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Old 10-20-2007, 09:37 PM
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JanW. JanW. is offline
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Default October Lesson - The Next Step - Interviewing older relatives

Recording the family history, the next step:

Once you have filled out your family group sheets to the best of your ability, and have done one for each person in the family that you can, it is time to move on to another method of recording family history.

Armed with a notebook & pen, or a tape recorder or camcorder, go and visit with some of the older people in the family. This step should not be put off until it might be too late. Oral histories can fill in so many things in the family history that plain old documents can not.

You might take your family group sheets with you for the ease of having dates and places on hand. I have also found that sometimes taking the family album or photos that we have not been able to identify might spark an interest.

Below are just some of the questions that you might include in your interview with great Uncle Joe The number and nature of questions are endless.

What is your full name?
Were you named after any of the ancestors?
When and where were you born?
When and where were your parents born?
Did you have siblings?
What are some of your memories of your parents and siblings?
Do you remember the names of your grandparents/great grandparents on both sides of the family? Where did they come from? What was their occupation?

Ask about older relatives that he can remember in his lifetime. Were they in the military? Did you have to travel to visit?

Be sure to ask about traditions or family customs that have followed the generations. Last but not least, ask about life while this person was growing up. What were the greatest changes from his childhood until now. Are there any particular family stories that he would like to share?

(I was lucky enough to have my great grandmother live to be 100. When we were young, we sat through many hours of her stories of how things had changed and how lucky we were. I remember a great deal, but when she was gone, I wished that I had listened just a little harder or had ask just a few more questions.)

Somewhere down the road, I would love to see us use an interview to make a Heritage Album layout. It would be very interesting to see them all.

Please remember to feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts or ideas here.
Thanks for looking!

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Old 10-22-2007, 10:33 PM
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TrishF TrishF is offline
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I can attest to the fact that it is so important to interview older relatives while they are still with us. My mother wishes she had thought to ask more questions of her elders while they were alive so that the family history could be passed down with a lot more personally verifed information than what we have to go on today. The stories that our elders can share of how life was when they were younger are priceless.
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