Whether you’re the family historian, or a little foggy on the details beyond your nuclear unit, working with your kids to compile a family history video is a great indoor project that will help them learn where they’ve come from. And who knows, one of the stories may spark an interest in a particular topic or time in history, too.
Your smartphone may have video capabilities, but you aren’t going to want to hand it over every time your child wants to work on the project. Instead, let them use a camcorder on a tripod and help them back up the files as they go. Some older family members may feel more comfortable if you use a digital voice recorder instead. Make sure you get at least some video of each person, though. Unless you’ve got a Mac in the house, you’re going to need some editing software, too.
Time for the interviews. Interview subjects always do a better job when they’re given a heads up about what you want to cover. Warm up Aunt Sue by asking her the vitals. Your subjects may think their age, job, where they live, who’s son or daughter they are and who their children are is boring stuff, but viewers will appreciate in posterity. Help your son or daughter come up with pointed, and open-ended questions like “tell me what you think was the coolest part about growing up in our family,” or “Who’s our funniest relative and why?” Ask older relatives about significant historical periods of their life. Ask each person to give a memory of their parents. And if you get stuck remember: grownups often like talking about when they were kids, and kids like talking about what they’ll do when they grow up.
They’ve got the gear and a list of questions. Guess who’s giving the first interview? You! Sounds like a great excuse to go get a professional blow out!