Even historical genealogists have to speak to the living from time to time. When mastered, interview skills can open the door to information, photographs, and clues only the living may know. Many genealogists hope never to have to speak to a living person when conducting research – but imagine what they might be missing!
Students at BU choose a recent genealogical problem to solve. Many of these are adoption cases, for either the adoptee or the parent(s) who gave up their child. While most researchers fully appreciate the ethical concerns that haunt three sides of the adoption triangle, they almost always fail to consider a fourth side to what’s really a rectangle: the researcher! Consider what it will be like to be the person who tells what to whom when the research is done.
Keep working on your interviewing skills, and be sure to consider interviewing as a part of your genealogical research. Often times, someone in the present can be the missing link to information from the past.
Melinde Lutz Byrne