When the extended family gathers this holiday season, don't mentally tune out when Uncle Joe spins a yarn - yet again - about the year the family got snowed in and the stockings almost didn't get filled.
Instead, pull out a paper and pencil or tape recorder and use these occasions to explore your family's past, suggests genealogist and author Maureen Taylor. "Tales from the past and interviews with relatives can be an invaluable source for documenting family history."
A guide to conducting oral history interviews is available at www. genealogy.com/genealogy/70_tipsoral. html. Questions to get conversation going might include:
What do you recall about your childhood? Where did you live and go to school? What was your hometown like? How did any historic events in your lifetime (wars, disasters, political changes) affect you?
Don't worry about whether the interviewee always stays on the subject. Sometimes "rambling" leads to the best family stories.
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