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How to interview your relatives

Cynthia Brown, Oral History Society Trustee and British Library/Oral History Society Accredited Trainer, has these top tips for anyone new to recording a family history interview, but read the full article in the June issue to find out even more:

  1. Try to ask open questions rather than those inviting a ‘yes/no’ answer. For example, instead of asking ‘Did you like school?’ you could ask ‘What did you like most/least about school?’.

  2. Do remember that this is an interview and not a conversation! It’s very tempting to start talking about your own memories and experiences, particularly within the family – but try to resist this.

  3. Do give some thought in advance to the questions you want to ask, but don’t go armed with a list that you are going work through in a particular order. Give your interviewee plenty of space to talk about what is important to them.

  4. Practice with your recording equipment in advance and make sure you are familiar with how it works. There’s nothing worse than someone struggling to set things up while your interviewee waits impatiently to begin!

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