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Now is Perfect Time to Collect Oral Histories

The holidays, when family members are gathered together, is a perfect time to gather family stories as well. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more…

Too often, people lose loved ones and then regret not having recorded them sharing their life stories while they had the chance.University Extension Civic Communication Specialist David Burton says now’s a good time to record those oral histories if you’re still able to…

"The holidays are a great time because you have family members all getting together. Usually, there's plenty of time to visit and people typically sit around and tell stories anyway, and when you have all the family members together, that kind of helps bring up those collective memories, and that helps make the holidays a perfect time to do oral histories."

Burton says collecting oral histories doesn’t require writing a novel or creating a professional DVD. All you need is a video camera or even an old cassette tape recorder.The hard part for many people, he says, is getting started. He’s created a 20-page guide called “A History of Me” to help you begin the process…

"And it's just full of questions that typically would initiate a good response or a story that you might want to keep. Some of the questions begin with things like what were your favorite toys growing up and why or what were your favorite games? Do you remember never having enough food to eat? What's the first car that you remember your family having? Even questions about school--where they went to school and how they got there, a favorite subject in school. Those are all things that can help just sort of prime that conversation."

Some people pick up a copy of the booklet at the Extension Office for a small fee, fill in the answers after the interview is complete and give it to family members as a gift.The booklet is available at University Extension offices or online for free at extension.missouri.edu/greene.For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.