Recording Life Memories

Recording Life Memories for your Family:

I treasure recording the life memories of my grandparents who were married 70 years.   My cousin and I made a list of questions for Lucile and Richard Carr, who were born in 2014.  They sat side-by-side on a couch finishing each other’s sentences and laughing at stories not often shared.   I am grateful we took this oral history 10 years ago.  Today it’s a gift to share their stories in their own voices with my children. Recording Life Memories for your Family

As a senior, here are some ideas to record life memories for your family:

  • Use your computer or phone to record your stories and surprise your family.  You can start by just answering 1 question a day.  These recordings make priceless family gifts!
  • Write letters to your children & grandchildren about your life
  • Plan a family interview at your next gathering.  Let the kids interview the adults.  If possible, film the experience.  It’s so great to be able to see and hear from family years from now.

If you are going to conduct an interview of someone else, here are some thoughts on how best to record the stories:

Equipment Advantages Disadvantages
Paper and Pencil • Inexpensive.• Less threatening to people who are nervous about being recorded. • Impossible to record the interview word for–
word.
• Greater possibility of errors.
• Does not create an audio copy of the interviewee’s voice.
• Does not create a photo of the interviewee.
Audio Recorder • Relatively inexpensive.
• Can record the interview accurately.
• Enables immediate playback.
• Does not create a photo of the interviewee.
• Can make it difficult to determine who is
talking during group interviews.
• Recording equipment can be intimidating
to some people.
• Recording equipment can malfunction.
Telephone Recorder • Relatively inexpensive.
• Can record the interview accurately.
• Works well for elderly people who live
far away and who do not have the
energy to talk very long.
• Does not create a photo of the interviewee.
• Difficult to create the same rapport as faceto-
face interviews.
• Recording equipment can malfunction.
• Can be illegal if one of the persons being
recorded does not know that a recording is
being made.
Camera • Can create visual images of interviewee
as well as heirlooms.
• Does not create an audio copy of the
interviewee’s voice.
• Requires additional equipment to
accurately record interview.
Video Recorder • Can record the interview accurately.
• Can create visual images of interviewee
as well as heirlooms.
• Enables immediate playback.
• Expensive.
• Can be intimidating to the interviewee.
• More difficult to transcribe.
• Recording equipment can malfunction.
Digital Audio or Video Recorder • Records in digital format, which is
directly transferable to computer.
• Enables immediate playback.
• Can be easily edited electronically.
• More easily transcribed, since audio
and video tracks can be separated.
• More expensive.
• Can be intimidating to interviewee.
• Recording equipment can malfunction.

Table From FamilySearch.com

In tomorrow’s article I will share the questions we used for interviewing my grandparents.  Our hope is that you will make the time to take an oral history of someone dear in your life.  It will bless you for generations to come!
Kimberly Johnson
Senior.com Staff
Twitter @SeniorOnline

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson

As Senior.com Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well.  Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor.  Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver.  Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor.  She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.

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