Maegan Kasteler | Oct 8, 2018

Interviewing Your Relatives, a Question Starter Pack

Have you sat down with any of your progenitors and recorded their stories? Audio recordings create added depth to your family history and can become valuable heirlooms. Imagine being able to hear the voice of a grandparent you never had the chance to meet, and in their own words, hear them telling their own story.

These recordings can help make your genealogy more personal and add color to stories in a way that can't be replicated.

So how do you make the most of your time interviewing these relatives, especially if they are starting to show the signs of aging?

A big part of optimizing your time is being prepared. Ensuring that you have the proper equipment and batteries as well as a good location and time are all important. But one of the most important ways you can prepare yourself is to write a list of questions.

This list of questions should be thought provoking and open ended. Be cautious, however, that you don't get too attached to your questions. Let the conversation ebb and flow as naturally as possible.

To give you a jumpstart compiling your own list of questions, here is our curated list of suggested questions:

  • What do you know about the day you were born?
  • What was it like living where you grew up?
  • What weekly rituals or traditions did your family have?
  • What chores, if any, did you have around the home growing up?
  • What was your schooling like?
  • What would you and your friends do to have fun?
  • What was dating like when you were young?
  • What was it like living (where your relative lived) during (historic events, such as war, 9/11/2001, a specific political event, a natural disaster, and so on)?
  • How did your family resolve familial conflicts?
  • Were you ever involved in any accidents? What happened?
  • Where was your first job, and what did you do?
  • What were your hobbies? Is there anything you picked up when you were young that you still enjoy today?
  • Did your family have any pets? What kind? How many? What were their names?
  • How and when did you meet your significant other?
  • What was your wedding day like?
  • Do you remember any weird or crazy or wonderful gifts you received at your wedding?
  • When did you know you wanted to have kids?
  • How did you find out from or tell your significant other that you were going to be parents?
  • What was early married life like? What struggles did you face?
  • Have you been on any memorable vacations? Where did you go? What made them so memorable?

For obvious reasons, not all of these questions will apply in every situation but should serve as a launch pad to creating your own lists.

Do you have any that you would want to add? Tweet us @RootsTechConf

Maegan Kasteler

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