Turning Interviews into Stories

Two Strategies

 

There are many ways to take your interviews and draw out stories. Usually interviewees will tell you stories and you can directly use those. However, there are also ways that you can create stories from the interviews. In this Task Sheet, Barbara identifies 2 strategies that she used in creating the webpage from her mother’s stories.

Completing Incomplete Stories

Sometimes our loved ones will share stories that have missing pieces. Perhaps their memory is a bit faulty or perhaps they never knew all of the information that would make the story complete.

To fill in missing pieces, you might consider:

  • asking others in the family,

  • looking through artefacts such as year books, diaries, letters and so on, and

  • checking with third person sources like newspapers, historical societies and so on.
     

Sometimes, pieces we find help to jog the memories of our loved ones and more of the story comes out.

Finding Themes and Connections

Many interviewees will tell small little nuggets of stories. Barbara calls these microstories. Microstories can be linked together through themes or other kinds of connections to form larger encompassing stories. Oftentimes, these encompassing stories are just beneath the surface of several microstories. With Barbara’s mom, there were quite a few microstories that had to do with being a child during the U.S. depression. Barbara was able to link these stories together through that theme in order to tell a more encompassing story that brough out the effects of the depression for a young girl’s life.

Barbara also made connections between some of the characteristics of storytelling her mom used and some of the childhood literature she read. This made it possible to create an encompassing story around that common characteristic—namely, attention to what people were wearing.