Uncovering the Family Tree: Tips for Genealogy Interviews

Reading in the Park Every family has a rich history, full of fascinating stories and wonderful memories. While many anecdotes are lost along the way, you can preserve these tales for the future with just a little effort. It all starts with a great conversation. In this blog, we go through our best tips for genealogy interviews. Read through our recommendations, print out a Workbook, and then invite your family over for the Talk of a Lifetime!

Tools of the Trade

Before you start your interview, it’s important to be prepared. While you should keep your focus on the conversation at hand, taking a few notes will help you keep names and dates straight. Many of the Talk of a Lifetime materials include space for notes, but tech-savvy individuals may record audio or video of the interview to remember every last detail. Consider typing up your notes after the interview is over, so you have a written record of what was said.

Getting Started

Treat your genealogy interview like a normal conversation with your family member. Start with the oldest generation of your family, like your grandparents. Let them know that you’re interested in recording the family history and ask them if they’d like to contribute. Most relatives will be overjoyed to bring out the photo album and recall their favorite memories!

Asking Questions

It’s a great idea to make a list of genealogy-related questions, but let the conversation flow organically as possible. Make sure that your relatives are comfortable during the process, and don’t push too hard on specifics. Often, exact dates and names get a little fuzzy with time, but any information is still worth jotting down. Here are some prompts to get you started:
  • What is your favorite memory from childhood?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What historical events do you remember from your lifetime?
  • What was your parents’ best advice for you?
  • Who is the oldest relative you remember?

Recording the Present

While uncovering the past, you may learn more about your family in the present. As the conversation moves in different directions, don’t miss out on the chance to learn more about your interviewee! This can be the perfect time to introduce the Talk of a Lifetime. Speak to your relatives about their life stories and learn how they would like to be remembered for future generations.

Celebrate Grandparent’s Day by Having the Talk of a Lifetime

Elderly Couple

While you can celebrate your family every day, Grandparent’s Day provides a special opportunity to spend extra time with those you hold dear. This festive holiday falls on the Sunday after Labor Day, which gives you plenty of time to plan! Whether you go out for brunch or stay in and chat, you’ll make wonderful memories that you can cherish forever. This is a great opportunity to use the Have the Talk of a Lifetime materials to learn a little bit more about your grandparents on this special day.

Getting the Word Out

Not everyone has Grandparent’s Day penciled into their schedule, so get the word out to inspire your friends and family to participate! Sure, you can send a quick email or text to your contacts, but why not take to social media? Use the hashtag #DoSomethingGrand to connect with others around the world!

Plan an Activity Together

Grandparent’s Day is a special occasion, use the day to plan something fun! Brainstorm your grandparent’s favorite activities. Maybe Grandpa would love watching a ball game in the stands, or maybe your Grandma would love some help in the garden. If you can’t think of any shared hobbies, consider volunteering for a cause that matters to your family. From animal shelters to food banks, these organizations always appreciate an extra set of hands!

Stay in and Chat

Of course, you could always celebrate from home! Why not celebrate Grandparent’s Day by having the Talk of a Lifetime? Download and print a free Activity Guide and fill out as much as you can! Take this time to have an in-depth conversation with your grandparents about their personal history. Bring out the old photo album and flip through every page, or ask a few questions about a family heirloom. As you learn more about your grandparents, you’ll get a better idea of how they want to be remembered. Consider starting with a few of these prompts to get the ball rolling:

• What is your most treasured achievement in life?

• What was the best advice you’ve ever gotten from a family member?

• What is your favorite thing to do when you have free time?

If you need more advice on having the Talk of a Lifetime, feel free to check out the Talk of a Lifetime website for additional resources!

Discover How to Preserve School Memories

Crayons and Logo

Whether your little one is starting preschool or getting ready to graduate, every student deserves recognition for their hard work! Preserving school memories can be a wonderful way to honor such an important time of life, while creating keepsakes that can be shared with future generations to come. Learn all about our favorite creative methods, and then start gathering supplies for a fun afternoon project!

