African American Resource Center
New Orleans Public Library

African American Genealogical Research in New Orleans
Conducting Oral Interviews

Conduct interviews with family members and relatives, especially the older members in the family, to assist you with filling out the family chart and family group sheet. Take written notes and date them. If possible, tape the interviews in order to keep them as a permanent record. Ask basic questions of interviewees: Where and when were they born? Who were their parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents? Where did the family live or die? Where are they buried? Ask for home addresses, cities, counties, and states of residence.

If the interviewee is not clear on dates, try to get an approximate date by asking questions related to their life. For example, how old were you when your mother or father died? Where were you living when your grandmother died? Perusing old photo albums is an excellent way to get interviewees to reminisce about the past, which might also trigger their memory of past events. Information from oral interviews can be very important in providing a starting point for further research into vital records, census materials, probate records, and church records.

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