Family History/Genealogy what's the difference?

What Should You Ask?

Armed with what you do know, then start asking questions. Genealogists can put reporters to shame. After all, we want to know everything.

  • Talk to your parents and your grandparents. Write to them or call them.
  • Write to and call your cousins, aunts, and uncles.
  • Interview those people who lived near your family, and don't forget old family friends.


Learn to ask the right questions. If you ask Uncle Fred to "tell me everything you know", he may side-step you by responding that he can't remember anything. Ask specific questions that jog the memory. Whenever possible, show old photographs of people and places.

Questions

Names. Dates. Places.  While it is important to ask the basic questions about the whens and wheres of births, marriages, and deaths, you can sometimes get more information from relatives by asking about other aspects of their life.

Here are some questions that will help you get more than just names, dates, and places:

  • Who were you named for?
  • Did your grandmother tell you any special stories?
  • Who was your best friend and what did you like to do together?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What was your favorite holiday? Why?
  • Were you in the military?
  • Have you done any traveling? Where did you go? Who with?
  • What was your first home or apartment like?
  • What do you remember about the houses you lived in?
  • What was your relationship like with your mother/father/sister/brother?
  • How did the family earn money? Who worked?
  • What were the most outstanding family characteristics?
  • Any diseases that run in the family?
  • Was there a black sheep in the family?
  • Can you fill in the blanks on this chart? 

More oral history questions to ask.

  1. Be sure to write down the answers. If your relative doesn't object, audio or video taping would be even better. However, this sometimes makes a person self-conscious and they may not be as forthcoming, but usually they will forget all about it within a few minutes.
  2. Prepare for an interview by making notes in advance about the questions you want to ask and by being somewhat familiar with the family you will be asking questions about.
  3. Inquire regarding:
    • Home and community life. "What do you remember about the houses you lived in?"
    • Personalities and relationships. What was your relationship like with your mother/father/sister/brother?
    • Economic conditions. How did the family earn money? Who worked?
    • Family characteristics. What were the most outstanding family characteristics. Any diseases that run in the family? Was there a black sheep in the family?
    • Family Facts. Try to fill in the blanks on your Pedigree Charts and Family Group Records.

 

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