TIP #8

About a month ago I had the treat of meeting my husband's grandfather for the first time. Not only was I interested in meeting him for himself..but I had been told that he was the man to speak to regarding family history. Only after we had made a 1000 mile trip, did he decide that he really didn't know that much and reffered me to someone else!(who lived 500 miles in the other direction).

This was discouraging and dissappointing for me, as I had all my papers, blank forms, (extra pencils) in order to write down what he said. I also looked forward to a nice long pleasant conversation with him.

After a while, I realized there was really nothing that could be done about it. When someone in the family told me, if you want to get your information come inside and "dad" will tell you what little he can. None of the rest of us know anything". Needless to say, I got my papers and 15 minutes later I was sitting at a table with 16 people who all of a sudden knew everything...they just all decided to tell me at one time!

I had initially not taken my tape recorder or video camera as I didn't want to make the gentleman nervous or unwilling to talk. I had been told that some days he just doesn't like to discuss old history. Well, I wish I had taken it. I listened and heard from every direction and wrote as fast as I could. A date of birth here...a maiden name there. I could have used several recorders I think.

In the end, I got my information, or at least enough to follow that lineage. In some cases I got 6 different versions of it. Since I was also dealing with a family that was of Hungarian and Czechoslavakian origin, I was dealing with many different spelling variations and pronunciations. Although none spoke with an accent and they all spoke English..they all had a different thought on the original pronunciaton of the surnames.

After that experience I have come up with a listing of needs for my next interview or family visit:

Lots of Blank Paper

Concise, Direct Questions written down

Plenty of writing instruments