Greetings, marhaba & welcome! Last month I had the pleasure of beginning a family history interview project in Danville, California with Lebanese American entrepreneur Ron Jeha. Oral history interviews can start, confirm, or enhance genealogy research. Moving beyond the names, dates and places on a tree, the stories of the lives of our family members and their ancestors are the true treasures that are found in an oral history interview. Listening to the timbre of a voice filled with pride and connection, whether it is memories of a beloved town landmark or immigration stories which tie the family to their roots abroad, the impact on research, or even greater on loved ones, cannot be measured.
When interviewing a family member, it is important to be in a comfortable, quiet place, which allows us to focus on the stories and for the recording, whether audio, video, or both, to be clear. In this case, a bright room with natural lighting away from the noises of the kitchen was ideal.
Preparing for the interview is always helpful, researching people and places where the family member or their ancestors lived. Finding newspaper clippings, using photos, and building a research tree to clearly follow stories about family are all tools to enhance the interview and allow for more relatable questions. For this project, this initial interview confirmed information already found, provided many research avenues to pursue and filled the time with endearing stories for a much richer and meaningful legacy.
I enjoyed starting this family history project and look forward to seeing where it leads.