This page is for people who have attended our workshops and are looking for the follow-up materials (And anyone else with an interest)

Folk traditions, or folklore, are the knowledge and skills passed down over the generations within your family.

They include (but are not restricted to):

      Stories – past and present family members, holidays, picnics, events …
      Speech – names, sayings, proverbs, riddles …
      Beliefs – luck, weather, medicine, first-of-month, planting/harvesting …
      Food – recipes, cooking, drinks …
      Skills and crafts – needlework, gardening, DIY …
      Arts – music, song, dance, recitation …
      Customs – birthdays, anniversaries, commemorations, births, deaths, marriages; celebrations…
      Children – lullabies, dandling, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, games …

You can collect and document these traditions as part of your family history, adding a new dimension to the more official record.

This information may also be valuable for medical and genetic information not available in official records.


Trove, National Library Australia (free) and British Newspaper Archives sometimes reveal unknown formal and informal pastimes of relations.

Also religious groups have their own newspapers and newsletters that may have accounts of relations.

Numerous family history sites give you formal information regarding time and place. Some give a free service for a limited time. Cyndi’s List of Genealogy gives you numerous sites on the internet.

‘How to Collect Your Own Family Folklore’ at:

Graham Seal, The Hidden Culture: Folklore in Australian Society (general).




Olya & Rob Willis    2016

The following are suggestions that have worked for us and are given only as guidelines. Each interview is an individual experience.


·      Have a thorough knowledge of your recording equipment. Play with it before you conduct your first interview.
Be like a kid with a new toy.

·      There is nothing more disconcerting to an interviewee than waiting around while you are trying to get the recording equipment to work. Show confidence in what you are doing.

·      Before the interview, check that you have everything in your recording kit, especially spare batteries and SD cards.

If the recording equipment is to be shared with a group of people, for example Family History Group, Historical Society, establish a list itemising the contents of your recording kit.


We prefer to ask people if we can have a chat/yarn with them rather than use the word ‘interview’. This is followed by a request to record the conversation.

·      When making contact by phone introduce yourself, explaining the reason for the contact.

·      Be friendly and establish a rapport.

·      Make a common connection you may have, such as a common acquaintance, an interest you share.

·      Arrange a time and place for the chat and the recording.


·      Plan the direction of the interview. Ask yourself: What is the purpose of the interview? What specific information you want?

·      Establish an ‘interview ladder’ ie a list of questions covering the areas of interest - a ‘shopping list’.

Tell us about your parents – when and where they were born, their names - note mother’s maiden name, family background

Childhood, family life, special memories, family rituals,

Living conditions – description of the home, home remedies, meals prepared

Education – name/s of schools attended, teachers, games, activities, anecodotes
Community life – social, sporting

Working life – job/s, career, working conditions, pay

Adult family life – social and leisure activities


·      On arrival take time for some relaxed conversation to put everyone at ease.

·      Locate a suitable and comfortable place for recording. Kitchen/dining room table works well. Be aware of the placement of microphones.

·      Be confident in setting up and placement of the recording equipment.

·      Video recording of the interview can also be done.

If this is a formal interview, mention that an access form will be completed at the end of the recording.


It is suggested that each recording segment of the session be about 1 hour duration. This gives the interviewer/interviewee an opportunity to take a break.

Of course this is flexible according to the flow of the conversation. It also enables each session to be easily archived onto a CD.

Be aware that some people could feel apprehensive to start with. Begin with simple questions first. This makes the person feel at ease.

Be a good listener. LISTEN is SILENT.

·      Always put an introduction on the recording mentioning interviewer/s, interviewee/s names, date and place.

eg “Rob and Olya Willis.
We are at…….and the date is…….
We are talking with……………..(full name).
Could you tell us your date of birth please.”

·      Try to have only one interviewee at a time and not more than two. If there are two people to be interviewed, talk with each separately and then bring them together.

·      Be aware of ambient noise such as refrigerators, fish bowl aerators, traffic noise, air conditioners. It may not sound much but if a researcher has to listen to it (amplified) it can be very annoying. Listen through your headphones. Be mindful of and consider distractions both inside and outside.

·      The best interviews are those where the interviewer says very little, just guides the course of the interview. Even though you disagree or know that something is not right don’t make comment or add to the interviewees memories. They are the ones we are seeking information from – not you.

·      Make notes during the course of the talk about topics that may be of further interest. Try not to interrupt the flow or the direction of the interview by changing the subject. Do it later.

If the interviewee does go off on a tangent and it is interesting let them go and then gently bring them back onto the topic at a suitable time.

·      Verify verbally when people make gestures or point out something, as the recorder can’t see. For example: “The fish was this big” Interviewer: “About 30 cm.”

·      Use and be aware of body language. Many an interview is spoilt by the interviewer going “yes” or “hmmm” throughout an interview. Use non-verbal communication – nods, smiles and/or hand actions.

·      Use silence and don’t rush in with the next question or comment.

·      Use open ended questions, rather than closed questions that are answered “yes” or “no”.

eg “Tell us about your memories of Wirrinya school” is preferable to “You went to Wirrinya school, didn’t you.”

·      Good words to use to begin your questions are
who, what, when, where, why, how

·      Try not to interrupt an answer with another question. Wait.

·      After the interview there should be time to say thank you, chat and at times hear the best stories or most important information. That’s why it’s a good idea not to put the recorder away immediately.

Remember you are going to miss details as it is difficult to cover everything the first time. Don’t be afraid to return to the interviewee and talk again at a later date. More memories will be stirred and you can follow up on these.


·      Take photographs and ask about any supporting documentation that the interviewee may be able to give.

·      It is suggested that you let the interviewee as well as family members and relatives know what you intend to do with information provided, as this could prevent any disputes or difficulties that may arise in the future.

·      Make sure all access form are completed and signed. An access form is a permission form, explaining what will be done with the interview and has room on it for the interviewee to state any restrictions on the interview's use.


·      Be yourself

·      Keep it simple

·      Enjoy yourself and the people you are talking with, will enjoy themselves.

How to Transfer Audio Tape to CD Using Audacity
Do you want save your Audiotape collection and convert it to more popular MP3 or wav format.
Description: Image titled Transfer Audio Tape to CD Using Audacity Step 1
1 Insert your Cassette in the Cassette player
Description: Image titled Transfer Audio Tape to CD Using Audacity Step 2
2 Plug one end of the audio cable into the headphone jack of the cassette player
Description: Image titled Transfer Audio Tape to CD Using Audacity Step 3
Plug the other end of the audio cable into the Computers microphone jack
Description: Image titled Transfer Audio Tape to CD Using Audacity Step 4
4  Open Audacity on the computer.
Description: Image titled Transfer Audio Tape to CD Using Audacity Step 5
5 Find and click the red record button to start recording and start playing your cassette tape from the cassette player.

Description: Image titled Transfer Audio Tape to CD Using Audacity Step 6
When you are done, stop the cassette player player first and then stop recording in the Audacity
Description: Image titled Transfer Audio Tape to CD Using Audacity Step 7
Go to file and export mp3 file which you can move to mp3 player or save the file from Audacity as wav you can copy it CD

Things You'll Need

Cassette Player - PC with Windows OS - 3.5mm audio cable with pins on both sides - An Audio Editor - You can get Audacity for free.
Please contact Rob Willis  for further details.

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