Questions to ask family members to gather memories for your family history records.
|“This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it’s the family stories that are worth the storage.” - Ellen Goodman
Do you want to record the memories of your family's older generation? You know how important it is, but don't know exactly what to ask them. Look no further. These questions are a place to begin. While many may not have answers and won't apply, they may encourage other memories long forgotten. Let the interview spin off on tangents if that's where it goes. You don't always need specifics, and may find you get memories long forgotten that would never have been unearthed. We hope you enjoy your journey and that you will see those who have gone before you in a new way. Good Luck!
1. What is your full name and why did your parents choose that name for you? Did you have a nickname?
2. When and where were you born?
3. How did your family come to live there?
4. Where there any other family members living in the area? Who?
5. What was the house like? Eg. Number of rooms, modern conveniences such as electricity, indoor plumbing…
6. Where there any special items in the house that you remember?
7. What is your earliest childhood memory?
8. Describe the personalities of your family members.
9. What kind of games did you play growing up?
10. What was your favourite toy and why?
11. What was your favourite thing to do for fun? Eg. beach, movies…
12. Did you have family chores? What were they? What was your least favourite?
13. Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?
14. What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend primary school, high school and/or university?
15. What school activities and sports did you participate in?
16. Do you remember any fads from your youth? Eg. popular hair styles, clothes…
17. Who were your childhood heroes?
18. What were your favourite songs and music?
19. Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names?
20. What was your religion growing up? Did you attend church?
21. Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?
22. Who were your friends when you were growing up?
23. What world events had the most impact on you when you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
24. Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favourite foods? Were there any foods you ate then that you don’t eat now?
25. How were holidays, birthdays, Christmas etc celebrated in your family? Did you have any family traditions?
26. How is the world different today from what it was like when you were a child?
27. Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
28. What do you know about your family surname?
29. Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always naming the firstborn son after his paternal grandfather?
30. What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? Other relatives?
31. Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?
32. Have any recipes been passed down to you by family members?
33. Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
34. Are there any special heirlooms, photos, Bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?
35. What is the full name of your spouse? Your spouse’s siblings? Their parents?
36. When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?
37. What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
38. Where and when did you get married?
39. What memory stands out most from your wedding day?
40. How would you describe your spouse? What did/do you admire most about them?
41. What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
42. How did you find out you were going to be a parent for the first time?
43. Why did you choose your children’s names?
44. What was your proudest moment as a parent?
45. What did your family enjoy doing together?
46. What is/was your profession and how did you choose it?
47. If you could have had any other profession, what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?
48. Of all the things you learned from your parents, what do you feel was the most valuable?
49. What accomplishments were you most proud of?
50. What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?