Premade Books

There are tons of amazing interactive books on the market that are designed to chart your student’s growth in school. These pre-assembled books are full of pages to fill in, spaces to decorate, and quizzes to complete. Every year, your child can fill out a new set of pages to capture a moment in time. After the book is completed, flip through with your child and note all the different changes. Maybe your junior athlete morphed into a great artist, or maybe your little one discovered a love for science. These compact books are tons of fun to fill out and easy to store.

DIY Scrapbooks

If you’d like to make your own keepsake album, try making your own scrapbook. A 3-ring binder is inexpensive and durable, so it makes the perfect place to store old artwork and projects. Be sure to write the date on every piece, and you can ask your little one for a short description to remember the hard work that went into each project. You can also use your scrapbook to showcase school pictures. By graduation time, you’ll have a full set of images to reflect your child’s incredible growth through the years.

Enlisting Help

While you can preserve school memories on your own, why not get the whole family involved? Your child can write captions for a photo album or decorate the margins, while the grown-ups cut and glue down pages. You can also use this as an opportunity to connect with other generations of your family. Invite the grandparents over to talk about their memories of school. How did they enjoy their first day of school? Who was their favorite teacher? What did they do on summer vacation? Consider checking out the Talk of a Lifetime website to discover more prompts and resources. Be sure to check out the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards, they are a fun way to learn new things about the ones you love! You’ll learn so much more about your family, while discovering how they want to be remembered in the future.

Genealogy Talks: Sharing Family History at a Family Reunion

Family Tree

Genealogy is an exciting hobby that can lead to plenty of new discoveries. Whether you’ve just created a family history book or uncovered a new historical tidbit, there’s no better way to showcase your knowledge than at a reunion. But, just how should you go about sharing family history at a family reunion? In this guide, we discuss our best tips and tricks to deliver a wonderful presentation that your family will remember for ages.

Create Visual Aids

One of the most popular genealogy tools is the family tree. Consider getting a large printout of your family tree, so everyone can easily see your hard work. You can make the chart as simple or elaborate as you’d like, but adding pictures and decorations can be a great way to get people talking! The family tree in the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Activity Guide is a great place to start!

Utilize Multimedia

If a picture tells a thousand words, how many words does a video tell? Digital video and audio recordings can add a new layer to your storytelling experience. Interview your family members to get a deeper understanding of each family era. Play your grandpa’s favorite songs from high school, or play video from your mom’s first piano recital. While you’re gathering data, this can be a great time to ask extra questions about your family history. Have the Talk of a Lifetime, it can help develop a whole new understanding of your loved ones, including their hopes and aspirations. You can find more resources on the Talk of a Lifetime website.

Encourage Interaction

While sharing family history at a family reunion is a great chance to showcase your research, why not involve your loved ones as well? Ask family members to bring in special photos or mementos with a story. You’ll have a blast going through each contribution while learning something new about your family tree!

Discover How to Create a Family History Book

Writing Journal

Your family history is like no one else’s, so why not record it for later generations? Genealogy books have been created for decades by those who want to keep their family memories alive. These dense volumes are packed with data: birth dates, obituaries, marriage certificates, and more. But, there are tons of ways to add your own flair to showcase your family’s true personality. In this blog, we take your through the process step by step. Learn how to create a family history book, and then get started today!

Planning the Book

When composing your family history book, you’ll deal with tons of facts and figures. Therefore, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Consider checking out a few books from the library or look into genealogy software to make the process a little faster. Then, think about how you’d like your book to look. Standard paper sizes are easier to work with and cheaper as well, but you can customize your book however you’d like. Consider playing around with fonts and colors for a personal touch.

Recording Text

It’s important to keep names and dates straight, but your personal history book is much more than a simple timeline of events. Go further with your content by conducting interviews with your relatives. Maybe you know your grandfather grew up on a farm, but what were his favorite hobbies? What was his proudest achievement? As you speak with your loved ones, Have the Talk of a Lifetime to take a deeper look at their lives. Check out the Talk of a Lifetime website for additional tips!

Utilizing Data

In some case, you may find charts and photographs can convey what simple text cannot. Why not add a family tree to show the connections between each relative? What about adding a few pictures of your parents’ wedding? As you go through this process, don’t forget to keep a rough draft of your index. Keep track of which relatives are mentioned on what pages, so you can easily find information later.

