Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Some of the best sources if you are able to, is your own family members. If you have been saying I should sit and talk to abuelita, because you are feeling the urgency. Listen to that feeling and sit with her and let the stories flow.
What about if I don't have anybody I can ask? I get this question often and in that case I would advice to consider DNA testing specially in platforms such as Ancestry where some of your DNA Matches may have Genealogy Trees available and can help start giving you information to start your own Genealogy Tree. Many Latinos from the Carribbean, Central America and South America use this platform. These are more in cases where a person really has no information and/or access to the family members that can help with information.
But what if my family does not want to talk about the past? So your Latino family suffers from "We don't talk about Bruno no no" syndrome, I hear you, and you are not alone. One of the first things I would say, do not force it and while it may be frustrating we have to empathize and be mindful that sometimes to retell stories about the family also brings many emotions and reminder of old pains that they were hoping to leave in the past. So when you speak to your relatives and see that resistance don't force it. What I have done is I will start my research and let them know that I have discovered some things and if they are ever ready I would love to share. My personal experience has been that some of them do eventually ask and once the information is shared, there is a shift and all of a sudden what appeared so hard for them to talk about comes flowing out of them, and if this does happen, take it, and listen.
What should I ask? Here are some examples:
When and where were you born?
What do you remember about your parents?
What you you remember about your grandparents?
What was your childhood like?
How did you meet your spouse?
What is your happiest memory? (I feel like this one always seems to be one that brings a secret smile and many stories can come with it).
I think it is important to keep the questions light so they start to feel comfortable and it could result in more stories and in turn you are able to ask more questions. Remember most of our elders lived through many traumatic experiences and thought that by not talking about it they were protecting us. So treat with care, be patient. If you are able to record them speaking of course it would be amazing for your family records but ask before you do it.
Look for the next blog on Family Collections!...