Tree thumbnailOral histories add a deeper understanding to family history and enliven genealogical research.

Linda Shopes explains the value of oral history in documenting family history and how it can supplement genealogies by providing a “feeling tone” to basic outlines of relations.

Shopes provides techniques for conducting oral histories with family members, beginning with background research on the individual relation and the historical context in which they grew up.

Shopes emphasizes determining a focus for the interview that will create a more coherent narrative rather than a disorganized mash of information.

Tips for conducting the interview explain how to be an effective listener and how to ask questions to solicit engaging narrative.

Shopes also explains potential challenges for conducting interviews with family members that interviewers should review and take into consideration before embarking on this journey.

Technical Leaflet #123 (1980)

For more information on similar topics, please refer to Technical Leaflet Bundle 12, Using Oral History.