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  • Writer's pictureKristin Wenger

Don't Let Your Library Burn

As I mentioned in my last post about my Grandma Lucy, one of my greatest regrets is that I did not record the memories of my maternal grandparents before it was too late.

While records found through research can fill in some information for us, they can never begin to replace the rich, personal details that are only available from living family members.

Here are a few resources that will get you started:

"50 Questions to Ask Relatives About Your Family History"

"Suggested Topics and Questions for Oral Histories"

"Creating Oral Histories"

I have heard these wise words more than once in the last week: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” In other words, don’t let these resources overwhelm you and prevent you from getting started all. You don’t have to ask every single question. You don’t have to have fancy recording equipment. Just start a conversation. Use a few old photographs to spark memories and see what stories come out naturally. If you are simply too busy or it's not within your comfort zone, consider hiring a professional to take on the task. Make sure that you preserve the stories and wisdom of your “human library” for the next generation.

I am asking my husband's grandmother, Mary Kathryn Wenger, about her grandfather's wedding photo. (Photo taken 25 December 2017 by Eric Wenger).

[1] Kimberly Powell, "50 Questions to Ask Relatives About Your Family History," ThoughtCo. ( : accessed 23 January 2018).

[2] “Suggested Topics and Questions for Oral Histories,” ( : accessed 23 January 2018).

[3] “Creating Oral Histories,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 January 2018).

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