To celebrate the new audio recording and uploads feature in Arkiver, we’ve put together 7 helpful hints for recording oral histories.
1) Pick someone who has good stories to tell.
Everyone has good stories to tell including you. That said, there may be members of your family that you know have unique stories that really appeal to you. Perhaps that’s a relative that served in the military, a friend that went through a particularly painful experience, or your child that has some fun things they remember about you as a parent. Whoever it is, think about what valuable stories they have to tell.
2) Prepare your questions.
It’s often difficult to know just where to start. Arkiver Storyteller tool to spark some memories. Pick your favorites from Storyteller’s database of over 200 questions and add your own to create your own customized list of interview prompts. This is a great approach even if you’re just going to interview yourself.
3) Use other memory prompts.
Sometimes photos and other objects can really help memories come flooding back. Collect together a few items that may help trigger the types of stories you’re wanting to capture. Perhaps there are heirlooms around the house your grandma can tell you about. Perhaps a military medal will help prompt a story that would otherwise never be told. Get creative with this!
4) Keep recordings short(ish).
Your grandchildren are not going to want to listen to hours of non-stop audio. Like it or not, we live in a world of soundbytes and keeping our audio stories “consumable” is important if we want them to be valued in years to come. Some stories may only take a couple of minutes to tell, others 20 minutes, but don’t let them get much longer. Keeping recordings focused on one specific story is a great way to keep things snappy. For example, if you’re interviewing your grandpa don’t try to capture his whole career in one go, start with how he got his first job. Each story can then contribute to an overall narrative.
5) Focus on the stories not places, dates and names.
Genealogists can be guilty of losing the wood for the trees – focusing on specific details rather than the emotional content of the stories. The people you’re interviewing will also thank you for not questioning their abilities to remember trivial details.
6) Share the stories.
While you may want to keep some stories to yourself, stories are generally not much use if they’re not shared. With an app like Arkiver, you can share and enjoy stories privately with family and friends. Sharing may also inspire others to record stories of their own and that is a great thing.
7) Perfection is the enemy.
You’re never going to capture every story and the stories you capture will never be perfect. That’s OK. The important thing is just to start. Even if you only capture two stories from a beloved relative that’s two stories that may otherwise have disappeared forever. Don’t overwhelm yourself by setting unrealistic expectations, just do what you’re comfortable with. That approach makes the whole process sustainable and you’ll capture more stories in the end.
So what stories will you capture?