Finishing the Book

Once you are finished, it’s time to admire your hard work! Print and proofread your text for accuracy, and once everything is perfect, print out a final copy to share. This makes a perfect gift for family reunions, holidays, anniversaries, and more.

Celebrate Sister’s Day in August

Sisters with Camera

If you have a sister in your family, then start preparing for summer festivities in August! Sister’s Day is the official day to celebrate your sibling, and it’s the perfect occasion to catch up. This celebratory day falls every year on the first Sunday in August, so make a note in your schedule to keep that weekend free! Not only is this a great time to spend time with your family, but it can be the ideal time to really dive into important conversations with your sister. Find out a little more about this holiday below, and you’ll have plenty to talk about this on this special day.

Planning Activities in Person

Sister’s Day only rolls around once per year, so why not plan something special for your sis? If your family is in the same town, a casual get-together can be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. You can plan something as simple as coffee or as elaborate as a spa day for two. No matter what’s on the itinerary, you’ll love creating new memories that you can treasure forever.

Sending Your Love from Afar

What if you live far away from your sister? Sister’s Day can be a great time to reach out. Modern technology makes it easier than ever to reconnect with those that you love. Send a quick email or text to show how much you care, or use the hashtag #NationalSistersDay to tag your sis on social media. You can also try sending a greeting card in the mail or an e-card with just a click! You could even Have the Talk of a Lifetime over video chat!

Showing Your Support

Above all, Sister’s Day is a day to celebrate your deep bond with your sibling. This is a great time to let your sister know that you are there for her, through good times and bad. We recommend taking some time to have a long conversation about issues that matter the most. Ask your sister about her hopes and dreams, her greatest achievements, her proudest moments. Ask her how she’d like to be remembered by future generations, and what kind of impact she’d like to make on the world. Sister’s Day is the perfect time to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Browse our site for additional questions, including a free workbook if you need help getting started. You’ll strengthen your bond with your family, while learning valuable information for the future.

Take the Month-Long Memories Challenge

Holding Clipboard

Do you ever wonder where the days have gone? In today’s hectic world, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That’s why it’s so important to take a few minutes each day to reconnect with the things you truly care about. But, how can you remember to do this? Consider making time in your schedule for the Month-Long Memories Challenge! This fun event will challenge you to dedicate a little extra time for yourself and the ones you love and fuel your conversations when you have your Talk of a Lifetime.

Just how does it work? Every day, you’ll find a new prompt to inspire a trip down memory lane. By the end of the month, you’ll have revisited tons of memories that you may have forgotten! Though you can treat each prompt as an exercise in self-reflection, you might have more fun while comparing answers with friends and family. Why not have The Talk of a Lifetime and find out a little more about each other? You can strengthen your bond with your loved ones, while ensuring that they will be remembered fondly for generations.

Questions of the Day

Below, you’ll find a full set of questions to guide you through the Month-Long Memories Challenge. Remember: Each prompt is just a starting point! Feel free to dig a little deeper into each question, or make up your own prompts to personalize the challenge. Have fun!

