Logan Utah Family History Center/Oral History Instructions
Congratulations on your decision to create an oral history at the new Logan Family History Center Oral History Room. To assist you in this exciting project, we have listed a few things that you may want to consider as you prepare for and conduct this history.
- Decide who will be involved. Who is the person to be interviewed? A spouse? A neighbor? A parent? Next, you will want to consider whether this person would like someone to assist with the interview. This may be someone who can ask questions and gently guide the interview session
- Consider the topics you will want to cover. The center has several outlines available for you consisting of brief histories, extensive histories, chronological histories, “rambling” histories or formal histories. You may wish to use one of these outlines or create one of your own. We find that it is generally helpful to have some kind of structured questions but also we would encourage you to be flexible and be willing to pursue unexpected topics and directions in the interview.
- Become familiar with the recording facilities. A staff member at the Center will acquaint you with the equipment and assist you in getting started with your history interview. Feel free to ask questions so that you can be comfortable with the available facilities. The Center staff member can be available to assist you throughout the interview, or if you prefer, they can leave you while you conduct the interview in private.
- Begin the interview. It is helpful to start the interview by giving the names of the people involved, ages, current date and the location of the interview. Remember that the questions and outlines that you have prepared in advance are merely suggestions. Feel free to include additional questions, and if something is of interest, feel free to ask the person to tell more. If either of you needs to take a break, put the camera on “pause” and then resume when you are ready. The interviewer should avoid making comments such as “uh huh” or “wow!”, but should use visual cues such as smiling or nodding their head to encourage the storyteller to continue with their narrative.
- Continue to encourage the interview. Listen carefully. Look the storyteller in the eyes. Nod your head occasionally, smile and stay engaged. Encourage topics that have an interesting quality to them. If you begin a topic that isn’t something you want to put on tape, gently steer the conversation in another direction. Ask questions that will elicit emotions. The question “how did that make you feel?” will often result in interesting responses. Be considerate of the feelings of the person being interviewed. If you find that there are topics they do not want to talk about respect those wishes and move to a different topic. Be curious and honest and keep an open heart. This will result in an interesting and productive interview.
- Finishing the interview. Before turning off the recorder, ask if there is anything else that the person you are interviewing with like to talk about. If there is, allow a few more minutes to explore additional topics. When you are through, stop the recorder and locate a staff member who can assist you in transferring the video you have just created to a DVD. If you would like to schedule additional interviews with this individual or someone else, please notify the receptionist who can schedule time for you to create additional histories. If you have any ideas or suggestions that will help us improve the services that we offer we would appreciate hearing from you. Contact one of the staff members to share your thoughts, or leave a note in our suggestion box. Thank you for using this resource. We hope it will be meaningful for you.
Basic Oral History Outline
Family background history
- parents and grandparents
- where they came from and where did they live
- what they did for a living
- their health, their joys and their sorrows, their deaths
- where, when and who was there
- your name, where it came from and how do you like it.
- schools attended
- favorite teachers
- teachers disliked
- school activities
- things enjoyed or disliked
- mischief created
- memories of family trips and family activities
- memories of grandparents and other relatives
- relationships with siblings
- places lived while growing up
- church activities
- baptism and confirmation
- school activities
- likes and dislikes
- teen age years
- church activities
This basic outline could be expanded to include details of such topics as:
- Formal education. Schools attended. Area of study.
- Marriage. How you met. Dating and courting experiences.
- Family experiences. Children coming into the family. Vacation experiences.
- Employment history. Work experiences. Relocations. Retirement.
- Church activities and callings. Faith building experiences. Missionary callings.
- Family interactions with adult children and your grandchildren.
- Favorite lifetime memories. Overcoming trials and difficulties.
- Your retirement years. Hobbies you have pursued. Travels you have taken.
- Share your testimony and feelings about the gospel, family and loved ones.
- Offer words of encouragement and advice to those who will be privileged to view and listen to your history in future years.
Asking Oral History Questions: After introducing the participants, and their relationship with each other, the following questions may be appropriate to use.
- When and where were you born? What do you know about your name and why it was chosen for you? What do you remember about your childhood and your family home and neighborhood?
- Where did your ancestors come from? What information can you share about your ancestors, your family name and names in your family that you may have a special meaning to you or others?
- What things do you remember about your early childhood? What kind of special celebrations and traditions did you have in your family?
- What role did religion play in your early years? What role has played up to this point in your life? What religious activities have you participated in?
- What training or education did you receive? What occupations have you held during your lifetime? Or, what type of homemaking and parenting skills have you developed?
- What types of leisure activities have you pursued throughout your lifetime? What hobbies, skills, talents or interests have you developed?
- What differences or contrasts do you see between the lives of your parents, yourself and your children or grandchildren? What effect has technology had throughout your life?
- If you were able to go back in your life and do some things over, what kind of things would you do differently? Also, what are some of the things you would choose to keep the same?
- What words of advice would you like to leave for your children, grandchildren and other friends, relatives or descendants who may have the opportunity of viewing this video?
- As we bring this visit to a close, are there any other ideas, thoughts or feelings that you would like to share?