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via NPR LIFE KIT

Every Family Has Stories To Tell - Here's How To Document Yours

by Sylvie Douglis

NOVEMBER 18, 2021: Learning stories about our loved ones helps us to better understand the trajectory of their lives — and it helps us make sense of our own story. Here are five tips to guide you as you document your family history. Originally published on NPR’s podcast.

Tips For Recording With Your iPhone:

FIND A QUIET SPOT: Free of background noise and distractions with flattering light, if you’re recording a video.

SET YOUR INTERVIEWEE AT EASE: Make this time together playful and fun – you can always start over with a “Take 2” or “Take 3” if they have trouble finding the exact words they’d like to start with.

SET THEM UP: Have a little conversation prior to filming or recording to see what story they’re interested in sharing. I always pick one that they have a lot of energy around. You can use StoryCatcher’s “Interview Tips” for help. StoryCorps provides prompts as well. Remember, this time is about honoring them, refrain from the need to tell your own stories until after you’ve finished recording. Please DO share stories and consider taking turns recording each other.

LISTEN: It’s such a gift to be the space of listening for another. Remain present and fully engaged while the person relates their tale, giving positive visual cues along the way, such as nods, smiles, or empathic facial expressions.

GIVE THEM SPACE: Sometimes when people pause while speaking it’s because they are accessing an old memory. Don’t give in to the need to fill that space of silence with a question or comment right away – give them the chance to share what might be there for them. Patience is a gift. You might be surprised what comes out of that generous space.

Some StoryCatcher® Example Videos

“StoryCatcher® is more than a home movie and more than just a slide show. This app allows you to showcase small pieces of your…life in high quality videos without having to know any of the skills of a video editor!”

Shannon Combs-Bennett

Genealogist-Lecturer-Author, The In-depth Genealogist