Ah, family gatherings. What are your traditions? Eating until you push back from the table groaning? Watching football? Playing football? Going for a work-it-off hike? Crafting? Trying to find things to talk about other than politics or religion? What better time to sneak in a little family history research.
And your most valuable research asset? CHILDREN. Family members might tend to shrug you off, or try to put you off until later, but if a grandchild or a doted-upon niece of nephew serves as your emissary, trust me, it opens doors. AND you can assure the adults they’re probably fulfilling a school project that will be assigned to the little ones sooner or later anyway.
Here are a few questions to prime the pump. Print these off and put them in your bag in case an opportunity presents itself. Also make sure you have your smart phone, an old-school audio recorder or a video recorder along to capture the interview session.
1. What is your full name?
2. When and where were you born?
3. What were your parents/ full names?
4. What is your happiest memory of your father? Your mother?
5. What are the full names of your grandparents on your mother’s side? What are the full names of your grandparents on your mother’s side?
6. What is your happiest memory of your paternal grandfather? Your paternal grandmother? What is your happiest memory of your maternal grandfather? Your maternal grandmother?
7. Where did your grandparents live? Paternal? Maternal?
8. Do you know the names of any of your ancestors who came before your grandparents? Do you know where they lived?
9. Where did you grow up?
10. Tell me about the house you grew up in. Tell me about your neighborhood.
11. What did you do for fun as a child?
12. Did you like school when you were young? What was your favorite subject?
13. What did you want to be when you grew up?
14. Tell me about your first date.
15. How did you meet the person who is the most important person in your life?
16. Tell me about the day my mother/father was born.
17. What is your favorite holiday and how did you celebrate it when you were a child?
18. What jobs have you had?
19. Tell me about the most important historical events you have witnessed in your life.
20. What are the things in your life that have made you happy?