Oral history is hot.
People everywhere are getting the message about recording their family stories. Whether on audiotape, videotape or digital media, there's nothing that compares with hearing a family story told by a family member.
Although my primary business is putting together a written record of a family history, oral history is an integral part of the process. Much of a written record is based on recorded interviews which become part of the overall project.
I've recently teamed up with a videographer to offer a comprehensive personal history package. Our collaboration makes possible the best of both disciplines.
The written record provides an in-depth narrative record of the family's history that, besides providing interesting reading material, serves as a primary reference book. The accompanying 20- to 30-minute professional video captures the highlights of the written work visually, told by many of the book's "main characters."
National Public Radio carries excerpts from its StoryCorps project every Friday on its Morning Edition program. The StoryCorps project features two mobile recording studios that travel the country, recording the stories of everyday America. The stories are testaments to the power of the spoken word. Some are available at the StoryCorps web site.
But StoryCorps is not the only oral history project around. There are many. Check them out. Perhaps you'll find an interview with a long-lost relative. At the very least, you'll come away with some ideas on how to incorporate oral history into your own family history project.