Maybe you have a family member who tells the same stories at each special occasion gathering. Maybe you have a neighbor who can tell you all about the beginnings of your corner of town. Or maybe you know someone who experienced a big slice of history. Now is the time to sit down and record their thoughts.
Ask permission to do an interview. Prepare some questions. Use your phone to record in a quiet, comfortable spot. Limit your interview time so as not to overwhelm or tire out either of you. Listen.
Use open-ended questions that invite more than a yes or no response. You want to encourage conversation. Questions might look like these:
Tell me about your childhood.**How did you get that scar? **What was it like to live during the war?**When did you start your company and what gave you the idea?**Why did you decide to leave your country?**What lessons have you learned in life?**What do you want people to remember you by?
Send a thank you note. Transcribe the interview. Send copies of the interview to others who may want it. Check and see if the interview is appropriate for a local history society or other organization to preserve.
Oral histories can be magical for capturing a person's voice and memories. Once that person is gone, the interview is a touchstone for hearing that person and his/her inflections and mannerisms. The interview connects people in ways we may not anticipate.