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Analyzing the Interview

After collecting information from an interview, analyze it and add it to the family records in pencil as a reminder that each fact must be proven.  Footnote all facts obtained in an interview very carefully.  At the top of a page, record the name of the person interviewed, address, age, date of the interview, biographical data, relationship and the main surname of the family being discussed.  Add additional surnames mentioned on separate sheets of paper. 

If a taped interview, play back the tape and extract the information of value to the family history.  Transcribing every word takes about ten hours of typing for each hour of interview.  In interviews where a tape recorder is not used, it is necessary to transcribe your research notes soon after the interview ends.  Deciphering handwriting is more difficult as time passes and one's memory fades.

If possible, return later and discuss the progress you have made in a family history project with people that you interviewed.  This will help the elderly remember other incidents forgotten at an earlier interview.  You can also discuss points that need clarification or that differ from information received from other relatives.  Be tactful in dealing with conflicting information.  A series of interviews may be required to solve some research problems.

If, after careful research, family traditions are in error, do be gentle and tactful in revealing this to relatives because they will probably not take kindly to the loss of their cherished traditions.  Make certain that you have documentary sources to prove your arguments and accurately footnote all information you discover.