Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post-Christmas Presents: Oral Histories

Among my Christmas gifts this year was the chance to listen to an oral history done with one of my relatives. That relative is now deceased, and with his death, we thought we had lost many of his stories. Fortunately for our family, the local historical society had managed to record what we had not. As a result, we have a thorough record of his business career, personal life, and more. Even better, it's in his own voice.

Hearing it was a reminder to me to take the time to record family stories. This oral history was fairly straightforward - an hour or so taken on an old fashioned tape recorder. The quality isn't great, but it is something that any of us could easily do at home. Just write out a list of questions and start talking. An hour isn't much to record a family treasure.

And if you're really lucky, the University of Connecticut may have already done some of the work for you. Their Office of Oral History has been recording Connecticut voices for some time. They've produced several major projects on Connecticut life and have developed a stockpile of interviews. Check out their website at http://www.oralhistory.uconn.edu/projects.html. You may find your ancestor or relative listed on their projects roster.

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