July 16, 2017


Why Family Sounds?

Stories make us who we are. They give meaning to our lives and allow us to share this meaning with others. They also make up the memories that live on beyond ourselves, allowing for communication that withstands the test of time. Passing stories down through generations is how we understand where we came from and what it was like to live in a different time. It’s how we create history.

Our stories of family history are heirlooms that get shared around the dinner table or at family reunions. They can fill us with laughter or tears, but always seem to touch us with a sense of love and comradery. As people we care about grow older, their personal stories continue to be enriched and developed through life’s journey. Realizing the value of these stories naturally leads us to consider how they will be preserved. We often pass our life stories on through word of mouth, sometimes write them in memoirs, or maybe record to preserve our family heritage.

The desire to share and preserve our precious stories has also created a professional services industry. Personal historians offer large-scale projects to write books or produce movies that document lives. While these methods can be effective, they often require a significant commitment of time and resources. Long-form biographies or documentaries can also be inaccessible to the casual spectator. They cannot be easily shared or consumed by friends and family who want to hear about the lives of people they love.

Family Sounds was born out of an idea to offer a new way of sharing these stories. A way to capture invaluable voices and form captivating narratives. Audio documentaries allow the freedom to craft a storyline that will best fit personal life history. Our team of professional storytellers specializes in transforming oral history into engaging productions that can be shared and enjoyed by anyone curious about the lives of others.


Q: What is oral history?

A: Oral history refers to the documentation of personal accounts relating to historical events. It’s a way to capture history through subjective human experience. Oral history projects allow individuals to share a perspective on their lives and events they have witnessed. Ideally, recordings can be stored and used by future listeners who have an interest in the lives of subjects.


Q: Why preserve oral history?

A: Oral History is an invaluable way of preserving legacies. Recordings allows precious voices and stories to be shared and passed down to future generations. Personal stories provide a unique form of historical commentary and allow access into the minds of people who lived before us.


Q: Who should take part in documenting oral history?

A: Since we all experience our own special journey in life, oral history allows everyone a chance to be heard in the historical record of mankind. Oral history is the ideal avenue for ordinary people to share personal experiences and perspectives that would otherwise be forgotten. There is no prerequisites or qualifications that are necessary for taking part in the documentation of oral history.


Q: Who benefits from documenting oral history?

A: Oral history accounts create value for a wide range of people. First, individuals who have an opportunity to share thoughts and stories from their lives often find great joy in the act of reminiscing. Taking part in oral history interviews allows people to consider meaningful questions and reflect on nostalgic memories. And of course, all the listeners are beneficiaries in in their own ways. Everyone from the person conducting the interview, to casual listeners who never personally knew the subject. Family members, extended social circles and historians are just a few examples of listeners who benefit from oral history records.


Q: How is oral history recorded?

A: Technology allows for multiple methods of documenting oral history accounts. People are able to use either video or audio recording devices and choose from various formats for the content of each production. Oral history can also be transcribed in order to maintain a written account of what is said.


Q: How are oral history interviews conducted?

A: Interviews can be conducted by trained professionals, family members or anyone with an interest in inquiring about the lives of others. The subject is asked to recall memories or tell stories from their past. Interviews can be designed to cover specific questions or to give the subject freedom to direct the dialogue. There is no standard design for oral history interviews. Instead, various strategies can be implemented in order to capture the desired effect.


Q: How is oral history preserved?

A: Oral history records can be kept through either public or private means. Often, institutions such as museums and historical societies work hard to compile and store recordings for public use. In other cases, private families or individuals hold onto recordings for their sentimental value. Although most recordings today are in digital form, oral history can be stored in various formats depending on the technology used.


Q: What is the relationship between oral history and podcasts?

A: Oral history projects and podcasts share a foundational goal: storytelling. Podcasts are a medium to present stories to an audience in audio form. Oral history is used to document personal stories that can be shared in a similar way. Both podcasts and oral history can utilize interviews and conversation to engage listeners in a narrative. It is one way that technology has allowed us to share our voices to entertain, inform or educate a wide audience.