One of the most overlooked genealogy research methods is interviewing your extended family. Whether your goal is to simply create your own private tree, or to find a way to connect to the Big Tree, you shouldn’t ignore the intimate resources available to you.
Many make the mistake of waiting too long to connect with distant relatives; they can’t share their knowledge with you after they pass away! Plan short trips to meet with extended family, or figure out ways to arrange short visits when you’ll be near (“after the Cubs game, we stopped in Aurora to visit with Aunt Peggy and talked about her parents and aunts and uncles”).
Kimberly at About.com has created a great family interview guide. Some of the best tips include:
Prepare a list of questions beforehand and either share them with your relative, or give them an idea of what you want to cover.
It’s always a great idea to be organized about your interview so that you’re not spending too much time to find the information you need. Save some time for socializing at the end of your visit!
Use props whenever possible. Old photographs, favorite old songs and treasured items may bring memories flooding back.
In addition, you may want to take a good camera or scanner so you can document any photographs or items that your relatives share with you.
Consider preparing a transcript or written report as a tangible thank you to your relative for her participation.
And if she is web savvy, you can always store this information in her Geni profile for her and the rest of the family to enjoy. Providing as much information as possible for the profiles that you manage will benefit the entire community as we continue to merge branches into the Big Tree.