There was a time when tape recording was not an exercise for the timid. Equipment was heavy, bulky and expensive and the results were uneven. Plus, as the photo illustrates, not everyone responded the same way to the practice.
But almost all of us appreciate hearing stories from people close to us in their own voices. It's well worth the effort to get them and it's not nearly as difficult as it once was.
I was reminded of that recently on a visit with my mother-in-law. My wife and I have received a number of family items from her in recent years, but were unsure of the stories behind the items. We photographed each item and took the photos to her for identification.
While she told the story behind each item, I recorded her comments on a small digital recorder that I set on a table near her chair. After she was done and as I retrieved the recorder, she asked what it was. I explained and she commented that she hadn't even noticed it.
We got the information we wanted, in her own voice, and will add it to our own family history materials. The recorder I used was inexpensive, about $25, and I used the built-in microphone. With a lapel mike, I'm sure it would do even better.
There's a wide range of digital recorders available. You should be able to find one that works within your own comfort zone.
Digging deeper into Grandpa's past. Reporters and investigators have long used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover information about people they are looking into. All manner of government records are available under the FOIA, and access is not limited to journalists. Now comes a site that makes it easy to check for FBI records on deceased persons. The Get Grandpa's FBI File site will help you compose the actual letter, give you an idea on what sort of expenses might be incurred (they're minimal) and will direct you to appropriate field offices. Check it out.
Just for fun. Like to do jig saw puzzles? The JigZone site has hundreds that you can do online and has a feature where you can upload a photo and convert it to a puzzle. You can then share the puzzle with family and friends.
Coming up. July is Family Reunion month. Reunions are great occasions for launching family history projects. If you want some help in how to start such a project, contact me.