30 Questions to Ask to Draw Out Family Stories
When you interview your relatives about your family history, the goal is often to gather names, dates, and locations. Sometimes you may lose sight of the stories behind those names, dates, and locations. Some of the greatest insights into your family come from the family stories that relatives remember.
It is easy to forget what questions to ask during a family interview, so it is always best to be prepared with a list of questions. Keep your questions open ended and don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions too. Often some of the simplest questions will trigger an old memory to share. Don’t forget to record the interview so you can refer back to it later and to preserve the stories for future generations.
We have shared questions you may not think to ask before. Here are 30 more questions you should ask to draw out some family stories:
1. Who was your best friend growing up?
2. How did you decide on your profession?
3. What was your favorite childhood toy?
4. Did you ever meet any of your great grandparents?
5. Who was the oldest relative you remember meeting as a child?
6. What was your favorite family vacation as a child? What made it so memorable?
7. Did you have a nickname growing up? What was the origin of your nickname?
8. Which relatives did you live close to? Did you see each other often?
9. Did you ever go on long trips to visit a relative? Who and where?
10. What is your favorite school memory?
11. What stories do you remember from your grandparents?
12. How did your parents choose your name?
13. What is your favorite traditional family dish?
14. Have you inherited any heirlooms from deceased family members? What are their stories?
15. What heirloom do you want to pass down and why?
16. Which relative do you think you most resemble?
17. What were you most passionate about growing up?
18. Did you live through a war? What was it like?
19. Have you ever won an award?
20. What clubs, fraternities/sororities or sport teams did you join?
21. What was your favorite lullaby or bedtime story?
22. Do you remember attending any funerals for relatives growing up?
23. What’s the greatest obstacle you have overcome?
24. What is the scariest thing you have ever experienced?
25. What is your funniest childhood memory?
26. Did you have any childhood pets?
27. What instruments have you learned to play?
28. What were your siblings like growing up? Were you close?
29. What personality traits do you share with other relatives?
30. What is the one thing you want people to remember about you?
What questions would you add? Share them in the comments below!