Thanksgiving table talk and the National Day of Listening

Here’s a roundup of practical Thanksgiving Day advice for ways to collect family history around the Thanksgiving table. (Or before or after). I offer these in hopes that it adds some depth to your family holiday. These are blog posts and articles by others around the blogosphere.

Oh, and are you aware of a holiday tip that’s not mentioned here? Please let me know. I’m happy to make this collection grow to reflect the good advice and suggestions that are out there.


Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica has a list of good conversation-starter interview questions. [via Little Bytes of Life]

I wish I had asked my Grandma Gert what it was like to be 21 when women earned the right to vote in 1922. I would have had asked her mother, Nana, for details on growing up without a mother and why did they leave Canada.

A thanksgiving in 2004

Here are a few of her questions (geared toward the women elders in her family):

  • What was it like to make the decision to leave your home country and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 23, 2010 in • GenealogyInterviewing
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Interviewing while looking at photo albums (Part 1)

Photo album cover and interior page (this happens to be my Dad's Mom's album - Grandma Kitchens, from her sojourns in the west before she met and settled down with my Grandpa) When you get together with family at Thanksgiving, will you spend all your time in the kitchen and dining table? Make some time to hear family stories. One basic way to capture stories is to look at photo albums and ask questions about the people and places, and the events depicted therein.

Photos are a great means of eliciting stories. Photos (and photo albums) also provide a fantastic start on a journey of collecting family history stories.

More than one older relative has replied to the request for an interview with something like—“What? you want to interview me? But my life’s been so normal. So unexciting. What would I possibly have to say?”

That same person who objects to an “Interview” (with a capital I) probably finds it perfectly reasonable to sit down and identify people in photographs. “Why of course I’ll tell you who these people you’ve never met are.” Easy-peasy. Slam-dunk.

Another page from the Grandma Kitchens photo album. Here she is, riding her beloved horse, Chief. Now you’re off and running. Then the person will start remembering, ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 19, 2010 in • InterviewingPhotographs
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Saturday Evening Post: Interviewing Family During Holidays

Cover of the November/December 2010 issue of The Saturday Evening Post Whee! I’m in America’s oldest magazine. The cover story of the November/December 2010 issue of The Saturday Evening Post is about finding out more about your family’s history over holiday visits.

The five pages of the magazine covers ways to explore your family’s history, from asking questions of family members to genealogical research, in an article by Doug Donaldson, and one by Stephen C. George.

Plus there’s helpful advice. In a sidebar. I’m quoted there. About avoiding “Why?” when talking to family (more on Why Not Why here) and your seating arrangements when asking questions about pictures in photo albums. (More on that here and [new!] here.)

Cover story, first spread of the Saturday Evening Post's story Some fun stuff: Donaldson’s article and sidebar highlights family gatherings recorded using the built-in video camera on a laptop—that’s a new one on me! Among the experts interviewed is oral historian Stephen M. Sloan, a fellow member of the Oral History Association (too, I read his emails from time to time on the Oral History email list). Two fellow members of the Association of Personal Historians, Jennifer Sauers, and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 17, 2010 in • Do it: YourselfOral history in the newsPersonal
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