lives with me, I have opportunities every day to ask her more questions like this.
I usually write down stories and memories that she shares with me, but I am trying to do more video to capture her voice and personality. You can also get a great story by making a quick phone call or writing an email. The only thing you need to do ahead of time is prepare a couple of questions for your relative.
How I created the video interview
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For my family history interview, I used a 7th generation iPad like this one:
Also prepare a way to write down the memories that are shared with you (in case the video is ever lost or deleted). I prepare a couple questions in advance before I sit down with a person I want to interview. Keep it short and sweet. That makes it fun and fresh.
If you need to make any edits, you can use iMovie which is probably installed on the iPad (it was on mine). If you use something else, like an android phone to record your video, you can find an app to make video edits.
Share what your video with other members of your family. When you post your video on YouTube, you can select to make it private or public. If you don’t do a video interview, be sure to share the story or memory by just sending an email to a relative whom you think would enjoy hearing the story. You can also share it on your family Facebook page. If you don’t have a family Facebook page, start one! Here’s how to Create Your Family Facebook Group in 30 Minutes or Less.
It’s much easier to get answers to our questions when they’re still with us and able to answer in person. I can tell you, making this video was great for me, and it accomplished a goal I had for my family history research. It also was fun for my mom and she really gave be a heartfelt answer. She is excited to do more of these videos with me.
I hope you get a chance to try this out. Please share your video with me! My mom and I would love to see it!