Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview your grandparents!

Back in 1986, I interviewed my grandfather, James Vernon Cravens (Jack Cravens), regarding his Army service during World War II from 1941 - 1944. "Papaw" served in the Aleutian Islands (Alaska). I recorded our interview on audio tape, transcribed the interview years later, then researched the places and people he talked about, adding lots of historical notes and maps into the transcription, to further explain the things he talked about, and put it altogether into a 32-page document. I gave each of my siblings a copy of the document and the recording, then made the document available online.

In the summer of 2009, my grandmother gave me her and my grandfather's scrapbooks they kept during WWII. I scanned a few images from my grandfather's in October 2009 and shared them on Flickr; over the 2010 Memorial Day weekend, I scanned many more. There's now 56 photos and scans of postcards on Flickr, and the set has had about 200 visitors so far.

I'm really glad that the Internet allows me to share this time in my grandmother and grandfather's lives online with anyone who is interested (and that I had a brief moment of wisdom to record such). I strongly encourage you to talk to your grandparents about their lives, to record your interviews, and to scan photos relating to their stories. Did they live through World War II? Other wars? The Civil Rights Movement? A big disaster? Do they remember when JFK was elected, the Cuban Missle Crisis, or when JFK was shot? Do they remember Martin Luther King's marches, or when he was killed? Where were they when men first walked on the moon and what did they think? There's so many things you could ask them about -- and so much you will learn.

My next project? Transcribing two tapes I made interviewing my grandmother about her time in the Depression, World War II, and during various major events.

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