18 December 2017

Interviewing a Relative

With the holiday season upon us and families planning to celebrate together, it seems like a good time to share some tips for conducting a successful interview with your relatives.

You may want to record the interview, so remember to start by asking permission to do so. Then, you may want to keep the following items in mind:

  1. Help the person relax and feel comfortable before you begin your questions.
  2. Keep other people from the room so your interviewee is not distracted. Turn off the TV and silence phones, too, so neither of you feel compelled to respond to texts or calls in the middle of your interview.
  3. If you are working with an older person, limit the interview to an agreed-upon time period and then stick to it so your person doesn't tire out. If needed, schedule a second interview at a later date.
  4. Always ask open-ended questions. Begin your questions with those trusty "5 W's and an H": Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Stay away from questions that can only be answered by yes or no unless that's all you want for an answer.
  5. Be careful not to put words in anyone's mouth. Phrase your questions carefully so you do not suggest the answers you want to hear.
  6. Be sensitive to your interviewee. If he/she seems reluctant to talk about certain subjects, stay away from them. Maybe try again another time, if it's important.
  7. Do not disagree with an answer that is given you, even if you know it's not correct. Arguing may shut down your interviewee.
  8. If a person wants to enlarge upon a subject, encourage them to do so.
  9. Finally, use visual aids such as old photographs, letters, and family memorabilia to stimulate memories.
Good luck and enjoy learning more about your family history!

Happy holidays to everyone. Your blogger/editor is taking time off to be with her own family and will be back with you in early January.

11 December 2017

Upcoming StLGS Events for Your 2018 Calendar

As the holidays are rapidly approaching and you are undoubtedly setting up your 2018 calendars, we want to help you get started with some upcoming special society dates.

Office Closure
First, as we have announced on Facebook, Twitter, and our website, the StLGS office will be closed on Saturday, December 23rd, so our volunteers can spend time with their families that day.

January Monthly Meeting
Our first monthly meeting of the new year will take place on Saturday, 13 January, at 10 a.m. in the auditorium at the Headquarters building of the St. Louis County Library, 1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard. We'll start the year with a panel discussion where you can "Ask Your Questions." So if you have a genealogy question that you've been struggling with, this would be the time to see if one of our volunteers can assist you. To help us prepare better, please email your question ahead of time to programs@stlgs.org.

Trivia Night

This popular fundraiser will take place on Saturday, 3 March, at the Maplewood/Richmond Heights Community Center. Always a fun-filled occasion, this evening event has rounds of interesting questions, a fabulous silent auction, and bonus rounds with excellent prizes. Registration is now open, and we do hope you will invite friends or just come by yourself and make new ones. Click here for more information and/or to register on our website.

Annual Family History Conference: Genealogy . . .  Finding Your Way Online!

Please join us at this year's all-day conference: Genealogy . . .  Finding Your Way Online! Featuring nationally-known author, instructor, and lecturer, Pam Sayre; Missouri State Archivist, John Dougan, and some of our experienced local speakers, this year's conference will take place on Saturday, 7 April, at Orlando Gardens in Maryland Heights. Registration is now open. Click here for more information and/or to register on our website.

04 December 2017

Holiday Gift Suggestions for Your Favorite Genealogist(s)

It's been a few years since we've published a holiday gift guide, due to space restrictions in News 'n Notes. But, now that we have unlimited space online, it seems like a good time to share some ideas on how to make your favorite family historians happy for the holidays. So, here goes . . .
Technology-related Gits
  1. Flash/thumb drives for using in libraries and sharing or moving files
  2. A portable external hard drive for extra storage or backing up files
  3. A subscription to an online/cloud backup plan such as Backblaze or Carbonite
  4. Extra supplies for digital equipment: memory cards, batteries, portable mini-tripods
  5. A subscription to Ancestry, FindMyPast, Newspapers.com or any similar service
  6. A DNA testing kit (Choose one of the major companies: FamilyTree DNA, Ancestry, or 23andMe. Select the one that has the most people in its database that are similar to your recipient. The more people with the same background in the database, the more accurate the results.)
  7. A genealogy software program or an upgrade to an existing program
  8. Gift cards to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store or to the appropriate store for their particular smart phone or tablet so they can buy additional apps.
  9. Gift certificates to local community colleges or adult education sponsors for classes and practice in using technology
Not Technological
  1. Archival quality photo storage boxes or photo albums
  2. Acid-free photo mounting supplies and/or photo marking pens
  3. Acid free, archival quality sheet protectors and/or paper
  4. Good quality three or four-inch D-ring binders for storing copies of sheets and documents
  5. Gift certificates to St. Louis Genealogical Society (or other local historical/genealogical societies) for membership, publications, and/or special events

Almost all genealogists are book lovers and you can't go wrong with adding to their collections. Try some of these . . .
  1. Any of the QuickSheets by noted genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills (or, better yet, her excellent book on source citations, Evidence Explained)
  2. The series of Genealogy at a Glance laminated booklets available in a variety of ethnicities: German, Irish, French, etc.
  3. Books on states of interest; for instance, any of the NGS Genealogy in the States series
  4. Books that are specific to areas of interest: neighborhoods, religions, occupations, or any other unique aspect of their family history
Remember, as a StLGS member, you are entitled to a discount on many of the products in our online store. Log in as a member to get your discount code before you shop. Or come by the office and see what we have available in our lobby sales area. We also have gift certificates available for any amount you choose. Have fun doing your holiday shopping or just treating yourself to a gift.