Interviewing Your Relatives

Posted July 16, 2013 by Hiromimarie | 2 Comments

Are you starting your family tree on Geni, but you don’t know a lot about your family history? Whether your goal is to simply create a small tree, or find a way to connect to the World Family Tree, one of the best things to do is to interview your relatives. Your relatives can share their knowledge of your family history with you and help you build your family tree. Plan some time to meet with your family.

Here are some tips from a great family interview guide created by Kimberly at

Prepare a list of questions beforehand and either share them with your relative, or give them an idea of what you want to cover.

   Bring several notepads and pens to the interview. If you plan to make a recording, be sure to have a tape
   player, microphone, extra tapes and batteries.

Start with a question or topic about a story you may have heard your relative tell in the past. 

   Use your prepared questions as a guideline, but don’t be afraid to let your relative go off on a tangent.
   They may have many things to say that you never thought to ask!

Keep the interview length to no more than 1-2 hours at a stretch. It’s tiring for you and for the person being interviewed. Remember this is suppose to be fun!

You can then add the information in your relatives Geni profile for 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 branches continue to be merged into the World Family Tree. And don’t forget to take pictures with your relative to add them to your Photo album on Geni!

Post written by Hiromimarie

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  • David

    About 20 years ago I came across a book about family history. I think it was titled: Your Family Video History.

    A very valuable section of the book was a long and thorough list of questions to use in interviewing an elder in one’s family. The idea was to give the list to an elder and let them check-mark the questions to which they were willig to respond. Then an interviewer (family member) would use the check-marked list to interview the elder while the elder was recorded on an audio and/or video device.

    I cannot find the book anywhere these days, but I do have a list of the questions it contained.

    Perhaps I could copy the list to you or to those who are interested.

    • geniblog

      Hi David,

      That’s very thoughtful! If you would like to send us the list, we’ll be happy to post it for others to see. You can email us at . Thanks!