Today, it's easier than ever to conduct family history interviews with family. The Audio Recordings feature in the MyHeritage mobile app makes it quick and painless to have a relative sit down and document their story, allowing it to be preserved for the future.
How do you make sure that you're documenting the complete story? How do you get those juicy bits of family history that you're looking for?
Genealogical societies are essential to family history researchers. They provide resources, programs, conferences, and other important assistance.
MyHeritage is spotlighting these societies in a new series over the year.
Today, we look at the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), based in Austin, Texas, and established in 1976.Headed by D. Joshua Taylor, FGS represents other genealogical and historical societies. More than 500 member societies represent over a half-million individual members in those societies.
Memories, photos and documents provide a wealth of invaluable family history information. Interviewing family members is a great way to learn about earlier generations and discover more about your family heritage.
Interview older relatives first. They may be the only people who know from which country or town your immigrant ancestors came, or the spelling of an original surname, or any name changes made over the generations. Unless that knowledge is documented before they die or their memories fade, then that information may be lost forever.
Storytelling is a great way to add details to your family tree, and interviewing a relative is a great way to start. To help with your family history research, here are some tips for interviewing relatives.
As a journalist, I know that using more than one device is a good idea. There’s no telling when one will not cooperate. I prefer to use a digital sound recorder with an external microphone, and a video camera (with sound) as well. I also take notes and work from a list of questions.
Make sure you have a digital camera to take shots of documents or old photos; bring a small tripod one along (best: those with legs that can be twisted into any angle or used against your arm or shoulder to stabilize the camera). Not expensive, they take up very little room.
A portable scanner – getting smaller and less expensive every year – is another good idea to copy unframed photos and documents; always check the backs of photos and documents for notes, inscriptions, dates, etc. Use your digital camera to shoot framed photos hanging on the wall.
Practice using your equipment ahead of time – so you won’t waste time or annoy the person with technical glitches. Remember to take the lens cap off the video camera! If using battery-operated devices, bring along spares (or chargers). The Boy Scouts have it right: “Be Prepared.”
This week we talk to Jeanette Finlayson from the Central Queensland Family History Association. Queensland is a large state in Australia’s northeast.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Jeanette. How did you get into family history research and why are you so heavily involved with it now?
I am a retired teacher. Many years ago, I was having a conversation with one of my cousins from my Mother’s side. He was saying how fortunate we were that our ancestors had the foresight to migrate to this country. Of course, I agreed with him, and then thought how little I actually knew about their story, so I decided that as soon as I retired I would find out as much as I could about my maternal German ancestors and my Irish paternal ancestors. I have now been researching for 14 years, and have been richly rewarded by what I have found, and the people I have met. The story of my ancestors was one of hardship and sacrifices, and required great courage in their fight for survival in their new country. I am greatly indebted to them for the comfortable life I have today.
Anne Bradshaw is the author of the genealogy bestseller “True Miracles with Genealogy” and has written books for more than twenty years. She was born in England, is a spouse, a mother and grandmother, and has lived in the USA for many years. Besides writing books Anne has a personal blog and a website for her latest book.
MyHeritage.com talked to Anne about her interesting bestseller, her background and her kinship with the legendary singer Phil Collins.
For the people that didn't read your book could you tell us what it is about?
"True Miracles with Genealogy" contains fascinating family-history research stories. They’re the kind of stories where you know that ancestors were making things happen. Material came in from the USA and many other countries such as England, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. Each story is unique. It was inspiring to learn about the many different ways descendants discovered information.
The first-ever "One Family, Many Faces" festival drew throngs of families to the MyHeritage workshop with 50 computers manned by a team of 15 experts.
This overwhelmingly successful experience in interactive multi-generational family history was attended by families of all backgrounds and ages and took place at the Museum of the Jewish People, September 26-28, in Tel Aviv.
A record-breaking 1,500 family trees - adding some 32,000 individuals - were created at the three-day event. That count is now more than 40,000 because families are continuing to build their trees at full speed.
Parents brought babies, toddlers, young children and teens. Aunts and uncles arrived with nieces and nephews.
Grandparents brought their grandchildren so that they could share in the experience. Young children - to whom computers are an ordinary part of life - helped their non-technological grandparents.
Working side-by-side at computers were young couples just starting their lives together and senior couples recording details for their own parents and grandparents.
MyHeritage is all about uniting families, whether it is discovering new relatives or building a family tree together.
We spoke to several families and asked them why they were there:
John Phillips, a 78 year old pensioner from Sydney, has created a wonderful documentary “To Russia, With Love” about his wife’s search for her family.
For 67 years his wife Netalija and her cousin Marianna thought each other was dead, after being separated in the battle of Leningrad in 1941. The documentary records the first emotional meeting of Netalija and Marianna, and their families, after 67 years. It is dedicated to Dr Janis Licis who saved Netalija, her mother and brother from the German slave labour camps.
For many of us, researching our family history can be a long and slow process. Not so for Irakli Murtskhvaladze, who has uncovered 200 relatives in a short space of time!
Irakli lives in Tbilisi, Georgia and is CEO of TBC TV, a leading television studio in Georgia. Situated at the juncture of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Georgia is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, Turkey and Armenia to the south and Azerbaijan to the East.
Georgia has a population of approximately 5 million people, with 1.2 million living in Tbilisi, the capital. Although Irakli was born and lives in Tbilisi, his family name comes from the Western part of Georgia – Lechkhumi.