by Eowyn

What’s one of the most overlooked and underutilized resources available for genealogy research?

Your living family members.  Bug them! They’re one of the best resources you have. Start with your parents or grandparents. Talk to them and then branch out – include your cousins, aunts, uncles. Try to steer away from yes/no questions and ask open-ended ones so you can collect not just names and dates but stories as well. Not only can this help you in researching your ancestors from the past but you’ll be able to compile stories about your family in the present.

Here are 50 questions to get you started.  Just remember, the more you ask, the more you’ll know and you’ll be better able to personalize your interviews.

1.  What’s your full name? Do you know why your parents gave you that name?

2. When and where were you born?

3. What was your first home like? What other places have you lived?

4. Do you attend a church? What church did your parents/grandparents attend?

5. What are the full names of your brothers and sisters?

6. What were your favorite toys?

7. Where did you attend grade school/high school? What were your schools like?

8. What were your favorite/least favorite subjects in school and why?

9. What activities/sports did you participate in?

10. What was your first job?

11. How did you decide on a career?

12. If you served in the military, when and where did you serve? What was your rank? Did you have to go to war?

13.  How old were you when you started dating?  Do you remember your first date?

14. How did you meet your spouse(s)?

15. How long did you know them before you get married? Describe the proposal.

16. Describe your wedding ceremony.  Who was there?  Who were the best man/maid of honor?

17. Did you have a honeymoon? Where did you go?

18. How long have you been/were you married? How would you describe your spouse?

19.  What advice would you give to your child/grandchild that is about to get married?

20. How many children did you have all together? What are their names, dates and birth places?

21. Why did you pick the names that you did?

22. What did you find the most difficult aspect of being a parent?

23. What would you describe as the best reward of being a parent?

24. Where did your spouse’s parents live?

25. When and where did your parents die? What do you remember about it? Where are they buried?

26. What do you remember hearing your grandparents describe about their lives?

27. Do you remember anything about your great-grandparents? If so, what?

28. Did you have any childhood diseases?

29. Has anyone in the family been the victim of a crime or convicted of one? If so, can you share the story?

30. Have you ever had surgery? For what?

31. How is the world different now then from when you were growing up?

32. How would you describe yourself politically? Liberal? Conservative? Why?

33. Have you ever been mentioned in a newspaper?

34. What wars have been fought during your lifetime? How did they affect you?

35. How would you describe your sense of humor?

36. What are some of your favorite hobbies? How did you get involved with them?

37. What organizations or groups have you belonged to?

38. What’s the most memorable moment of your life?

39.What’s something you always wanted to try but haven’t yet?

40.What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited and why?

41. Who are some of your heroes?

42. What did you do with your first paycheck?

43. What’s your favorite holiday and why? What traditions do you have?

44. What would you say have been some of the best inventions/advances you’ve seen in your lifetime?

45. Have you had pets in your life? What were they like? Favorites?

46. Who have been your closest friends through the years?

47. What makes your family unique?

48. What do you fear most in regards to future generations?

49. Do you have a life philosophy to pass on to your descendants?

50. What haven’t we talked about that you’d like to share?

Bonus for fun:

What or who is your favorite:

  • Animal?
  • Author?
  • Book?
  • Candy?
  • Car?
  • Color?
  • Dessert?
  • Flower?
  • Fruit?
  • Game?
  • Holiday?
  • Meal?
  • Movie?
  • Season?
  • Song?
  • Sport?
  • Vegetable?
  • Word?
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  4 Responses to “50 Questions for Interviewing Living Family Members”

  1. [...] 50 Questions for Interviewing Living Family Members [...]

  2. These questions are an excellent starting point! Thanks for posting.

  3. [...] 50 Questions for Interviewing Living Family Members [...]

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