By Sue Baldani
October is Family History Month and it’s a great time to learn about our own family backgrounds. Surprisingly, many of us don’t know many details except maybe what country our ancestors are from and how our parents met. But there is so much more!
Luckily, there are many websites that can help you ask the right questions, such as https://familyhistorydaily.com/free-genealogy-resources/family-history-interview-questions. There are over 100 great sample questions on this site alone, and you can also add your own to the mix.
It would probably be most interesting to start with the oldest person in the family, for example, your grandmother or grandfather (if you are fortunate enough to still have a grandparent in your life). And then move on to parents, aunts and uncles, and whomever else you care to interview. Record the interview so you can transcribe it later, or do it the old fashioned way with pen and paper. Then, share it with the rest of the family.
Here are some questions to get you started:
How did you and (dad, grandpa, uncle) meet? When was that?
Who do I most resemble in the family (looks and personality wise)?
What are some special holiday traditions or recipes that were passed on to you?
Are there any special family heirlooms that were handed down to you?
Did you have any animals or pets growing up? Which was your favorite?
What kind of clothing did you wear? Was it homemade or store-bought?
What did you want to do or be when you grew up?
What was/is your favorite hobby?
What were your favorite toys or games?
What major world events have happened in your lifetime? How did they impact your life?
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your life?
What do you want people to remember the most about you?
Of course, there are also plenty of free and paid online genealogy sites like Ancestry.com, but wouldn’t it be more fun to sit down with relatives and let them tell you all about their lives? Plus, while you’re getting all kinds of interesting information about your family history, you’ll also be giving them the gift of your time, the pleasure of your company, and a chance to reminisce. And that is probably the best payback they could ever want.
Written for The Country Register newspapers published all across the U.S.