How Family History Researchers Can Capture Family Stories

Family history researchers tell the “how we got here” story.  That long, most interesting, winding tale.   The family tree search story most always has drama, details of survival, humor and more—all the elements of the best stories.  Don’t you always say “it could be a movie”?

Family history researchers get amazing information from relative's family stories.

Family history researchers get amazing information from relatives’ family stories.

National Tell A Story Day, “celebrated” in April in the USA and in October in England and Scotland is it for us family history researchers!   That’s a day we can honor the story tellers, the yarn-spinners, in our family tree.  And we can honor ourselves, too, as preservers of the cast of characters.

Our work as genealogical researchers is putting it together.  Yes, the long form family story.  And as we do it, we hear the comedians and the boring ones. We will be reminded of the, you know…the one your mother told about aunt so and so. Or Uncle Lou’s oft-repeated description of that hysterical childhood event.  We hear how the candlesticks were smuggled into the country on the boat to the new world.  Or the vignette about when Aunt Jane fell into the well.  Every family has them.  It’s our job as family history researchers to hear them.  And remember them.

We family history researchers must make them part of the family’s larger story. According to those in the know about National Tell A Story Day (In 2014, April 27 in the USA and October 27 in UK and Scotland), true stories are told eye to eye, face to face.   In the genealogical search world, we family history researchers know better!  We know that true stories of our ancestor search members may somehow be recorded, transcribed, written down for the ages.   Isn’t that how we have the stories of Moses, Jesus, Allah and Joseph P. Smith—some of the forefathers?

Tell A Story Day is perfect for the family history researcher who needs to get relatives tales.

Tell A Story Day is perfect for the family history researcher who wants to get relatives’ wonderful tales.

We genealogists do try to get first-hand accounts.  Every genealogist wants to capture mom and dad and the aunts and uncles before they are gone. We family history researchers always think about doing the interview. We never want to procrastinate too long. We always want to remember that now is the time.

So how do you begin this genealogical story preservation? How do you capture the real “stories” of the family?  How do you get to the comedians and the talented monologists in your family tree?

Here are some ways for the family history researcher to begin:

  1. Make a list of living relatives, especially note the older ones.
  2. Ask family members to recall who in the family has the best family history stories.
  3. Make a chart of the family members/stories/topics.
  4. Have family members tell the story they recall others telling and take notes/record.
  5. Interview the relatives on the topics uncovered in your genealogical search.
  6. Record the telling of the most memorable family stories.

Many genealogists add color to their family tree searches with

  • Family personal letters
  • Newpapers, magazines and trade journals
  • Videotapes
  • Audio tapes

Some family history researchers always do

  • Video interviews
  • Take notes on phone calls
  • In-person interviews

These are the ways the family history researcher validates the dates, relatives’ names and family history facts.  The genealogist gets the stories.

Begin getting the living relatives' stories.  Tell A Story Day is a good way for Family History Researchers to begin.

Begin getting the living relatives’ stories. Tell A Story Day is a good way for Family History Researchers to begin.

The stories present an angle that is different from the purely factual documents for which we are always searching.  Our family stories increase knowledge. Our family stories add color.  These genealogical search tales cull the details of the family tree.

Does this process seem too long winded for you? Then contact us. Our RecordClick family history researchers will uncover, remember and record the amazing stories in your family tree.

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