Learn about your family - learn about yourself...
How many of us have wished that we had recorded the stories told by our loved ones, that we had asked them to tell us more about their lives, their childhood, their parents and grandparents, their jobs and careers, their loves, desires and hates, their funniest memories and the times when they suffered pain? How many of us have waited until it was too late to ask?
"I remember my gran telling me what it was like to live in Yorkshire through the depression. She talked about means-testing, sharing food and coal with neighbours, and of hating the TUC for 'backstabbing' the miners. I found her stories fascinating but I didn't realise how important they were until years later, when it was too late. I wish I'd asked her more. I wish I could remember all the details. I hope she knew how much I valued the time she spent with me."
"When my children started asking about my family, their family, I realised that I didn't have all the answers. I knew that my grandparents had left Russia during the pogroms but I didn't know exactly why they left, or how they travelled to Britain, or who or what they left behind. I didn't know if they found it easy to settle into a foreign country, what challenges they faced, what kind of lives they had in those early days. I only knew about their later lives and it never really occurred to me to ask about their past. Now that my own parents are gone, I wish I'd asked about our family. Now, well, I feel that there's a gap, you know, pieces of my, our, family history are missing."
We are often commissioned to interview individuals who want to create a personal record of their life history for their families. Depending on location and individual circumstances, we can conduct a whole life history over one or two days, or over a series of sessions. Clients will receive an edited digitised audio recording of their interview, along with a time-coded summary and full transcript that also features your family photographs.
You may prefer us to interview a group of people, perhaps your whole family and/ or friends. Here, we would conduct individual interviews, with each person receiving a digitised recording, a summary and the full transcript of their interview. The commissioning client would receive a copy or copies of these to hold in the central family or friendship oral history archive.
- You may commission us to produce a digitally edited film containing sound clips from your oral history interviews alongside a collection of family photographs and images.
- If you prefer, we will create a bound collection of edited transcripts, text and images to tell your family 'story'. Please contact us to discuss your options.
Learn how to interview family and friends and create your own archive
Interviewing family and friends can be particularly rewarding as it involves spending time with loved ones and having meaningful discussions, not only about life experiences, but also about feelings and emotions, areas and issues that are often overlooked, taken for granted, or viewed as 'taboo'. This can strengthen relationships, create new understandings and establish an awareness of each others' hopes and desires for the future.
Sue delivers oral history training to families and/or groups of friends and helps them to understand not only the oral history process but also the sensitivity required when speaking with people about their personal experiences.
Interviewing people we know well requires special patience, understanding and skill. It works well when several relatives and/or friends undertake oral history training together so that everyone fully understands how the process works, how and when to ask difficult questions, and how the interviews will be used. Alternatively, you may prefer just one or two people to receive oral history training and then interview other family members or friends. Either way, trained participants are able to conduct interviews in the comfort of familiar surroundings and create an invaluable family archive that can be passed down through the generations.
Contact us to discuss creating your family and/or friends archive!
Oral History Research & Training Consultancy
Oral history heritage professionals serving Scotland and the UK
After our mum had a serious accident she started thinking about her past and all the family and friends she'd known. She told us lots of stories about her brother and sisters and growing up in Lancashire, and she talked about her school and leaving at the age of 14 to work in the mills. We realised that there was so much about mum and dad that we didn't really know. We then heard about Sue and asked her to help us record their memories. Sue was brilliant! She encouraged us to do a family oral history project involving not just mum and dad but all our relatives. She came down to Manchester and taught us how to do the interviews, what kind of questions to ask, and how to use the recorders. We interviewed our parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, and each other and we learned so much about our family history. We now have a fantastic family archive that we can pass down to our children. We enjoyed the project so much that we are now interviewing our friends and neighbours!
Jan and Jim