Interviewing Family Members

At times you will approach a family member and find him or her hesitant about being interviewed.  Here are some tips to overcome any resistance:

  1. Discuss why you want the information ie. the importance of having history documented for other generations to enjoy when the people in the albums are no longer available to share this information.

  2. Ask permission.  “Would it be okay if…” are powerful words.  They give control to a person who might have very little to control right now.  Don’t give up if you get a non-committal first response.  What seems simple and straightforward to you might seem very difficult or confusing to an elderly or ill person.  You may wish to show the person your scrapbook pages.  If you plan to use a tape recorder, show them this too.

  3. Ask if they have already written any life histories they might share. 

  4. Listen actively and ask questions.  Often a simple, open-ended question draws out so much more information.

  5. Ask if they have other people’s writings that particularly speak to them.

 Source:  Creating Keepsakes Magazine November 2000