Oral Sources of History

Oral sources of history are an important part of genealogy research. Do not miss out on vital genealogical clues by overlooking your family’s stories.

Oral history is one of the most overlooked parts of genealogy research.  It’s harder to come by and requires more time. Often researchers do not even know where to seek out sources of oral history.

Yet, oral sources of history from the older generations and collateral family members often contain the richest genealogy information. Information not found in formal records may only be found within a family’s stories.

Clues to a family’s migration patterns or even a name change can be unearthed. Oral history can reveal previously unknown (to you) family members. Oral history can reveal the location of old family cemeteries – the ones where the children used to play hide and seek!

Besides family history clues, learning about your family’s stories helps to deepen the connection with past ancestors and ground younger generations in the family.

Oral history is certainly not always accurate, and as long as we understand that fact, that’s okay. It does often contain a nugget of truth. As genealogy researchers, it is our job to determine the truth of the stories from the fiction AND discern where those clues lead next in the search for your ancestors.

Explore more about your family’s stories and what they mean to your genealogy research in posts such as How To Preserve Your Family’s Oral History & Why You Should! and Use Social History in Genealogy Research – Telling Your Ancestors’ Stories.


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