Oral History How To …

Few people would argue the value of creating a story about a life lived. In fact, it’s really quite a noble idea to create your life’s story. From your history, your descendants will likely learn something valuable and endearing from things you experienced and will get to know you as an individual.

Many people believe that it takes a huge amount of time to record their history and feel that the task is just too big, and so they never start. But sharing memories of your life does not have to be a big, involved effort. Imagine for a moment, how much easier the task of orally recording or writing about your life might be if you were to focus on just one topic a week. It doesn’t matter if you record a little or a lot. The important thing is that you record something.

Now imagine if someone provided you with one question to orally record or write about each week for one year (52 weeks). At the end of just one year you will have created your own life story to share with your children and your future posterity. You will never be forgotten. Add some pictures, and you can make it even more inviting to read.

Below are 52 questions. Each week for one year, choose one question and record as much or as little as you want. Questions do not need to be answered in any special order. You don’t have to answer all of the questions, and you can certainly make up your own and substitute. Of course, if you want to do more than one question a week and get it done faster, there is no reason to not jump in and get the job done!

If you are writing, then when you are finished, you can go to FamilySearch.org, and add your stories to your family tree. By adding your stories to your private branch of Family Tree, you ensure that they will be safe and secure for future generations. Your great-grandchildren will be able to find them and enjoy reading about your life and getting to know who you are.

If you are orally recording and would like to have a printed hard copy of your oral history, then let Ed Britton Legacies know [phone: (587) 969-4748 or email: edbrittonlegacies@gmail.com] and we can help you with voice to text printing.

Good luck, and enjoy your new personal history adventure! Future generations will be glad that you took the time to record something about your life and that you left them with such a valuable legacy.

Here are some questions for a personal history interview:

1. Please tell me your full name? Can you share why your parents gave you that name?

2. What is your birthday? Where were you born? Tell me what the house or houses were like that you grew up in. Describe your neighbourhood, and the town where you grew up.

3. Now, we would like to know about your father. What can you tell us? (his name, birth date, birthplace, parents). Share some memories you have of your father.

4. Tell me about your mother (her name, birth date, birthplace, parents). Share some memories you have of your mother.

5. What kind of work did your mother and father do?

6. What hobbies and recreation did they enjoy?

7. What are the names of your brothers and sisters? What can you tell us about them?

8.What family traditions can you share? How did your family celebrate important holidays?

9. Have any of your family members died? What was the cause of their death? What circumstances about their death do you feel comfortable sharing?

10. What kind hardships did your family experience when you were living with your parents?

11. Are there any unusual genetic traits that run in your family line?

12. What are the names of your grandparents? What memories about them would you like to share?

13. Who were your aunts and uncles? Do you have any aunts or uncles who really stand out in your mind? Share something about your memories of them.

14. Where did you go to school? What was school like for you?

15. What were your favourite subjects in school? Why? What subjects did you like the least? Why?

16. Who were some of your friends in school? What were they like? What are they doing today?

17. When you were young, what did you do for fun? (Organized and also during free time?)

18. What did you do after your grade school was finished? How did that come to be? What was it like for you?

19. What can you tell me about your courtship? Tell us about our wedding.

20. What have you done for a career? How did you come to pursue that career?

21. What were some of the jobs you had throughout your life? What were some of the memorable experiences you had with these jobs?

22. What do you see as your strengths? How have you discovered your strengths? How have they helped you throughout your life?

23. What were some of the challenges you have had to deal with? What have you learned from your challenges?

24. What medical issues have you had to deal with throughout your life?

25. Was religion an important part of your family life? If so, what religion did your family practice, and what did it mean to you? Is it still an important part of your life today? How did you frame life’s meaning and purpose?

26. What are some of your life philosophies or life views that you feel comfortable sharing?

27. What are the personal values that are very important to you? How do you teach these values to your children/grandchildren?

28. What are your favourite foods? What foods don’t you like? What food or medical allergies can you tell me about?

29. Tell me about the dishes your mother or father made that your really remember.

30. Share some stories about your spouse. What is [he / she] like?

31. What are the names of your children? Share a few memories about each one.

32. Did you ever have pets? Tell about them.

33 Tell me about some of the major community, national, and world events you lived through? How did these events affect your life?

34. What are some things that you think the world would be better off without? Explain your feelings about these things.

35. Tell us about some people who you consider as truly great men or women. What did they do that was great?

36. What are some of the very interesting things you’ve experienced in your lifetime?

37. What scares you, or causes you to worry?

38. What have you enjoyed doing in your life? What recreation or hobbies have you pursued?

39. What struggles have you had with health? How has this affected you?

40. What advice would you pass on about raising children that you learned by raising your own children?

41. What are some of your talents? How did you discover and improve them? How have they affected your life?

42. What are a few of the most significant events or experiences in your life? How have they affected you?

43. Tell me about the places that you have lived in your lifetime? Why did you live there, and why did you move?

44. What are some life lessons that you would like to pass on?

45. If you could go back in time and do things over again, what would you change?

46. How would you like to be remembered? What would you like your legacy to be? How would you like to make that happen?

47. If someone gave you $1000 and said you had to give it away but NOT to family, what would you do with it?

48. What were some of the fads that you have seen come and go in your life?

49. What is your favourite season of the year and why do you like it?

50. Tell me about your favourite vacations?

51. What is your personality like, in your view?

52. Tell us about your philosophy about money.