Questions to ask our elders

Started by Private User on Tuesday, December 29, 2009


  • Private User
    Geni member
Private User
12/29/2009 at 2:55 PM

As I get older, I look back and wish I would have taken the time to interview my relatives. So many of my great-aunts and uncles and grandparents are deceased now and it makes me sad that we'll never hear their stories of their lives from their own lips.

Now, many of our relatives are growing older and I would like to ask any of you who has access to their relatives to sit down and interview them. Ask questions about their lives. Everyone has a story ready to be told!

1.What is your full name? Why did your parents select this 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.Were there other family members in the area? Who?
5.What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?
6.Were 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 favorite toy and why?
11.What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
12.Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?
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 grade school? High school? College?
15.What school activities and sports did you participate in?
16.Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
17.Who were your childhood heroes?
18.What were your favorite 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? What church, if any, did you attend?
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 while 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 favorite foods?
25.How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
26.How is the world today different 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 giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
30.What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?
31.Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?
32.Have any recipes been passed down to you from 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 was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? 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 the most from your wedding day?
40.How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
41.What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
42.How did you find out your 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 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, which do you feel was the most valuable?
49.What accomplishments were you the most proud of?
50.What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?

What was your wedding day like?
How did your mother prepare you for the wedding night?
What were some of your mother's positive qualities?
What about negative qualities?
How did your mother meet your father?
What is your fondest memory of your mother or your grandmother?
As you think of your mother or grandmother, how do you remember her looking?
How old was she then?
What did you call her?
What did others call her?
Tell me a story about your mother or grandmother that would characterize her or show me what kind of a woman she was.
What did you do during summer vacations when you were small?
Who did you visit?
Where did they live?
How old were you when your grandparents died?
Do you remember any of their sisters or brothers?
Did they ever talk about their parents, where they came from, where they're buried?
What kind of work did your parents do?
Did they speak a foreign language?
Did they have favorite or pet names for anyone which might indicate where they came from?
What church did they belong to?
Did anyone serve in the military? Civil War?
What is your full name and why were you named it?
Were you named after somebody else?
Did you have a nickname as you were growing up?
If you did, what was it and why did they call you that?
Have you had other nicknames as an adult?
Where were you born and when?
Do you remember hearing your grandparents describe their lives? What did they say?
Do you remember your great-grandparents? What do you know about them?
Who was the oldest person you can remember in your family as a child? What do you remember about them?
Do you remember your family discussing world events and politics?
Were there any family secrets? (Children born out-of-wedlock or adopted)
What were your schools like?
How did you get to school?
How many years of education have you completed?
Do you have a college degree? If so, what was your field of study?
Name a good friend that you have known for the longest period of time? How many years have you been friends?
How did you meet the person that you would later marry? Describe them?
Do you remember where you went on the first date with your spouse?
How long did you know them before you got married?
When and where did you get married?
Describe your wedding ceremony. Who was there?
Did you have a honeymoon? If so, where did you go?
How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
How long have you been married (or were you married)?
How many children did you have all together?
What were their names, birth dates and birthplaces?
What was your first job?
What kinds of jobs have you had?
Who was the person that had the most positive influence on your life? Who were they and what did they do?
Is there a person that really changed the course of your life by something that they did?
Who were they and what did they do?
What wars have been fought during your lifetime? How did you feel about them?
If you served in the military, when and where did you serve and what were your duties?
If you served in the military, were you ever injured in the line of duty?
What were the circumstances and what were your injuries?
How tall are you?
What color was your hair as a young child and then as an adult?
What color are your eyes?
Where have you lived as an adult? List the places and the years that you lived there.
Why are you living where you are today?
Do you wish you lived somewhere else (If so, where would it be)?
Do you have any health problems that are considered hereditary in nature? If so, what are they?
Have you ever met any famous people? Describe what happened.
What organizations and groups have you belonged to?
Have you ever won any special awards or prizes? What were they for?

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