Preserving Your Family History Tips

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How to I preserve my family photographs?

Preserve Your Photo Heritage!

If you find yourself with a large collection of old family photographs, make sure that you're taking all the necessary steps to preserve them properly.

The following sites can give you the information you need to make sure that future generations will be able to enjoy this aspect of their family heritage:

Guidelines For Preserving Your Photographic Heritage by Ralph G. McKnight


How do I preserve my photographs?

Use Black & White!

Did you know that black and white photographs last longer than color photographs? It's true! The color images are chemically instable - especially Polaroid pictures.

So, in order to preserve your memories as long as possible, make sure you take some black and white photos of any memorable family or historical events along with the color photos. Your great-grandchildren will be glad you did!

How do I copy old photographs?

Make Photographs of Photographs!

Are there some old photographs that your Great-Uncle Jim just won't let out of his sight for duplication? If so, take a camera with you and take pictures of those pictures! You'll get the best results using a basic single lens reflex 35 mm camera - not the auto focus type. The basic lens on your camera, usually not less than a 50mm lens, will usually focus close enough to copy the old photos.

How do I plan for an oral interview

Plan First!

Before you begin interviewing members of your family, you need to sit down and make a few plans! Here are some things you need to consider:

1) If you're looking strictly for family history information - names, dates, places, etc. - start with your oldest relatives first. As we all know, but hate to think about, these loved ones won't always be around to share their knowledge with us.

2) Set an objective for your interview. Decide exactly what information you want to gain from the interview. Are you looking for names? Information about a certain event? Family stories?

3) Make a list of those people who will be most likely to fulfill your research objective, and contact them to see if they are open to talking with you.

4) Ask your interview subject to collect old documents or photos that will help trigger their memories and provide good fodder for interview questions.

What do I do when I can´t find something?

Begin With Yourself

Always start with the person you know the most about - yourself!

You may not think that writing down things about yourself is that exciting, but you are the starting link back to your ancestors. Each piece of information may lead you to another. Fill in the family record and pedigree charts with the information you know ... your birth date, birthplace, hospital born in, when you got married, attended college, which college, high school or grammar school and its location, etc. Do the same thing for your parents, your grandparents and all the other relatives you know about.

What questions should I ask in an oral interview?

Preparing Interview Questions

Once you've decided to do an interview, you need to prepare your questions.

To get the fullest (and most interesting!) answers from your interview subject, you should avoid using close-ended questions - those that require only "yes" or "no" answers. Use open-ended questions that will encourage your interviewee to talk, such as "Tell me what you remember about your family's first home."

Once you have determined what questions you will ask, place each question on an index card for easy use during the interview.

The following sites have lists of some great interview questions for your perusal:

What should I take with me to an interview?

Check Your Equipment!

Before you go to your interview, test your equipment to make sure it is in good working order and that you know how to use all the features.

Here is a list of items you should take with you:

Address of interview location
Map to interview location
Interview questions
Photographs or other items you want to ask about
Spare Batteries
Extension cord
Electrical adapter

If an audio interview:
Audio tape recorder
Audio tapes

If a video interview:
Video camcorder
Video tapes

It is a good idea to remove any wrappings from the tapes and label the tapes ahead of time. This will cut down on interuptions during the interview which may break up the flow.

What should I include in my scrapbooks?

Include Floorplans!

Wouldn't you love to know the layout of your grandparent's and great-grandparent's homes? Your descendants will appreciate *you* for leaving them this wonderful keepsake.

If you have a copy of the architect's floorplan of your home, you can have a copy center reduce it to a size that will fit into your scrapbook. If not, get our drawing tools and draw one yourself!

You can add pieces of fabric and wallpapers used, if you have any leftover. And don't forget to include room-by-room photos!

Why Should I Record School History?

Record School History

For those of you with children, a great way to preserve your family history is to start saving your child's school records or other special artifacts from their time in class. It is a neat way to pass down information about your family for generations to come.

Better yet, if you have special memories of your time in school, even though it may have been quite some time ago, start now by writing those memories down and putting them in a place where future generations can find them. Think about your favorite teachers, your favorite school activities and your friends. Write about them all. Try adding your yearbooks to your pile of information for an added bonus!

How can I keep track of my family history interviews?

Interview Organization

If you keep losing trace of where you are in the process of obtaining and organizing your family history interviews, here's a nifty little "Interview Tracking" form that can help you out:

Interview Tracking Form

How can I preserve my scrapbooks?

Use Archival Supplies

The best way to protect your scrapbook for future generations is to use an archival quality storage box.

Place your scrapbooks spine down or flat in the box, depending on box design and scrapbook size.

How can I preserve my oral histories?

Prevent Tape Disaster!

If you are recording family interviews or oral histories, don't forget to punch out the "tabs" on the cassette immediately after you finish with it.

This ensures that what you have recorded cannot be erased.

What should I do after an interview?

Safeguard Your Tapes!

After you've finished taping an oral history interview, make sure to create back-up copies of the tapes and store the originals in a safe place - like a safety deposit box. These tapes are now important archival material!

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