As we continue to spend more time at home, we are keeping touch with family through phone calls or video calls. Take this opportunity to share a family story. Ask a simple question, and let the conversation flow. You will be amazed at how much you can learn about your family history. Keeping a pen and paper handy during the conversation will help you to keep notes and write the family story down after your call.
Prompting a Family Story
How do you bring up a prompt for a family story during a call, without seeming like you are a reporter on a mission? Well, we can answer this question from a couple of different standpoints. If you are eager to start (or continue) on a family history project, share your desire to get family stories with the person you are calling. You will be amazed how your family member reacts. You might just find out that others also want to work on the project with you. Or that may want to have you share your work as you get other stories.
If this is a casual interest, bring up a question that will make the person think back to their own experience to share. For example, maybe your kids are going though virtual school given the current pandemic. Try bringing up a prompt like this “Sarah is taking classes on the computer right now. She is struggling with this change from learning in person. She wanted to know how school was for you when you were her age.” Be ready with some other prompts to continue the story telling.
- “How did you get to school? Did you walk? Or take a bus? Or get a ride with other classmates?
- “How many kids were in your classes?”
- “Were you all in the same grade, or did you have a range of ages in your classroom?”
- “How much homework did you have every night?”
- “What was your favorite subject?”
Or you can invite your kids to handle the talking, and you can take the notes. They will have a great time asking questions and reacting to the answers they hear.
This doesn’t need to be a long interview, or a ton of questions. Getting in the habit of asking for family stories can be very rewarding. Whether you share this with other family members, or you journal it for yourself, keeping an oral history of peoples lives can be very important. We don’t want to be in the position of losing someone that we love and wishing that we had asked more questions while we had the chance. So take this opportunity and start the conversations now.