How to Record an Oral History with Your Father

2010 September 7
Keep your Fathers' Stories

Keep your Father's Stories

One of the most special gifts any of us can give our fathers is the gift of listening.

“My father took me to school every single day from middle school until the end of high school. On the ride to school, he told me stories. On the way back home, he told me stories. I never really listened to the morning stories because I was too sleepy. I never listened to the afternoon stories because Iwas usually thinking about drama with friends or boys. During high school I felt too cool to hear his stories about how things were back in his day. -Maha”

That’s what I mean about the gift of listening. Maha is acknowledging, after her father had passed away, that she did not listen to the stories he told and by implication has missed out on a richness he was sharing with her. I am sure all of us have been guilty of the same actions as Maha but if you still have the opportunity to rectify it then do so. Now is the time to take action, so ask your father for his stories.

Stories about how he lived when he grew up, stories about your ancestors that your father knew andhad direct contact with or whose stories were passed on to him. Every single person has interesting stories to tell and those stories from your father are a part of your heritage and deserve appreciation. Your father’s stories about his work, the life and times he lived in, his experiences and what he thought about things, people and the events that were important to him.

Do not pass up the opportunity to have a dialogue with your father and preserve his stories so that you can pass them on to your children.

Lifetime Memories and Stories has put together a concise Free eGuide on How to Record a Life Story Interview with your Father. It provides short practical how to do it advice on recording your father’s story with a video camera or digital audio.

Why not make a start on recording your father’s story ? You might life to watch the Lifetime Memories and Stories video on Personal Memoir Writing which provides easy to follow practical advice on organising your thoughts when preparing personal memoirs and the How to Ask Questions for Family History podcast with Kim Leatherdale is a good resource when planning your approach to your father and handling any emotional charges that may exist.

Don’t wait till Father’s Day to celebrate fatherhood and male parenting, although this special day is set aside to honour and commemorate fathers and our forefathers. Father’s Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving, special dinners to fathers, and family-oriented activities.

There are records going back almost 4,000 years to Babylonian times where a young boy called Elmesu carved a Father’s Day message on a card made out of clay wishing his father good health and a long life. The modern Father’s Day is a celebration inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother’s Day and actually took place in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. The special day was organized by Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, who wanted to celebrate the lives of the 210 fathers who had been lost in the Monongah Mining disaster several months earlier in Monongah, West Virginia, on December 6, 1907.

Many of our parents come from an age where the oral history tradition of passing on stories was an everyday part of family life. I am sure that by taking the time to listen to your own father’s life story your own life will be enriched.

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