The Importance of the Family History Interview

When doing genealogy research, the focus tends to be on the vital statistics of your ancestors.  When they were born, where they lived, who and when they married, what their children’s names were, when they died, and where they are buried.  These are the bread and butter of genealogy and I love these records because they give you dates and a timeline and geographical information.  However, what they don’t give you, and what I find myself increasingly wishing for is a personal connection to your ancestor.  For example, I have a Great-Great-Great- grandmother, Phebe (Avery) Jones, who through her lifetime, went from North Carolina to Indiana to Iowa to Missouri to Montana.  This is the information I have gathered vital records and census data.  What I don’t know is why.  The most intriguing of my why questions is, why would a 60 something year old woman make the trek from Missouri to Montana in the 1870’s?  What I wouldn’t give to find a diary or journal or letters from her.

Ok, back on track now…we can’t go back in time and talk to our ancestors about the how’s and why’s of their lives.  But, we can talk to the generations still here with us to make sure we find out everything they know as well as the opportunity to pass down a part of this knowledge to the future generations.  Recently, I have been reminded that time is a fleeting thing and that you may not have as much as you think you do.

My grandmother, the one I sometimes talk about on here, has had a bit of a health scare recently.  She had to have an emergency surgery last week and now that terrible C-word has come into play.  The doctor sounds quite optimistic and with some chemotherapy, it sounds like there is a very good chance that things should be just fine.  Everything that has happened recently has made me realize two things.  First, just how important my grandma is in my life and that I need to tell her this a lot.  And second, that she isn’t going to be here forever.  It is easy to put off doing something like an interview of a family member thinking that there is more time, but the fact is you never know just how much time there is so don’t put it off.  I have heard stories from my grandma about her parents and siblings, but I have never really sat down with her with a recorder or video camera and had her tell me her story.  This is the connection to the past future generations will be searching for.  I think that I am lucky and still have time on my side, but you can be sure that I won’t be putting off this interview anymore.

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Categories: Jones, Tallman | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The Importance of the Family History Interview

  1. JaseR75

    My grandmother has been gone 10 years today. I’ve been working on my family history for the last 20 years. Luckily I was able to gather every bit of information I could from her. She was such an important part of my life. I truly think our ancestors help to shape who we are. I really enjoyed this post and I’m going to follow your blog. Thank you!

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