“I wish I'd asked Dad while he was around.”
Far too often, my clients tell me that they regret not interviewing their father about his life story as they create their family archives.
For this Father’s Day, why not conduct an oral history interview of your father? You’ll not only create a memory, but you will capture stories for the next generation. Here some tips to help with your interview:
Do not think of the interview as an occasion to do family research. Rather, see it as an opportunity to spend time with Dad and let him talk about his life. The family stories will follow.
Your father may become frustrated if you interrogate him about names and dates he does not remember. Instead, get him talking and ask a few specific questions where appropriate.
Prepare a list of questions, but use it as a guide. The conversation should naturally lead to topics not on the list. If the interview goes too off-course, redirect it.
Looking at photos can spark memories, so bring along the ones you most want to know about. If you wish, you can use the photographs to guide your interview. Take notes on any details that arise.
Jot down notes during the interview, but writing the whole time can be distracting. Ask permission to record the conversation, assuring that the interview will only be shared with family members, if at all.
Transcribe the interview while it is fresh in your mind. Write out the whole thing, or use it to flesh out the notes you have already taken.
I’ve created a list of 40 questions to ask your father to celebrate his life. They are crafted to give you more than a yes or no answer and tailored to uncover information about the most important man in your life.
Enter your name and email address to gain access to the Family History for Fathers Kit, as well as a subscription to my newsletter:
Interested in interviewing your mother as well? Check out the list of questions I created to start a conversation with her HERE.
How about recording your life story? I've also created a workbook of 300+ personal history questions available HERE.
To learn the preservation secrets used by libraries, archives, and museums to protect their priceless materials (that you can also use for your family heritage items) read my book: