Family Interview Questions To Ask Your Relatives

In Family interview questions I will be giving you questions to ask family members that are tuned into genealogy research. I read an article by Juliana Smith in the ancestry.com newsletter and I disagree with some of her questions. I know she has many years of genealogy research experience and I enjoyed her presentation at Ancestry Day in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in July 2011.

Here are some family interview questions to ask at any of your interviews:

Where were you born and did you grow up in the same area?

What was the area like, country, suburb, or town or city?

What was the area like, country, suburb, or town or city?

How many siblings did you have?

Can you give me their full names?

Are they still living and where?

Did they marry and what are their spouses' names?

Do you know the names of their children and spouses?

Can you tell me about their personalities, (bookish, sports, volunteers)?

Did any other relatives live in the area? Were they from both sides of the family?

Did you live on a farm? Where was the farm located? What type of farm, did you raise crops or livestock.
What chores were you given? Did you and your siblings have any pets?
The area you lived in was it all farmland if so how far was the nearest town and how large a population?

Did you live in a big city? What can you tell me about this city?
Where did you go to school? Did you have a part time job working after school on weekends?
Did you have a favorite subject in school?
Were you or your siblings able to attend college or university?

Did your school have extra activities and did you participate in any of them?

Do you know if our ancestors had the same beliefs and did they always belong to the same religious affiliations as we do now?

Are you still attending the same church as you did as a young person?
Did the church have a choir and did you sing in the choir?
Did the church have socials and picnics? Did you participate in any programs?
What did you do in your free time? Did you go to the movies, a park, beach, museums, zoo?
Did your family go on trips or vacations? Were there family reunions?
Do you keep in touch with any of your old friends and neighbors?

Did you have a family member that came from the old country and still spoke the language?
Did you learn any of the language or any other foreign language?

Did you have family traditions that you still practice today?
Do you remember any stories that you were told? Were these stories fokelore or real life?
Do you remember any event that ocurred, such as historical, personal, fire, storm or train wreck?

As I was typing this and got to the last sentence, I suddenly remembered a train wreck that happened a block from our house. Believe me that was close and those train cars looked so big and were.

Here are a couple questions that I do not agree with:

What level of education do you have?

This is not a question to ask someone who is old enough that he/she lived through the depression or World War I. This person may not have advanced beyond grade school for some reason.

How long did you date before getting married? What qualities drew you to him/her? Did you exchange special gifts?

These last 3 questions could easily appear as being none of your business questions. Should you be preparing a special anniversary book, then ask for someone opinion before asking these questions.

Please check out your family interview questions with other family members before asking the person you would like to interview? I have learned many people like to keep their lives private.

There are many other good questions to ask, this is just a sample.

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