Family History Interviews

Posted: July 24, 2012 in research
Tags: , , , ,

Photo Credit: Kelly Cornett-Vial via (June 2012)

How do you plan on getting clues about your family’s history? What would you like to know? How about interviewing a family member? By asking the right questions, you may just get a lot more information than your originally thought. Getting people to share their stories isn’t the easiest thing to do but in reality, it needs to be done. What would happen if you procrastinated getting your questions together? Your relative may die with those memories and then you would never know. It would be lost forever!

Think about the questions you would ask them if you were ever given the chance. Do you live too far away to do a one on one, personal interview? That isn’t always a bad thing as you can always create a list of questions for your relatives to answer by email, a phone conversation, or even snail mail. With all the social networking that is done by men and women of all ages, there is no reason for you to delay contacting them. Another idea would be to create a “note” in Facebook, list all of your questions and share it! Why not? It’s worth a shot!

If you do have the chance to interview one on one, be prepared to have a notepad and several pens. If you plan on recording the interview, which I would advise, I would have a voice recorder, extra tapes and also extra batteries. Give yourself at least two hours in which to complete the interview.

Below are some questions I will be asking my relatives by the time the day is out. I am currently in the process of creating this interview in a Word document and I will copy and paste the text in an email for those members that do not have the program. There is always the option of a PDF document too! There are so many questions I have to ask, and I think this is the perfect way to get those questions answered.

Questions You Could Ask

Before you get started, write or record the name of the person being interviewed, who interviewed the person (you), the date, time and location of said interview. Try not to ask questions that will give you a simple yes or no. That doesn’t really get you anywhere. Try and think of open ended questions you might ask to give you more details in which you can work with. Good luck!

  •  What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have any nicknames growing up? When and where were you born?
  •  How did you and your family come to live where you are? Is there a reason behind why they chose this town over another city or county?
  •  What are your parent’s names? Do you know when they were born and where?
  • What were your (4)grandparents names, birth dates, wedding dates, death dates, and place of burial?
  • What were your (8) great grandparents names , birth dates, wedding dates, death dates and place of burial?Did any of your grandparents ever mention if they emigrated from another country? If so, where did they come from?
  •  Are any family members war veterans? If so, what war and in what year? Do you have any documents showing their terms of service?
  •  Do you have other family that lives in this area? Who were (are) they?
  •  Did your family have a house or a farm? What was that like?
  •  Can you describe the house or property in which you grew up?
  •  Were there any special items in the house that you remember?
  •  What is your earliest childhood memory? Any siblings? If so, what are their names?
  •  What was your family like? Did they have different personalities? What were their personality traits?
  •  What was your favorite thing to do as a child? Did you have a favorite toy or game? What was it?
  •  What school did you go to as a child? What was it like? Did you excel in a particular subject?
  •  Did you ever participate in school clubs or activities? If so, what were they?
  •  Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper article? If so, what was it about? Which newspaper?
  •  What was your family life like?
  •  What Church did you and your family go to?
  •  Who did you look up to as a child?
  •  What was your favorite color? Is it the same one that is your favorite, today?
  •  Did you ever own any pets or farm animals that you considered a pet? What were their names?
  •  Do you have any old pictures that you would be willing to share? Who are they of?
  •  What types of events took place while you were growing up? Did you grow up in a recession or experience the affects  of war?
  •  What family traditions did your family have? What were holidays such as Christmas, like for you as a child?
  • What family heirlooms do you own?


These types of questions should get you started and you can alter or delete the ones you don’t think you would need to ask. You can also add more than the above questions I listed to better suit your needs. I hope this article helps you in some way. Now I have to get started writing my own!





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