Episode 122 Resources: Interviewing for Family History and Genealogy

Do more than show up with a recorder or note pad. Get the most out of interviews by learning how to ask the right questions, what to do with difficult interview subjects, and more. 

Members at the C.R.E.W. Stan tier get a complimentary copy of The Family History Interview Primer as part of your membership. You can click here to download it.

This combined list of nearly 190 questions was developed with the intent of conducting a video or audio taped interview on an individual who wants to leave a personal record behind. Additionally, an individual can use their responses to these questions as prompts to develop a manuscript for an autobiography.

If you’re part of the C.R.E.W. Stan tier and would like a hardcopy instead, please comment below or send me a message and I’ll put one in the mail for you.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of it, you can do so at this link.

Previous Episodes:

What are interviews?

  • interview (noun)
    • a formal consultation usually to evaluate qualifications (as of a prospective student or employee)
    • a meeting at which information is obtained (as by a reporter, television commentator, or pollster) from a person
    • a report or reproduction of information so obtained
  • interview (verb)
    • transitive : to question or talk with (someone) to get information : to conduct an interview with (someone)
    • intransitive : to participate in an interview for a position (such as a job)
  • The process and the end result
  • Why should we care?
    • Are interviews more common than we think?
    • The documents don’t tell it all
    • Interviewing moves you from indirect connection and engagement to direct connection and engagement
  • How do we get to them?
    • What’s your research question? How can an interview answer it?
    • Approaching your research like the documents ARE the interview
      • What are they saying, or not saying, based on the paper trail?
    • Tips for interviewing
      • Build the relationship FIRST
        • Establish trust
      • When interviewing elders, don’t try to do it all at one time
      • Keeping a designated notebook (for you and for them)
      • Use the voice memo app on your phone
      • Have your prompts prepared ahead of time but be prepared to go off script
        • What will prompt a conversation?
        • What will trigger a conversation?
      • Listen with a second ear
        • They will give you clues, but you have to follow up
      • Be vigilant about the dialogue
      • Consider the environment you interview in
      • Get permission
        • “Lay it down and let ‘em forget”
  • What are some examples of records that you can find that either are, or are similar to, interviews?
  • Where do we go from here?
    • Transcribe audio interviews into text
    • Convert audio files as technology changes
    • Use the contents of the interviews as sources (if agreed)

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