When you start working on your own family stories, I do strongly recommend getting a digital recorder, which is small, unobtrusive & fairly inexpensive. I use a Sony ICD-P520, which is less than $50 on Amazon.com. Another nice feature is that you can use the USB to load it to your computer and create CDs. Once you have a recording, you can also transcribe it into a Word document.
If you want to capture stories and folklore from the elderly, I urge you to start right away. You never know when they (or perhaps just their minds) may be suddenly taken away. Whenever you get a group of people together, encourage them to talk about their experiences. If possible, record them talking, but if not, then take notes to expand later.
Keep a writing journal to remind yourself of stories you want them to talk about, or events you recall yourself. Use photos & memorabilia to help them reminisce. That often has a starburst effect - one memory leads to three others and each of them to several more. It is a wonderful way to keep expanding their legacy.
Here are some of my favorite websites to help you get started. And of course, my book has some excellent ideas on how to capture your family stories. ;-)
Website Resources for Family Historians:
About.com Genealogy website has a list of 50 questions to help on interviews.
Ancestry.com. This website says, “Feel free to print and distribute” a Script for Video or Audio Interviews with Family Members. www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lineage/famhist.htm
Author’s website, where you can sign up for a free monthly newsletter (via email) with tips on writing family history.
Association of Personal Historians (APH), which offers an anthology of personal stories.
CookbookPeople.com. Software & Blog to create and print a family cookbook at home.
Cute PDF.com. Download free software so you can share a document as a PDF file without anyone else modifying it. You use it like another printer, then provide the name and location for the file to save.
Cyndi’s List.com. More than 200,000 website links to help with genealogy and family history.
Dr. Wicked.com. This simple-to-use website can help when you want to concentrate on a writing exercise. www.lab.drwicked.com/writeordie.html
Grandparents TLC.com. This site offers “Technology to Help Loving Grandparents Connect with Grandchildren!”
Smithsonian Institute. This booklet in PDF format explains how to get started with interviews, sample questions and additional resources.
Story of My Life.com. Free private website to easily gather all your family stories from friends and family and invite participation from around the world.