Recording history

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Every single person has a story to tell. As time passes, however, these unique looks at local life are lost. That’s why it’s important to grab them before they’re gone — and it’s something that can be as easy as recording a conversation on a smartphone.

These recordings might feature a variety of topics: An individual’s early life, or what they remember about the region. What locals did for fun; what it was like going to a one-room school. How they’ve seen the world change during their lifetime.

Such recollections are invaluable resources family members, and for historians of the future. Below, find a few sample questions to get a conversation started.

  • What is your name? When and where were you born?
  • How would you describe where you lived as a child? Was it in town or on a farm?
  • What was your family like? How would you describe your parents?
  • Please describe a typical day from your childhood.
  • How do you think people saw life differently in years gone by?
  • Did your family have any special traditions, both in everyday life and for holidays?
  • Looking back, what’s a time — a time period or a single day — that you would like to revisit? Why?
  • What were your grandparents like?
  • Growing up, what were your expectations for your life? Did they mesh with what was generally expected of people in your family or community?
  • What did you feel some of the greatest challenges were for you or your family/community as you grew up?
  • How would you describe (town/region) in years past? If you still live nearby, what are some things you think are different today than they were back then? Does anything particularly stick out as the same?
  • What did people in your community do on Saturdays?
  • What was dating like when you were a teenager?
  • What was going to a one-room schoolhouse like?
  • How did the Great Depression affect your family?
  • Were any members of your family superstitious?
  • What did you and members of your family do for fun?
  • How did religion play a role in your family?
  • Obviously things like technology make the world look different from how it did years ago. But overall, do you think people have fundamentally changed?