Conducting an Interview with a Family Member

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Conducting a Professional Family Video Interview  From

Discovering Your Past – Episode 2  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lTLbFgJE6g

discoveryourpast(if the links do not work, type in to Youtube search Discovering your past – Episode 2)

 

Pre-production – preparation

What kind of questions to ask – lots f good resources out there, here are two

(a)Family Tree Magazine sites http://www.familytreemagazine.com

(b)UCLA Library Center for oralhistory.library.ucla.edu

ii)  ask open ended questions

(a)what was it like in the town you grew up in

vs

(b)what town did you grow up in

iii) ask the interviewee (before you get there, or as you are setting up) to gather some old heirlooms and photos about the house that you might have always wanted to know about and might have been afraid to ask

(a) who is that in this photograph, how did you get the photograph, why do you keep it

(b)what is this item, where did it come from/how did you get it, why do you keep it, what is going to happen to it when you no longer want it or need it?

(c)item – tell me about the person that owned it before you got it.

iv) this may bring back memories or information they may have forgotten about or make connections they hadn’t thought about before.

v) see 2.v) below – Artist in the family – what to do ahead of time of the interview

Production – the interview itself  – Have the person you are interviewing state their full name first

i)ask permission to film or tape first

ii) with video

(a) you get to see reactions, –some are camera-shy, find a way to hide it, with their permission

(1) make sure batteries are charged up

(2) make sure you have a clear place for electricity and bring an extension cord

iii) with audio

(a) cell phones, recorders, digital or other — see 2. viii)(b) below

(1) make sure batteries are charged up

(2) make sure you have a clear place for electricity and bring an extension cord

iv)notebook

(a) maybe they can write down the names and places accurately

(b) perhaps write down subjects or items you want to come back later in the interview

(1) make sure you have multiple working pens or pencils and erasers

v)Telephone interview

(a/b) audio record both sides of the conversation and/or use notebook to write it all down

vi) are they a painter, artist, writer? Do This Ahead Of Time

(a) Painter–have them paint a family tree ahead of time if they want to

(b) Author–have them write some stories down ahead of time

(c)Artist — use their medium to portray a family event or member

vii) how to do the interview

(a) chronological

(b) as you talk about things

(c) ask followup questions

viii) take breaks, this can be a lot for anyone

(a) ice cream

(b) a walk around the room — this may be a good time to keep a digital recorder in your pocket

(c)drinks of water or teas, no liquor,

(d) check notes to see what you have covered, to see what you need to cover, to remind yourself in case a question had come up and you want to go back to it.

(e) be courteous, don’t keep on a subject that the person doesn’t remember at the time or want to talk about it, gentle nudges only, keep them as comfortable as possible and

(f) ask them if there are questions they wanted you to ask about

(1) Is there something that you thought I would ask and am surprised I haven’t asked about?

(2) Is there something that you want to ask me about?

Post Production – Analysis

i)What information did you find in the interview itself

ii)Do this ASAP, even sooner

(a) look at 15-20 minutes at a time

(b) look at one subject at a time

(1) if the subject takes longer than 15-20 minutes, break it up into 15-20 min segments

iii)Facts – separate what you talked about into 4 different groups

(a) facts (my father was born…)

(b)I think facts (I think my grandfathers middle name was Alexander – something to look up later)

(c)Stories for Research (my mother used to work on Steel Pier)

(d)Historical Tidbits (the trolleys in Atlantic city were called “Gitneys”(?), all of the streets are named after states, so I knew all the states because of those street signs)

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