The much publicized passing of our World War II veterans and other members of the "Greatest Generation" reminds us of the importance of collecting oral or written histories from elderly family members.
"The process doesn't require a novel, a professional DVD or strange stories. All that is needed is to provide your family with a record of the stories from your childhood to the present," says David Burton, communication specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Springfield. "And the holidays are a perfect time to begin this type of effort."
There is a lot of information on the Internet about developing oral histories. In a practical sense, Burton says there are several ways people can give the valuable gift of history to their families.
"With the popularity of video cameras, it is convenient to begin a family oral history. The hardest and easiest parts of this process are the same: getting started," Burton notes.
According to Burton, there are several ways to get started with a family oral history. One of the easiest is to take a tape recorder or video recorder to the next family dinner or reunion. Another excellent opportunity to develop an oral history is to record conversations while working on a family photo album.
"If that can't be done, just start writing on your own history or take really good notes each time you talk to a family member," Burton says.
"A History of Me" is a 20-page guide developed by Burton that is full of questions that will guide a person toward preserving a personal history for future generations. The same questions can be used by an interviewer trying to record another person's history.
FYISource: MU Extension Southwest News Service