Kinsearching February 25, 2007




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Have you ever thought about taping interviews with relatives but wondered how to conduct them properly? Questions about what to ask and about the technology used to record them are answered in Linda Barnickel's new publication ORAL HISTORY FOR THE FAMILY HISTORIAN: A BASIC GUIDE.

     To get the best results from any interview, careful planning is a requirement. In addition to topics to be covered, things to consider include legal issues, the equipment to be used, accessibility, and aspects of long term preservation. Barnickel's oral history guide furnishes practical advice to help both novices and experienced researchers avoid common mistakes.

     Her guide begins with a discussion of the benefits of oral history and its relationship to genealogy, family tradition, and local history. She also examines the inescapable impact of the interviewer's questions, gender, age, and life experiences. Then she surveys media and technology (features of the equipment, power supply, microphones, etc.), transcription of the interview and how it may influence the type of media utilized, the legal necessity of a release form, restrictions, and copyright.

     The manual's major focus, of course, is on the interview: before, during, and after. One chapter, for example, concerns open and closed questions, traditions and folklore, historical and universal questions, strategies for dealing with controversial subjects, and descriptive questions. To help bring back the interviewee's memories, Barnickel suggests using photo albums and scrapbooks. She also makes recommendations for putting the narrator at ease, the length of the interview, and creating a good recording environment.

     Another chapter pertains to choosing a room for the interview, keeping the interview focused, waiting through silences, deciding when to sign the release form, and protecting and labeling the recording. The last chapter goes into detail about encountering recording problems, indexing, transcribing the interview, donating your oral history, and storing and preserving of analog and digital forms.

     Appendixes contain an extensive list of sample questions on general and historical topics, a legal release form, examples of a recording index, principles and standards of the Oral History Association, and the Oral History Program/Project Guidelines. A glossary and a list of suggested resources (books, recorded lectures, and internet) complete the work. Individuals who want to conduct a good, proper interview and conserve it for future generations will be able to reach that goal after reading ORAL HISTORY FOR THE FAMILY HISTORIAN: A BASIC GUIDE.

     The easy to follow handbook contains 70 pages and has soft covers. It may be purchased for $15.00 postpaid from the Oral History Association, Dickinson College, P. O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013-2896 (e-mail: You may also want to visit the organization's website at

     On March 10, 2007, the Celtic Heritage Society Permian Basin (CHSPB) will host a genealogy workshop at the Scottish Irish Faire at the Midland County Horseshoe, located at I-20 at Cottonflat Road in Midland, TX. Featured speaker will be prominent genealogist Lloyd Bockstruck, whose theme will be "I Didn't Find It on the Internet: What Do I Do Now?" He will discuss military records beyond the National Archives at 11:00 a. m., pitfalls in records searches at 2:00 p. m., and lesser used resources at 3:15 p. m. For the price of admission to the Faire (general public - $10.00; seniors age 60 and over - $8.00; and children under 12 - $5.00), you will have access to all three presentations. Doors open at 10:00 a. m.

     Persons attending the workshop may also enjoy activities by bagpipers, Irish and Scottish dancers, singers and musicians, mounted knight re-enactors, and participants in the "bonniest" knees contest. You can also sample fabulous food and purchase items from Celtic vendors. For additional information get in touch with Megan O'Hearn, CHSPB, 3510 North A, Suite B-100, Midland, TX 79705.

     If you are a descendant of Martin PALMER/PARMER (1778 - 1850), mark March 23 - 25 on your calendar for the dates of the 2007 family reunion. It will be held in historic San Augustine, TX, where Martin lived during the time of the Fredonian Rebellion in the 1820s. He later served as a delegate at Washington on the Brazos where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.

     Among the planned activities are a bus tour of San Augustine (sites visited will include Martin's property on Ayish Bayou), a presentation about Martin and the early history of the town, a speech about the Fredonian Flag, and opportunities to discuss family history and genealogy. For more information get in touch with Tommy Palmer, president, 10907 Hwy 36, Freeport, TX 77541 (home phone 979-798-1957; cell 979-299-7031; e-mail: or Eugene Dewveall, vice-president, 17226 Mesa Springs Court, Houston, TX 77095 (home phone 281-988-7333; cell 281-723-3733; e-mail: