Shaking the Family Tree: Oral History and Family History


For many of us, family is the obvious—and sometimes most complicated—place to start our work as oral historians. In this workshop, participants will learn how to use oral history to document and preserve their family stories. We’ll discuss common challenges: convincing your family to participate, delving into sensitive subjects and secrets, and working with interviewees who may suffer from memory loss. We’ll also discuss the potential for oral history to repair and transform relationships. Optional evening activities include a mini family-themed movie fest and an evening of embarrassing family stories, of course!

This workshop is a good fit for novices or advanced oral historians embarking on a family history project—or for those exploring the nuances of “insider” interviews. Special topics: ethics, memory loss, individual and collective memory, song collection. All students receive a resource packet, which includes release forms and readings.