Finding a mother's maiden name back a few generations usually is difficult unless it was recorded or you knew her father's surname. So how do you find those hard-to-find records that may only exist in old land grants and property records? Listen to the podcast on making multimedia time capsules on genealogy, "Five Lectures for Writers." Have you ever tried family history archiving in multimedia?
It's about making keepsake albums, and social media as multimedia. You keep track of family history by archiving highlights and historical details in multimedia, keepsake albums, and social media as a way to bring your culture to personal or social media. And it's a new form of digital genealogy online or on disc, flashdrive, or other platform that easily can be transferred to new formats as technology changes with time.
If you want to record half-hour life story highlights or genealogy facts by interviewing people, how do you interview others to focus on significant life events, highlights, and turning points of experience to record life stories? You're about to make a family history time capsule, working together to present to future generations. Maybe you're at a family reunion or are planning a reunion and want to collect life stories. Where do you start connecting experiences? Linking lives? Check out the free audio MP3 podcast/recording online at Internet Archive, "How to interview to record life stories for time capsules."
Personal and family history begins with archiving videos, audio recordings, text transcriptions, and life stories on DVDs recorded in half-hour segments. Your information can be put into a time capsule. Start with a metal, waterproof, lightproof container, like a modern hope chest.
The time capsules may be multimedia, including video and audio recordings, text transcriptions of recordings, photos - digital saved on disks or flash drives, and paper photo preserved by easy conservation techniques. Text would go on vellum or acid-free paper and kept away from humidity and light. Any genograms--family medical histories, included, and memorabilia that you'd want to include in a time capsule for future generations, could go into that time capsule. Check out the books, Creative Genealogy Projects - Anne Hart or How to Start, Teach, & Franchise a Creative Genealogy Writing Class or Club.
In genealogy and family history research, there's a branch or specialty in personal and oral history video recording called videobiography. Autobiographies, biographies, personal histories, plays, and monologues present a point of view of significant life events, highlights or turning points. It's experience. In the limited space of storytelling for recording on DVDs or saved to flash drives and computers, or posted on websites to be seen around the world, what do you emphasize in a person's life story?
Memorabilia can be a collection of post cards with pictures and photos or diaries and family handwritten cookbooks that can be transcribed and saved on computers, printed out, and published on those print-on-demand websites such as lulu.com at no cost to the author to create a downloadable e-book, for example. You can save videos and audio recordings also without cost to you on such types of sites, keep them private, or make them public on sites such as Internet Archives.
Recording a Life History Significant Event in a Half Hour
Are all sides given equal emphasis in storytelling? Will the audience choose favorite characters? Cameras give fragments, points of view, and bits and pieces. Viewers will see what the videographer or photographer intends to be seen. The interviewee will also be trying to put his point of view across and tell the story from his perspective.
Will the photographer or videographer be in agreement with the interviewee? Or if you are recording for print transcript, will your point of view agree with the interviewee’s perspective and experience if your basic ‘premise,’ where you two are coming from, are not in agreement? Think this over as you write your list of questions. Do both of you agree on your central issue on which you’ll focus for the interview?
How are you going to turn spoken words into text for your paper hard copy transcript? Will you transcribe verbatim, correct the grammar, or quote as you hear the spoken words? Oral historians really need to transcribe the exact spoken word. You can leave out the ‘ahs’ and ‘oms’ or loud pauses, as the interviewee thinks what to say next. You don’t want to sound like a court reporter, but you do want to have an accurate record transcribed of what was spoken.
You’re also not editing for a movie, unless you have permission to turn the oral history into a TV broadcast, where a lot gets cut out of the interview for time constraints. For that, you’d need written permission so words won’t be taken out of context and strung together in the editing room to say something different from what the interviewee intended to say.
Someone talking could put in wrong names, forget what they wanted to say, or repeat themselves. They could mumble, ramble, or do almost anything. So you would have to sit down and weed out redundancy when you can or decide on presenting exactly what you’ve heard as transcript.
Gestures can be misinterpreted
When someone reads the transcript in text, they won’t have what you had in front of you, and they didn’t see and hear the live presentation or the videotape. It’s possible to misinterpret gestures or how something is spoken, the mood or tone, when reading a text transcript. Examine all your sources. Use an ice-breaker to get someone talking.
