National Day of Listening

November 8, 2013  - by 

Did you know there is an official National Day of Listening in the United States? It is the Friday after Thanksgiving. It’s a day when Americans are encouraged to spend time talking with their families and recording their stories. Certainly, it doesn’t have to be an American day only. Anywhere you live and anytime you get together with your family, you have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about your family and your family history. Memories of living individuals are called living memory or oral history. This is the history we are in most danger of losing. Celebrating a Day of Listening can help save this history for generations to come.

There are new ways to help you preserve living memory. Several FamilySearch libraries now have oral history rooms. The San Diego California and Riverton Utah FamilySearch Libraries have rooms with comfortable seating and state-of-the-art equipment that makes a digital recording and saves it to a flash drive. Families are bringing in grandparents to interview. One group of granddaughters brought in their grandmothers to tell family stories. Sometimes a family group will come and tell stories to each other about a relative who has passed on. One family brought in a child for his birthday and told stories about the child! These recordings become treasured keepsakes.

The Logan Utah FamilySearch Library has carved out a room under the stairs, a room that used to be a closet! The Brigham City Utah Family History Center has a portable oral history room. They purchased a digital video recorder and some lights and borrow the furniture from the local church foyer. The Logan and Brigham City centers have agreements with their local adult care centers to make recordings for residents who would like to share their stories. But usually it is families who make appointments for an allotted amount of time to use the room and equipment.

While digital recordings are amazing, you can simply use your Day of Listening to do just that—listen and write! If you don’t know where to start, there is a great guide to creating oral histories on the FamilySearch Wiki. Another resource is StoryCorps, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide people with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their stories. StoryCorps and the FamilySearch Wiki offer extensive lists of possible interview questions and tips on their websites. Also, check with your local family history center. They may have equipment or ideas to help you with your Day of Listening.

During this time of year when we spend so much time with our families, consider setting aside part of one day and celebrate a Day of Listening. Record or write down living memories, and preserve your family stories for generations to come.

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  1. We have just started going down this path, starting to collect equipment, software and putting together a plan of action. Interested in any other Center that may have technical success stories to share.

  2. When will the audio or video story recordings be able to be added to Family Search story section?

    We have heard rumors but what is the real answer?

    1. I talked to the programmers just a few days ago. There is no projected date. As cloud storage becomes less expensive, this is definitely a Family Tree add on that is waiting in the wings.

  3. At the Brigham City Family History Center, even though we don’t have a dedicated room available, we just “borrow” a corner of the Relief Society room, bring in two comfortable chairs from the foyer, and add a plant between the chairs for decoration. We then set up our tripod, camera, lights, and DVD recorder and we’re ready to go. We recently had a very wonderful experience with a daughter interviewing her 84-year-old mother who was visiting from out of state. They talked about her life experiences and the daughter learned things she hadn’t heard before. It was a very sweet experience, and the end result was a DVD that preserved her voice, personality, and enthusiasm which can be shared with her descendants for generations. We have learned that the younger generation is eager to have family stories preserved, and can better motivate their parents or grandparents who may be reluctant to make an oral history.

  4. Sister Mcbride, looking for the person that set up the audio center in San Diego, I have been talking to them but they do not know who was instrumental in the initial design. we are setting up on and I would like to know what hardware / software theirs is built around. can you help..?

  5. Tengo muchas cosa de la Historia de mis padres, mis abuels y aun de mis bisabuelos y tatarabuelos, tambien tengo muchas experiencias espirituales para compartir. Agradezco por esta informacion tan importante y me siento muy privilegiada por para mi, distincion, muchas muchas gracias. Tengo una pregunta, este progama funcinara en todas la bibliotecas? en todos los estados?


    I have many thing in the history of my parents, my grandparents and even of my great-grandfathers and great great grandfathers. I also have many spiritual experiences to share. I thank you for this important information and I feel very privileged. Many many thanks. I have a question, is this program in all the libraries in all States?

  6. I just was called to serve as family search consultant in my ward and I will learn so many things abaut family recoeds search and I will work better and I think many of us need to start to listen and start to find our ancestrals records and take names to the temple