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Interviewing Family Members
1/9/2013
Ready to channel your inner Diane Sawyer or Larry King? Interview your relatives to capture family history details and stories.
The first time I met my second cousin Carolyn over the phone, I was struck by her quiet demeanor and soft Southern drawl. But I soon learned that under that gentle persona was an effective and tenacious family history interviewer. Carolyn is fearless. She identifies her goals, prepares her questions and then starts dialing the phone. She would make any telemarketer proud of her ability to overcome her fears and cold call unknown relatives. Her effectiveness is amplified when she conducts the interview in person. 
 
My cousin’s efforts have paid off in big ways. She established a new relationship with a cousin who was put up for adoption 50 year ago. At the end of another interview, a newly found relative was so impressed with her sensitivity that she gave Carolyn a large gilt-framed portrait of her great-grandfather.
 
Although Carolyn doesn’t claim to have a formal interview process, she naturally employs many good interviewing strategies—strategies you can use to connect with your relatives and reap the genealogical rewards. Just follow our eight steps for conducting successful family interviews.
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