Share oral history between generations

Sharing the oral history between generations is an important way to capture and stories that otherwise might be lost for generations. (Shutterstock)

Sharing oral history between generations is an important way to capture stories that otherwise would be lost for generations. Following are a few ideas to consider:
Meet and get to know your relatives
Take the opportunity to meet relatives. Often they provide important insight into the history and makeup of the family. For example:
Break the ice with relatives you hardly know by talking about your shared family history.
Aunts, uncles and cousins might have extra information that can help piece parts of your family history together, bringing it to life and at the same time bringing you closer to your relatives who are strangers.
Pulling out old family photo albums can really be helpful in finding out where you fit in with your relatives and where you came from.
As you become better acquainted with your relatives, you will also get the opportunity to meet even more relatives, such as the children and spouses of your relatives.
If you make an effort to form a relationship with them and get to know them personally, you will learn more about your relatives.
Meeting and learning about relatives who are virtual strangers can be very daunting because you will not know what to expect or how they will feel toward you.
In order to make the new relationship with your relatives work, you must be willing to open up, learn about them and tell them what you can about yourself.
One genealogist shares this experience: "I'll ever be grateful that I was able to visit my relatives in Iceland with my father and aunt. Here I was exposed to the language and the culture which I grew to love and appreciate. My Aunt Hulda there taught me how to make Icelandic pancakes, even though she did not speak English and I did not speak the Icelandic language. But one can feel the great love of relatives and learn to love them deeply."
Expert tip: Take your children with you as you visit with a relative and teach them how to talk comfortably with older people. Explain what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.
Types of questions can include:
Where did you grow up?
What were your parents like? Your siblings?
What do you remember about your grandparents?
Who were your friends?
What was school like for you?
What did you do for fun when you were a child? When you were a teenager?
What movies and songs did you like when you were young?
How did you meet your spouse?
What important lessons have you learned in your life?
Gather oral histories
Recording or transcribing oral histories is an excellent assignment for a member of the family who loves to talk with older family members or for someone who is a good typist. Not a lot of training or equipment is required to record or transcribe these histories. A good quality tape/digital recorder or video camera, batteries, tapes and a curious mind are all that is needed.
Many older family members love to talk about their lives to younger family members. These older family members are usually quite honored to have someone in the family interested in what happened to them in their earlier years. Most of these oral histories are full of wonderful family information and can be a great legacy for future generations.
Have grandchildren interview grandparents and ask only four questions. Allow the children to choose the questions and record the answers. Grandparents will tell grandchildren things they will not tell their own children. If the children have a knowledge of history, have them ask grandparents about historical events, such as World War II. Combine and share these stories.
Barry J. Ewell is author of "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History" and founder of, an online educational website for genealogy and family history.

Barry Ewell,
Deseret News

Number of Visits: 5280


Full Name:

Loss of Memory in Pahlavi Prisons

In total, [I was in prison] about 6 years in two arrests. For the first time after several years, a soldier arranged my escape. I do not know why! Maybe he was one of the influential elements of Islamic groups. They took me to the hospital for the treatment of my hand, which was broken due to the callousness of an officer.

Hajj Pilgrimage

I went on a Hajj pilgrimage in the early 1340s (1960s). At that time, few people from the army, gendarmerie and police went on a pilgrimage to the holy Mashhad and holy shrines in Iraq. It happened very rarely. After all, there were faithful people in the Iranian army who were committed to obeying the Islamic halal and haram rules in any situation, and they used to pray.

A section of the memories of a freed Iranian prisoner; Mohsen Bakhshi

Programs of New Year Holidays
Without blooming, without flowers, without greenery and without a table for Haft-sin , another spring has been arrived. Spring came to the camp without bringing freshness and the first days of New Year began in this camp. We were unaware of the plans that old friends had in this camp when Eid (New Year) came.

Attack on Halabcheh narrated

With wet saliva, we are having the lunch which that loving Isfahani man gave us from the back of his van when he said goodbye in the city entrance. Adaspolo [lentils with rice] with yoghurt! We were just started having it when the plane dives, we go down and shelter behind the runnel, and a few moments later, when the plane raises up, we also raise our heads, and while eating, we see the high sides ...