I’ve decided to start an oral history project and I would encourage you to do the same. Our older relatives have priceless memories and it is not too soon to start collecting them.
My maternal grandfather was a gifted, natural storyteller. He could spin a tale with such vivid details that his listeners were riveted. I always wanted to capture his stories on paper or tape, but I thought I had plenty of time. He passed away almost three years ago, but he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about 10 years ago. By the time I realized it was too late, well, it was way too late. I will always regret that I waited.
My maternal grandmother has recently been diagnosed with this same, horrible disease. However, she is currently losing only the day-to-day details; I think there is still time to capture her memories of childhood, growing up, her parents and grandparents, young adulthood, etc. I usually visit her on Sundays, so I plan to start documenting these memories.
With today’s technology, I can record our conversations, download them to my computer, and I will have audio files as well as transcriptions and source notes for narrative stories. I have found some great resources for interview questions to prompt her memory.
In addition to interviewing my granny, I plan to interview both my paternal grandparents, my parents, and possibly other family members. This is a rich source of data that will add color and depth to my genealogy research. After all, it’s not just about dates and names, it’s about people and their lives.