Family History Questions

Following up on my last post about family history, here is how I started.

In 1998, I read an article in a magazine about asking your elder family members questions about their lives and about the times in general when they were growing up.  Liking the idea, I wrote to my dad and each of his siblings. I wrote to Mom as well, but her letter had to be different – that’s for another post.20150408_091823_resized

As my relatives were all in their 80s at the time, I thought I would have better luck if I wrote out my requests in longhand, which I did, separately to each one. I received long, fascinating responses from 6 out of the 8 people I wrote to.

The responses I received were much more than I had asked for with family stories I had not heard and insight into the people I had only ever known as adults four decades older than I. Share your answers with your kids and extended family.

Here are the questions I asked – adapt for your family situation as needed:

1. How did your parents describe what life was like for them growing up?
2. How did they meet? What was their wedding like?
3. What did your parents enjoy doing?
4. Do you remember any specific news events and your reactions to them?
5. What memories of your childhood come to you first?
6. What did your family usually have for dinner and what sort of conversation was around your family table?
7. How were Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween etc celebrated? What traditions did you all observe together?
8. Which family story is your favorite?
9. As an adult, what hobbies and activities do you enjoy? What have you always wanted to do that you have not yet tried?
10. What do you consider to be the most significant change, event or invention of the last century?
11. What one thing would you like to say to future generations?

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