Family Stories

Family Stories

One of my favorite things to do at the Cumberland County Historical Society is interview people about their lives. The past few weeks I’ve been able to interview Fred Wardecker, Gayle and Denver Tuckey, and Dennis Akin. All have contributed to the history of the County in their own way from running businesses, creating art, and raising children. Hearing their stories of their own lives and those of their families helps to build a unique connection between myself and the place that I now call home.

I’ve also recently been able to digitize some old cassette tapes of family interviews from patrons and of individuals I’ve interviewed. Being able to help preserve these stories is another joy allowing me to use technology to help preserve some part of the County’s memory from fading.

This Thanksgiving Holiday I plan on doing some in-depth interviews with my family as a means of preserving my own family’s history. This way I won’t have to rely on my own faulty memory when I try to tell these stories many years from now.

So if you find yourself listening to some great stories or perhaps just wanting to learn more take out a phone or camera and turn on the recorder. Maybe in twenty years you’ll find yourself listening to that recording and reliving some family memories.


Here are some questions we ask for Gardner Library Interviews:

Questions for Cumberland County Residents
1) When did your family first come to Cumberland County? Do you remember or know why your family decided to come to C.C.?
2) What did your family do for a living?
3) Describe your family growing up? Presently.
4) Describe a typical day for you growing up in Cumberland County.
5) What did you do to make a living? What was a typical day like?
6) How has C.C. or [specific township/borough] changed since your first memories of the county?

Questions for Occupation based interviews
1) What is/was your main job/occupation?
2) How did you come into that position or line of work?
3) Describe the work you do/did?
a. Potential follow up with impact on C.C.
b. Can you describe specific stories or examples that have stuck with you about the impact of your job on the community?
4) Has or did the job change over time?
5) What was the first day like? What is a typical day like now?
6) Do you and your co-workers have job-related stories, jokes, traditions, or nicknames?
7) What special knowledge or skills are required for your job(s)?
8) What advice would you give someone starting in your field/job?

Questions for Veterans
1) Were you drafted or did you enlist? If enlisted why did you join?
2) What were your first few days like?
3) Where did you serve? Do you remember arriving at your first post?
4) Did you see combat?
5) Tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences.
6) Were you awarded any medals or citations? How did you get them?
7) How did you stay in touch with your family?
8) How did you entertain yourself while on duty? While on leave?
9) Do you recall when your service ended? What was the experience like knowing the war was ended?

End of Interview
1) Depending on the time ask the interviewee if there is anything else they would like to cover, clarify, or that you have forgotten to ask.
2) If nothing else end the interview by thanking the interviewee for their time and their story.

Blair Williams, Media Specialist

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