Saturday, July 23, 2011

Capturing Family Stories on Video

Have you been doing all you can do in capturing your family's stories? So many of us genealogists spend so much of our time looking through historical papers, digging through our personal archives or Googling our ancestor's names. Have you taken the time to make use of today's technology to capture your family stories?

As I've been cleaning out a lot of family ephemera from my personal archives, I feel like I'm uncovering a gold mine. So many of the documents, photographs, yearbooks have been stashed away for so long, I'd forgotten all about them. One of the items I discovered recently was an 8 x 10 photograph of my father working at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Lincoln, Nebraska in the 1950s. Before I let him reminisce and tell me about the photo, I grabbed my Flip video camera.

My camera work is a little shaky at first.


With video cameras built-in to many of today's smartphones, anyone can capture little snippets like this. It's nice to do these in short segments and have some kind of an idea what questions you want to ask. Photographs are a great way to allow your interview subject a chance to tell you about the photo.

As you can tell from the video, Dad thought the interview was over, but as soon as I turned off the video, he talked for another five minutes about the machine, what it did, and pointed out to me that he always went to work with a shine on his shoes!

So, when you do this - keep that camera rolling. You can always edit later.


  1. That is cool - and a great reminder that snippets are good. I tend to think I have to have some grand plan and everything all thought out with a list of questions etc. But this 3 minute snippet it priceless. Great idea for me with a family trip coming up. Thanks!!

  2. Diana - I have a digital camera with me all the time and my Flip Video is along a lot. It really takes a lot of conscious effort to remember to get the technology out of my purse when the moments arise.

    Hope you are able to get some great stories during your family trip!

  3. What a great way to record your family stories. I hope my dad will agree to being filmed in a few weeks!