Thursday, December 21, 2017

StoryCorps' Great Questions

With friends and family gathered together at this time year, it's a good time to share memories or start collecting oral histories. StoryCorps has a list of great questions to help you get these conversations started. Here are few favorites:

  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • Are there any funny stories or memories or characters from your life that you want to tell me about?
  • If this was to be our very last conversation, is there anything you’d want to say to me?
  • If you could interview anyone from your life living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?
  • Do you remember any songs that you used to sing? Can you sing them now?
  • How would you describe a perfect day when you were young? 
  • When you were young, what did you think your life would be like when you were older? 
  • Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence on your life? Tell me about them. 
  • What lessons has your work life taught you? 
  • Do you have a love of your life? 
  • What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life? 
  • What traditions have been passed down in your family?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Family History Apps

The holidays are great time to share family memories. Here are some apps and website that can quickly and easily preserve family stories.

With the StoryCorps app, you can interview your family members anytime, anywhere. The app walks you through the interview process, helps you develop questions, records the conversations and uploads the audio to the Library of Congress. 

The Memories page on FamilySearch allows you to upload and store documents, photographs, and stories. You can even upload audio to the site. Access FamilySearch Memories on your computer or as an app on your mobile device.  

Have you wanted to write a memoir but didn't know where to start? StoryWorth is an email-based story-telling subscription service that will email you one question or writing prompt a week. After a year, your responses are bound into hardcover book. This is a fun and easy way to record your story for future generations. 

Family history should be more than just dates and places. TreeLines is a collaborative site that helps you add stories and memories into your family tree. Upload your tree or start one from scratch. 

Create interactive timelines with Twile. Build your tree, then add milestones, photos, and memories. Twile makes your family history attractive, accessible, and engaging. 

Don't forget note-taking apps like Evernote can also be used for recording and storing family histories. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Genealogy Memoirs

Most genealogy narratives outline a family's history and keep the researcher largely out of the story but the following books are memoirs about the genealogist and the research process itself. The writers discuss not only their family histories but share their reasons for starting their search, their stumbling blocks along the way, and the insights they've gained while doing their genealogy.

A.J. Jacobs has received some strange emails over the years, but this note was perhaps the strangest: “You don’t know me, but I’m your eighth cousin. And we have over 80,000 relatives of yours in our database.” Who are these people, A.J. wondered, and how do I find them? So began Jacobs’s three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history. Jacobs’s journey would take him to all seven continents. He drank beer with a US president, found himself singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. Jacobs upends, in ways both meaningful and hilarious, our understanding of genetics and genealogy, tradition and tribalism, identity and connection. It’s All Relative is a fascinating look at the bonds that connect us all.

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty traces the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine. From the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields, Twitty tells his family story through the foods that enabled his ancestors’ survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia. Along the way, he reveals the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

My European Family: The First 54,000 Years by Karin Bojs
After the death of her mother, Karin Bojs decided to use DNA research to learn more about herself and her family. She went deep in search of her genealogy, having her DNA sequenced and tested, and effectively becoming an experimental subject. The narrative travels the length and breadth of Europe, from the Neanderthals of central Germany to the Cro-Magnon in France. This fresh, first-person exploration of genes and genetics goes well beyond personal genealogy and reveals much about the shared history of European peoples. This is a good introduction to how DNA research tracks the movement of people across history.

Journeys Home: Inspiring Stories, Plus Tips and Strategies to Find Your Family History
This compelling narrative addresses ancestry tourism and travel. Actor and award-winning travel writer Andrew McCarthy's featured story recounts his quest to uncover his family's Irish history, while twenty-five other prominent writers tell their own heartfelt stories of connection. Spanning the globe, these stories offer personal takes on journeying home, whether the authors are actively seeking long-lost relatives, meeting up with seldom-seen family members, or perhaps just visiting the old country to get a feel for their roots. Stunning images, along with family heirlooms, old photos, recipes, and more, round out this unique take on genealogical research.