You know you should do it. You tell yourself, “I’ll get to it next week,” or “I’ll do that later.” But what ends up happening is that you keep skipping over one of the single best resources you have at your disposal to build your family tree. And to top it off, it’s free except for the time it takes.
What is it?
Interviewing your relatives. What do *they* know about about the family’s history? Any good stories? Rumors? Maybe even…long-held secrets? With the holidays coming up you have a great opportunity to ask your family those all-important questions that just might yield some more clues to follow up on.
So what should you ask?
Well, there are a ton of questions you can ask, but here are 10 questions to ask your relatives that should help you get started. All you need to do is brainstorm before the holidays and write them down (or put them in your smartphone or tablet) and take them with you.
- What was your favorite toy you liked to play with growing up?
- Who was your childhood best friend? What things did you like to do together?
- Who was your favorite relative and why? (Favorite aunt? Uncle?)
- Did you ever get your name in the newspaper? What for?
- What was your favorite song?
- What high school did you attend? What was your favorite subject? Teacher? Extra-curricular activities? Awards?
- What world events occurred while you were growing up that affected you?
- (Depending on the time period…) What favorite television or radio shows did you enjoy watching or listening to?
- Were you involved in any clubs or societies?
- What was the price of gasoline? And how many cars did your family have?
Remember, while you are the one asking the questions, you should be flexible and let them talk and remember. Let them lead the conversation with “soft” prompts from you. You just never know what they’ll remember and share with you that just might help you with your research! Also, don’t forget to record the answers by writing them down or audio or video recording them. And don’t forget to take their picture and also take one with the both of you. Let’s see those “selfies” over the holidays!
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