A Great Time To Tell Family Stories

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Visiting with family this summer? Here’s an easy way to have fun reminiscing AND get the family history recorded for posterity at the same time!

This was the week for an unplanned family reunion, but when it happened I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could record some of our family stories?!” I happen to be working on a book about our parents and our family growing up and I wanted it to be more than just MY perspective, so here’s what we did.

Family Reunion Camera Setup

We had one tripod with a cell phone holder to take a video of us talking, and that would have worked just fine, but I wanted two views of us talking so Charlie went to Wal-Mart and found an inexpensive but pretty decent tripod for less than $14, and get this: It even had an attachment to hold a cell phone and another attachment for a Go-Pro camera along with the normal camera mount, so that was really cool.

Here’s our set up. It’s very simple. Just be sure to check for distractions like glasses glare or a backlight that leaves faces in the dark. We have a glass sliding door behind the couch so we covered it with dark cloth to keep us from being backlit.

Family Reunion Camera Setup

Then we just turned on the video recorder on both cell phones and recorded our conversation. ……..

It doesn’t have to be formal or highly planned but it does help if you have SOME kind of plan.

We agreed ahead of time to go in a chronological order starting with our earliest memories of childhood in each place where our family lived so we would confine our discussion to one place instead of the shotgun method of talking about any topic that came to mind. Once the stories for one location or era kind of died down we went on to the next section of our family history, and that’s also a good time to take a break if you need one.

Each person in the family is going to have a slightly different view that adds flavor to the history but you’ll also discover which memories are common to each of you and those are the memories that might be the best to include in a book about your family.

We did several videos over a period of three days—not the whole day but each day we did some recording. So what do you do with these recordings? Well, you start by downloading them to your computer and placing the videos in an appropriate folder in your main Heritage or Family Tree folder.

I’ve already done that so next we’ll upload the videos to Temi.com to get a transcript. It’s a lot easier than transcribing it yourself and it’s very cost effective.

Eventually we plan to create an edited version of the videos and when we do that I’ll be sure to share our thought process for how to put a family history video like that together. But even if you never get an edited video done, you still have the original movie clips with the family stories told straight from the horse’s mouth! So next time some or all of your family gets together, whether it’s a planned event or not, why not get at least some of the family stories recorded for posterity?

Update: Little did we know our mother would fall and land in the hospital the day after we had this impromptu reunion. She died a week later. The sand is slipping through the hour glass for gathering our family history. I’m so glad we took the time to record our memories!

If you’re interested in your family history I invite you to sign up for the latest updates, tips, and tricks for finishing your family history: Family History Hero News.

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