Tonga Oral History in the Family History Library
Pacific Island Guide > Tongan Oral History
Over 700 Tongan oral histories were recorded on open-reel tapes during the 1970s, and later transferred to compact discs, and then MP3 files. All of them contain genealogies. These oral histories were recorded in the native language and were later transcribed onto paper. The paper transcripts were microfilmed and given numbers so that people could find, read, and print copies. The sources on microfilm can be ordered and viewed at your local Family HIstory Center.
You can use either (1) the Register of Tongan Oral Histories Wiki page, or (2) the online Keyword Search of the FamilySearch Catalog to find and hear a digital mp3 version of a Tongan oral history interview, or to find and view a microfilm of its transcript.
Using the Catalog to Find Oral Histories
Step 1. Click here to see the Keyword Search for "oral genealogy interview" arranged alphabetically by the authors' surnames. Names that start with a glottal stop (`) will come up first, followed by the alphabetical letters. Scroll down the page until you find an ancestor’s last name. At the bottom of each screen, click on Next results to see the next 50 names.
- Note: Instead of scrolling through all of the records, you can save time by “jumping” to later records. To do this, you must select a record number to “jump” to and type it in the Get records from number box at the bottom of the screen.
- Since you don’t know the number of the record you are looking for, you could guess one. For example, if your ancestor’s name starts with the letter “T” you might guess that the record number for that ancestor would occur around 450, because the letter “T” occurs a little more than two-thirds of the way through the alphabet and 450 is a little more than two-thirds of 600, which is the approximate number of records in the database. Use the following table to help you guess a record number closer to your ancestor’s name, or click the letter(s) to go (link) there.
|1 'A||54 D||144 H||269 Le||390 P||521 Te|
|19 'U||56 E||188 I||298 Ma||432 Q||572 Tu|
|20 A||60 Fa||191 J||346 Me||434 R||626 U|
|40 B||93 Fi||194 K||369 N||443 S||634 V|
|49 C||143 G||242 La||382 O||467 Ta||682 W|
Step 2. Once you see an oral history you want, select it by clicking on the underlined title. This will bring up a screen with more information about the record, such as notes, call numbers, and the record’s location in the Library. You may want to print this screen so that you will have a record of what you found in the catalog. The screen will look like this:
- Note: In this case, the person was from the village “Neiafu” on the island of “Vava`u”. The village the person is from is important because you may find more information about your ancestor by looking at genealogies of other people from the same village. To quickly find villages of the interviewees, see “How to browse the villages” near the bottom of this page.
- Note: Neither of these call numbers is the microfilm number.
- The word “Audio” in the “Location” column signifies that the corresponding call number is for the audio Tape of the interview. The word “Book” in the “Location” column signifies that the corresponding call number is for the paper transcript of the interview. The audio tapes are in high-density storage and must be special ordered. To read the paper transcript, take the call number to Floor B-1 of the Family History Library and ask a Library attendant for help.
Step 4. Use the film number to order the film at a Family History Center. To find a Family History Center near you, click here.
How to browse the villages
If you want to see a list of villages of people who gave their oral histories, use the Register of Tongan Oral Histories Wiki page. It lists the oral genealogies in alphabetical order by last name, with a column showing the name of the village and a column showing the cassette tape number. The glottal stops are interfiled with the letters of the alphabet in this list.
Examples from the Register of Tongan Oral Histories:
|Last Name||First Names||Residence||About place||Tape||mp3||Transcript||PAF|
|| 795890 Item 12
|Mapa||Penisimani Latuselu||Nuku'alofa||Tongatapu||1||mp3||795707 Item 2||PAF|
An earlier, less-complete version of the Register is also available in book and microfilm format from the Family History Library:
- Register of Tongan Oral Histories. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1993. [FHL INTL book 996.12 D33r; film 795912 Item 12].