Update on Taping Interviews

I have an update on the recent blog about keeping interview tapes. I received a note from the son of the lady mentioned in that blog. Follows is an extract from what he wrote, modified only to protect the family’s privacy:

Dear Tom,

The DVD you gave us this past Tuesday night was like a gift from heaven. As I started to watch it, it became like a magnet as the rest of the family began to fill the room.

Remembering my mother’s last dying days with the physical changes all so often present on elderly who are near death was really difficult. The DVD interview was “vintage Mom,” the woman we could all relate to with love and respect. To hear her voice again and see her mannerisms was truly a timely gift to ease the grieving process. The entire family wishes to thank you very much.

I doubt that I have done anything unusual here. That is the point of these blogs. Numerous writers interview elderly people every day and most at least make audiotapes of the sessions. These tapes are little different from the one I gave this family and would likely be as welcomed by other writers’ subjects’ families as this one was. Few people think of taping their loved ones while they are still at their best. It is essential for writers that their subjects be in pretty good condition mentally so that the sessions are worthwhile. An unexpected benefit is that, in many cases, the interviews will be of interest to their loved ones, particularly if the person is talking about themselves or other family members who may have passed.

I strongly suggest to other writers who conduct interviews when researching their books that, when one of the people they have interviewed passes, they give a copy of the interview to the person’s loved ones. It costs very little to do this and you may be providing the family with the only movie they have of that person. They in turn can pass it on to the next generation.

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