Hopes and Dreams and Loved Ones: Oral History
The Importance of Oral History --- verified as much as possible by genealogical research
As I look at my genealogy I am amazed at the grouping of people who came together supplying their individual DNA to eventually create me. Yes I know about me and my parents and grandparents but beyond that I know very little aside from a few oral history accounts passed down through the generations. And believe me I'm so grateful to my Aunt Julia Puentes de Espinosa who I spoke to every other week for 1.5 hours for two years before she died. Fortunately for me she had a mind that often put me to shame as she remembered stuff that I had forgotten.
I want to know more I want to know about the lives of relatives, about their hopes, dreams and their loved ones. I want to know about the work they did and their lives as children and sweethearts and how they met and married their spouses.
I guess I'm saying that if those of you who have a full head of steam in searching for more and more generations of relatives who you and the rest of your family has never heard of well maybe you should think again about the approach you're taking to family history
After all haven't those genealogical records been there for hundreds of years and won't they be available for a few more? Why not prioritize and ask yourself an important question. What won't be available for hundreds of years. . .well yes it is those relatives of yours that are currently living.
So if one day you decide that you want to add a little more to the genealogy of the family that you one day hope to pass on to your kids and other family members take great care to prioritize your activities now. Think about the oldest members of your family and make appointments to go and speak to them. Take a digital voice recorder and a camera. Ask if it is ok to record the conversation and set the recorder so it will not interfere with the conversation. Ask questions that don't require a lot of thinking about specific dates. A lot of time asking too specific of a question can totally disrupt or even stop a conversation. Rather than asking, "What year did g-grandfather Cecilio die" ask "Were you already marriend when he died, if yes, were any of your children born?" You see if you ask it like that you'll be able to calculate the date from known information and if they are up to the task you'll get a volunteer answer, oh "he died in 1913 in Juarez". Also make more of your questions general in nature and fine tune them as you go. . ."Tell me about what is was like when you went to school as a little girl? then you can ask "and did you and Uncle Felix go to school together?" and "Did grandfather Cipriano ever take you to school" and "after school did you go to abuelita Antonia's house, did you get a snack, did she put you to work, what did she look like?" etc. etc. etc.
Get your older relatives just talking about the old days and you'll be surprised how much they know, just let them go and they will give you all kinds of details.
So set aside the documents and interview your relatives.
Ok here is my real question but Oral History was the first and foremost answer to my question.
"Other than oral history what are the best places to find out more information about your relatives?"
Please add your thoughts to this list and give me your ideas of where a person can find some of the following for their locations in Jalisco, Zacatedcas, and Aguascalientes:
1) Old newspapers
2) Wills and Testaments
3) Land and Property Deed Records
4) Court Records
5) Military Records
6) Civil and Religious Organizations
email the list or email me at joseph [at] NuestrosRanchos [dot] com