Fifty Questions for Genealogy Interviews

What to Ask Your RelativesPapers Old Man Studying Papers

A great way to uncover clues to your family history or to get great quotes for journaling in a heritage scrapbook is a family interview. By asking the right, open-ended questions, you’re sure to collect a wealth of family tales. Use this list of family history interview questions to help you get started, but be sure to personalize the interview with your own questions as well.

  • What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname?
  • When and where were you born?
  • How did your family come to live there?
  • Were there other family members in the area? Who?
  • What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?
  • Were there any special items in the house that you remember?
  • What is your earliest childhood memory?
  • Describe the personalities of your family members.
  • What kind of games did you play growing up?
  • What was your favorite toy and why?
  • What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
  • Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?
  • Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?
  • What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects?
  • Where did you attend grade school? High school? College?
  • What school activities and sports did you participate in?
  • Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
  • Who were your childhood heroes?
  • What were your favorite songs and music?
  • Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names?
  • What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?
  • Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?
  • Who were your friends when you were growing up?
  • What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
  • Describe a typical family dinner.
  • Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
  • How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
  • How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?
  • Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
  • What do you know about your family surname?
  • Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
  • What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?
  • Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?
  • Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?
  • Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
  • Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
  • What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents?
  • When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?
  • What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
  • Where and when did you get married?
  • What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?
  • How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
  • What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
  • How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time?
  • Why did you choose your children’s names?
  • What was your proudest moment as a parent?
  • What did your family enjoy doing together?
  • What was your profession and how did you choose it?
  • If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?
  • Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
  • What accomplishments were you the most proud of?
  • What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?

Note: Two bonus questions were inserted if you need to toss a couple of questions out..

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2011-04-11 15:28:00
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Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.