When it comes to the burgeoning field of personal history interviews, Jennifer’s experience goes back much further than her career in journalism – to the late 1980s, when oral histories were still done on analog audio-tape and digital video was merely a dream.
That’s when Jennifer, as a young university student, was hired by the City of Saskatoon’s Meewasin Valley Authority to launch an oral history program and conduct her very first oral history interviews with city seniors.
That experience created important friendships and memories she will never forget. That’s also when Jennifer decided to capture her own grandmother’s stories on tape.
The two of them sat down on the edge of a bed in the only room they could get some quiet. The recording quality was lousy. The tape recorder was old and the microphone picked up not only their conversation, but all the sounds of a busy household in the background. Kids calling out. Doors opening and closing. Feet dashing down the hall.
Still, that recording has turned out to be a true family treasure. It’s what Jennifer goes back to whenever she wants to hear her grandmother talk to her again. Or to hear her laugh.
That recording was also enough to convince Jennifer that interviews with beloved family members do much more than allow stories to be passed down to future generations.
They bring a loved one’s presence back in a uniquely moving way.
Especially video interviews, which offer the best treasure of all: the pleasure of seeing someone again.