How to Preserve Your Family’s Oral History

How to preserve your family's oral history - Audio Transcription Center Blog

Make all family events unforgettable by interviewing your relatives while they’re all together––you’ll hear amazing stories and gather surprising information that you did not know about them.
Just don’t get caught up in the trap of trying to make it perfect, or you’ll never start. Here are 2 easy ways to preserve your relative’s oral history:

Option 1 (Private)

Print a set of questions you’d like to ask. Find your interviewee, sit in a quiet place, test your place you phone or digital recorder close to your respondent and start recording the conversation with a smartphone or digital recorder.

The following are 10 great questions to start, or you can see a complete segmented list here:

  1. Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
  2. What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
  3. Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
  4. Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  5. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  6. What is your earliest memory?
  7. Are there any funny stories your family tells about you that come to mind?
  8. What are you most proud of?
  9. Do you have any regrets?
  10. For your great-great grandchildren listening to these years from now, is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?

Remember, interviews can evoke strong emotions, especially when talking about people who are no longer with us. Be sensitive to your interviewee and listen patiently before asking the next question. Don’t interrupt!

Option 2 (Public)

Download the free StoryCorps App and create a login.

Select your interview partner and prepare a set of great questions within the app.

Find a quiet place to sit, follow the prompts in the app to begin recording, and let the conversation flow! Remember to sit close together and make eye contact.

Share and archive your interview. Create a title and summary, and use descriptive keywords. Share a selfie from your interview, and make sure to tag @StoryCorps and use #TheGreatListen.

No matter which method you use to record the interviews, it is always a good idea to have the transcribed audio in your records for searching purposes. Or who knows, one day you may have so much material that you can make a book, just like StoryCorps and these 3 wonderful titles that we transcribed: Listening Is an Act of Love, All There Is, and Mom

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