If a woman is talking about female-interest issues, she may feel more comfortable talking to another woman. Find out whether the interviewee is more comfortable speaking to someone of his or her own age. Some older persons feel they can relate better to someone close to their own age than someone in high school, but it varies. Sometimes older people can speak more freely to a teenager.
The interviewee must be able to feel comfortable with the interviewer and know he or she will not be judged. Sometimes it helps if the interviewer is the same ethnic group or there is someone present of the same group or if new to the language, a translator is present.
Check the Census records
Read some books on oral history field techniques. Read the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ). Also look at The American Genealogist (TAG), The Genealogist, and The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (The Register). If you don’t know the maiden name of your grandmother’s mother, and no relative knows either because it wasn’t on her death certificate, try to reconstruct the lives of the males who had ever met the woman whose maiden name is unknown. Look for women's, maiden names on church baptismal records, hospital records, school alumni groups or elementary school records, or marriage records when her father married her mother.
Look on census records of her father's house and in city directories. Court and tax records, notary records, and even dental or medical records may give you a clue to the woman's maiden name by searching her father's records such as census, military, or taxes. There's also records on tombstones and in family memorial books in a variety of languages and translations.
Maybe she did business with someone before marriage or went to school or court. Someone may have recorded the person’s maiden name before her marriage. Try medical records if any were kept. There was no way to find my mother’s grandmother’s maiden name until I started searching to see whether she had any brothers in this country. She had to have come as a passenger on a ship around 1880 as her mother bought a farm around 1889. Did her husband come with her?
Look for land and property records and what names were recorded in property deeds and tax records for ownership of land businesses, or houses
Was the farm in his name? How many brothers did she have in this country with her maiden surname? If the brothers were not in this country, what countries did they come from and what cities did they live in before they bought the farm in New England? If I could find out what my great grandmother’s maiden name was through any brothers living at the time, I could contact their descendants perhaps and see whether any male or female lines are still in this country or where else on the globe.
Perhaps a list of midwives in the village at the time is recorded in a church or training school for midwives. Fix the person in time and place. Find out whom she might have done business with and whether any records of that business exist. What businesses did she patronize? Look for divorce or court records, change of name records, and other legal documents.
Look at local sources. Did anyone save records from bills of sale for weddings, purchases of homes, furniture, debutante parties, infant supplies, or even medical records? Look at nurses’ licenses, midwives’ registers, employment contracts, and teachers’ contracts, alumni associations for various schools, passports, passenger lists, alien registration cards, naturalization records, immigrant aid societies, city directories, and cross-references.
Try religious and women’s clubs, lineage and village societies, girl scouts and similar groups, orphanages, sanatoriums, hospitals, police records. Years ago there was even a scary Eugenics Record Office. What about the women’s prisons? The first one opened in 1839—Mount Pleasant Female Prison, NY.
Check voters' registration lists
If your relative is from another country, try records in those villages or cities abroad. Who kept the person’s diaries? Have you checked the Orphan Train records? Try ethnic and religious societies and genealogy associations for that country. Most ethnic genealogy societies have a special interest group for even the smallest villages in various countries.
You can start one and put up a Web site for people who also come from there in past centuries. Check alimony, divorce, and court records, widow’s pensions of veterans, adoptions, orphanages, foster homes, medical records, birth, marriage, and death certificates, social security, immigration, pet license owners’ files, prisons, alumni groups from schools, passenger lists, military, and other legal records.
When all historical records are being tied together, you can add the DNA testing for ancestry to link all those cousins. Check military pensions on microfilms in the National Archives. See the bibliography section of this book for further resources on highly recommended books and articles on oral history field techniques and similar historical subjects.
If you're doing genealogy research in Sacramento, visit the Sacramento Regional Family History Center. It's located at 2745 Eastern Avenue. There are computers for genealogy research, an excellent collection of more than 20,000 library books, and special classes, for example a four-part course on "newFamilySearch." The center conducts a "writers workshop" on the second Monday of each month. You can register at the center.
Famous quotations on education, life, writing, and living
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)