Oral history has survived more accurately through the eons of time than any other form of recording.
Songs, chants, and stories told by the family have kept the family history alive until today.
Hawaiians were able to chant 90 generations of heritage in their form of story telling.
You should brainstorm with as many family members as you can before starting an oral history. Suggest as many options as you can think of. Starting with grandparents, ask them to tell of their parents and childhood. Ask about the profession or livelihood by which they made a living. Ask about relatives. Then record and listen.
Experts advise framing questions in a way that invites expansive answers. Ask about first memories, or about happiest (and saddest) moments. The idea is to get a conversation started. “Start by interviewing a favorite older relative for practice,”
“Oral genealogies are part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.
Many countries lack written records and only have an oral tradition. Some of the first stories started with the recording of oral genealogies in the 1960s in the islands of Polynesia. You will soon recognized how critical it is to preserve the history before the person passed away.
Most families have a designated “storyteller” who is responsible to memorize the family’s oral traditions, including names of ancestors going back six to thirty generations. Work with family members who want to share their stories and record the information they have been charged to remember throughout their lives. Collect an audio recording and photographs. During the interview, the family names and information should be written down on paper.
Sitting in the second level stretch run box seats at Del Mar was an exciting first for me. Never been to a horse race before. My host said, “See that horse that has white froth between his legs, don’t bet on him, he won’t hold up. See that well developed shouldered horse prancing sideways? I can recite his linage back 7 generations!”
I don’t know what made me say it but, I asked John, “What was your great, great grandfather’s name?”
“I don’t know, who cares!’ he retorted as the horses lined up in the starting gate…
I realized that after spending hundreds of dollars, traveling thousands of miles, coast to coast, everyone was not as interested in their linage as I was. Genealogy was in my blood. The interest grew from a small child, checking with grandma everyday to see what new tidbit had come in the mail from around the world from another relative that was willing to share another piece of the puzzle to who I was and where I came from.
The oral stories from those alive were the easiest to record if you could get them in the mood.
The hearsay was the next easiest to harvest but the validity wasn’t always pure.
Then there were pictures.
Oh! the house burned in 78, the flood of 62 welded them into a block, my cousin took them while we were in town and they have not been seen since. None have seen that picture since Dad died. There are a million reasons the glossy paper has not survived until today.
Even so, persistence prevailed and I started to restore family pictures of my immediate family from relatives as our house and pictures burned to the ground by an arsonist relative in 1960. I borrowed and made copies by having a professional photographer take pictures of the original and then I received the negatives. Over 1000 images and all originals returned but 2. My cousin won’t speak to me to this day as she feels I coveted a picture of her and her brother more than her fellowship…
Steadily I expanded my search till I reached the Rubicon of photography in my family. A picture of my great, great grandfather who fought in the civil war.
I have hit an impasse. I cannot find any records before 1630 in Yorkshire England. It is my understanding that church records were collected from the churches and stored in caves during World War II and haven’t been returned to the churches since…
Another trip, another adventure, I can’t wait! The legacy is easiest recorded for the family on legacytoo.com