Interviewing Family At Thanksgiving: What Happened Last Year & This Year’s Plans (Updated)

Thanksgiving Table Setting What can you do to interview family and collect histories and memories of elders and relatives when you get together with family at Thanksgiving or for the National Day of Listening?
I wrote about this last year, with a collection of ideas I culled from the internets. I adapted one of those for our family gathering last year. I’ll describe what we did, what I learned, how this year will be different, and brainstorm some variations on a theme.

I started with Beth Lamie’s idea, Draw From A Hat. Put a set of questions in a hat and draw one out and ask. Repeat. That was the inspiration: That, and “Get the kids involved.”

But of course, somebody has to think up the questions that get placed into the hat. I focused on this with my nieces—two girls, aged 9 (nearly 10) and 4. Let them be the ones to come up with questions for everyone.

What we did to prepare for Dinner Conversation

I arrived at their house, got them to step away from the computer and the Tee vee (sigh. yes. true.) with an aunt-ish scheme: Think of some questions to ask people at the dinner table. Instead of generic questions that would apply to anybody, I ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 22, 2011 in • InterviewingPersonal History
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Interviewing Family: Kim von Aspern-Parker of Le Maison Duchamps, Part 2

Kim von Aspern-Parker In this second half of my interview with Kim von Aspern-Parker (Kim von Aspern-Parker, Part 1) about interviewing family, Kim talks about her approaches to get permission from people for her interviews, describes her hardest interview (and why it’s hard), and she gives her final morsels of advice (plus, I put all her advice in one handy list).

Kim is one of the four people I interviewed about interviewing family at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree this past June. (Series introduction)

Kim von Aspern-Parker blogs at Le Maison Duchamp. Highlights of Part 1: For Dad to start talking, he had to be in an altered state. Using a genealogy chart to interview? Surprise! Advice for interviewing: remember to listen for the stories, don’t interrupt people, and work from photo albums.

Disclosure and Permissions

In the first half, while Kim talked about her visit with her 90-year old aunt and the misunderstanding over the genealogy chart, she described putting her recorder out on the table with a bunch of other items (keys, phone, etc.), and interviewing her aunt, and letting her know after the fact. We revisit a bit of that conversation for this later section on disclosure ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 16, 2011 in • GenealogyInterviewing
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Interviewing Family: Kim von Aspern-Parker of Le Maison Duchamps, Part 1

Kim von Aspern-Parker The first interview in this “Jamboree Genealogy Bloggers talk about Interviewing Family” series is with Kim von Aspern-Parker, who blogs at Le Maison Duchamp. I started by asking her to tell me of her experience interviewing family members. She began by describing her experience interviewing her dad.

This interview transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and to remove, you know, a few, like, forms of spoken word that don’t, um, work as well as the written word. There are also places in the interviews where I withhold information at the request of the person interviewed.

Kim von Aspern-Parker: When I started interviewing my dad, I started asking him questions about his family, cause I was doing my genealogy. The first indication that I got from my dad that he was going to be a hard interview:

“What was your grandfather’s name?”

He says, “Mr. Gilchrist.”

“No, like first name, Dad.”

“Grandpa.”

(Probably not.)

So, every time I interviewed my dad it was like ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 09, 2011 in • GenealogyInterviewing
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How does genealogical research differ from interviewing family?

Somewhat predictable VS Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) Back in June, at Jamboree in Burbank, I spoke to four people about their experience recording interviews with family members. Next week I will start publishing a series of posts where you get to hear (or, read) from them directly.

Jamboree, by the way, is the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree – the annual June conference in the greater Los Angeles area. It’s well-attended by genealogy bloggers.

The four people:

(Listed in the order I interviewed them)

But first, imagine the following scenario.

For a given type of document, there's a general procedure to follow in order to get your hands on the document. You decide to contact the government agency that can give you some vital records for Great Great Great Grandma, which are stored at the Grove County Records. You want her birth certificate and marriage certificate.

The usual procedure for that is to write a request for the information. Maybe they have a PDF form online that you can fill out and print. Or maybe you just write Great Great Great Grandma’s name and whatever other ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 04, 2011 in • GenealogyInterviewing
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