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> I Spent The Whole Night Coloring Eggs
"A house without an elderly person is like an orchard without a well."
Hearing the experiences of our parents and grandparents gives us a sense of continuity and belonging and confirms that our existence is not arbitrary. The memories recorded here are the basis of our heritage.
How to use this section:
The entries in this section are in the list to the left of this text. Simply choose one and you will be able to read it (and comment on it if you wish).
Just click on add an Oral History (above right) and you too can contribute to this section of the cultural archive.
Help in writing an Oral History
Here are some questions which might come in handy if you are writing your life story or interviewing someone about theirs. It is adapted for this site from a list compiled by Heather Venn.
1. Your Birth
- Where and when were you born?
- Was there anything special about that day?
- Were you born on the way to hospital or in the family home?
- Are there any anecdotes about you as a baby?
- Did you have any health problems or were you particularly lively as a baby or toddler?
- Are there any significant or funny family stories surrounding your birth or early childhood?
2. Your Family
- What do you know about your parents and grandparents?
- What were their names and nicknames?
- Do you know where and when they were born?
- What did they look like?
- Did anything exciting happen to them?
- How many brothers and sisters do you have?
- Were you born into a large family or were you the only child?
- Can you remember your first family home?
- What was your childhood like?
- Did you have to share a room with your brothers of sisters?
- Can you remember what it was like?
- How have your relationships with your siblings and parents developed over the years?
- Where did you grow up?
- Did you move house, to another city, another state, or another country?
- What was It like to move?
- What was your favourite home town?
- What was it like growing up where you did?
- What were the people in your home town like?
- What did your home look like?
- What changes did you notice over time?
- When did you first go to school?
- What school did you go to?
- Who was your best friend when you were small?
- Was school a positive experience for you?
- What did you do during the school holidays?
- Did you play sport?
- What toy was all the rage when you were at school?
- Did you learn to dance?
- Did you have any favourite toys?
- What were your favourite books?
- What work did your parents do?
- Did you help them?
- Do you remember any extreme weather you experienced as a child?
- Did you have any animals around the house or in the fields?
- Did you help with them?
6. Special Events
- Do you have any memories of Christmas Day or Easter?
- Did you go to church?
- Did you have a special family traditions?
- Did you visit relatives for special events or holidays?
- How did they celebrate their special days?
- What was the rest of the community's reaction to your family's special celebrations?
- Did your family have a special tradition all of its own?
- Did you go on holiday to a special summer/winter place where your family went?
- What was your favourite New Year's Eve?
- Where did you go?
- Who was with you with?
7. Teen years
- What can you remember about becoming a teenager?
- Did you grow quickly or did your school mates sprout up before you?
- Did you cruise through puberty or was it a difficult time for you?
- What secondary school did you go to?
- What differences did you notice about the kids around you?
- Did you settle in easily?
- Did you find study difficult?
- What were your favourite subjects?
- Who were your favourite teachers?
- Did you play sport for your school?
- Who was your first boyfriend/girlfriend?
- Did you ever get to the movies as a child?
- What movies did you watch that you remember fondly?
- What did you do for entertainment?
- Did you listen to radio?
- Were you interested in the fashions of your day?
- Did you wear clothes that are funny to look at now?
- Are they back in fashion?
- What was your first job?
- Did you enjoy your job?
- What career did you hope to have?
- What was the best/worst job you ever had?
- When did you move out of home?
- Did you travel?
- Who was your first love?
- When did you marry - do you remember the first time you met?
- What was the first home you owned like?
- Did you join any community or political organisations?
- Did you continue or return to study?
- What changes in career path did you choose to take them?
- When did you decide if you wanted to become a parent?
- What were your reasons?
- What other life decisions did you make as an adult, that was different from how you were raised?
- Did your beliefs change, as you grew older?
9. Migration (If you or your parents migrated)
- When was the decision made to migrate? Did you want to stay?
- Did your whole family come?
- Where did the journey start and where did you stop on the way?
- What was the journey like?
- Where did it end?
- What were the first reactions upon seeing the new country?
- Were relatives awaiting you?
- Did you feel welcome?
- What did you do in the first few days after the arrival?
- What were the most wonderful experiences of your life? (falling in love, getting married, children being born, winning something, helping someone, meeting someone?).
- Do you remember the most difficult moments in your life? Would you like to reveal them?
What cultural differences did your family have from mainstream society?
Did you experience a culture clash?
What cultural traditions did you follow?
Did you experience greater difficulties, as you grew older?
Did you embrace your family's traditions or rebel?
13. Your Wisdom
- What experiences have made you who you are?
- What things have you learned which you would like to pass on to the reader of your biography?
- Experiences about family, friends, money, expectations, life?
- Try to remember as many of your friends as you can.
- If you have any school photos, go through them and try to remember their names, then try to remember something about them.
- Who were your schoolyard friends?
- Who were your work friends?
- Who were your special friends?
- Did you lose contact with some friends and then meet up with them years after?
- Did you become friends again?
- Think about the friends you have today and compare them to the friends of your past.
- How different or similar are they?
- How would you sum up your life?
- What would you like to be remembered for?