1. What is the earliest memory that you can recall?

2. What was your favorite food as a child? Has it changed over the years?

3. What are some of your earliest memories from elemantry school?

4. Describe your favorite memory with your family.

5. What do you remember from your first day of elementary school?

6. What was your favorite birthday? What happened that made this day special?

7. What is your favorite memory of summer?

8. What do you know about your family’s history? Have you ever tried genealogy?

9. What was your dream job when you were a child? What about now?

10. What was your favorite outfit as a teenager?

11. What is your proudest achievement from school?

12. What was your favorite song in high school? Do you still know the words?

13. Did you attend prom? Why or why not?

14. Who was your biggest influence as a teenager?

15. What do you remember from your last day of high school?

16. How did you feel when learning how to drive? Did you pass your test on the first try?

17. Describe your very first car.

18. Did you ever keep a journal? Do you know where it is?

19. What were the biggest trends when you were in high school?

20. Who was your favorite teacher? What made them stand out?

21. What causes are important to you now? Has this changed?

22. Find your favorite picture of your family and describe each member in one word.

23. What is the best concert that you’ve ever attended?

24. What is your fondest memory of the wintertime?

25. What was your favorite movie when you were younger, and what is your favorite movie now?

26. Describe the earliest memory of your grandparents.

27. If you could go back to any restaurant that you’ve ever visited, where would you go and what would you order?

28. How did you meet your best friend?

29. Have you lived through any historical events?

30. What is your favorite memory of this year?

31. What memories do you hope to make in the future?

Top Five Ways to Create Family Memories

Crafts Image People are busier now than ever before, so it’s important to truly cherish the time spent with your family. However, it can be tricky to find new and exciting ways to build your bond. Luckily, we’ve assembled the top five ways to create family memories that you’ll remember for a lifetime! We wouldn’t be surprised if these memories are brought up when you have the Talk of a Lifetime with your loved ones.
  1. Create a Family Scrapbook This family-friendly activity is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Everyone can contribute something fun to the family scrapbook. The kids can pick out their favorite pictures and arrange them on the different pages, while adults can write out the captions. This is a great time to talk about your favorite moments as a family, so you can enjoy more great memories in the future!
  2. Take a Trip Everyone deserves a vacation, so why not bring the whole family along? Whether taking a day trip to a national park or planning a tropical getaway, there’s nothing like seeing the sights with your family! Ask your family members about their dream vacation spot and keep track of when everyone is free. You just may find yourself packing your suitcase sooner than you think!
  3. Try a New Activity Is there any activity that you’ve always wanted to try? Ask around and see what your family says. Maybe your sister has always wanted to go ice skating or your Dad would love to try sailing. Make a list of all the answers that you get and circulate the list to your family. Pick an activity, and schedule a date! Don’t forget your camera!
  4. Give Back to the Community Volunteering for local organizations is a great way to bond with your family while giving back to the community. Consider helping with a local food bank around the holidays or volunteer at a 5k fun run on a weekend. Brainstorm to figure out which charities and causes matter the most to your family. You might be surprised to learn what values you have in common.
  5. Schedule a Night In Sometimes the best memories with your family are simply spent talking. Arrange a night in with your family to reconnect over a meal, and let the conversation flow. This can be the perfect time to have The Talk of a Lifetime, so you can really learn how your family members want to be remembered. Download the free Activity Guide and participate in the games and other fun activities within the guide!

Learn All About Collecting Heirloom Recipes

Recipes Every family is full of unique culinary traditions that are well worth protecting. One way to honor these memories is collecting heirloom recipes. This can be a wonderful way to reconnect with the ones you love, while creating a resource that future generations can enjoy as well. Sharing favorite recipes can also be an excellent starting point for having the Talk of a Lifetime!

Gathering Recipes

Think back on your favorite food memories from childhood. Do you remember grandma’s freshly baked cookies during the holidays? Did dad’s secret barbecue recipe cause a commotion every summer? Make a list of your favorite foods and reach out to your family members for more information. They’ll be happy to know that their recipes stood the test of time! Of course, the directions and ingredients list are crucial, but it’s also fun to get a little bit of history about each dish. Who created the recipe? How long has it been in the family? You just might get a lesson in genealogy while creating your family recipe box! This can also be a great time to have The Talk of a Lifetime, so you can get to know your loved one even better.

Assembling Your Collection

After accumulating a stack of recipes, think about how you’d like to display them. Are you creating a recipe box for your own personal use, or would you like to create a resource for the whole family? Here are a few suggestions to present your collection in a personal way.
  • A classic recipe box is a simple and easy way to showcase the family recipes. Use a stack of index cards to write the recipes or create your own custom cards with acid-free paper. Don’t forget to decorate the box!
  • Why not make a family cook book for the holidays? You can easily upload text and photos onto the computer and print out multiple copies for the group. For a personal touch, you can even try your hand at scrapbooking.
  • Consider going digital by creating a blog or website, dedicated especially to the family’s recipes. Email your friends and family to share the link, and you can introduce tons of new people to your favorite dishes!
Download our free Activity Guide and write down your favorite recipies in the Recipie Corner section on page 16!

Do you feel lucky?


I grew up with Clint Eastwood and I loved his movies. He was a man of few words. Whenever he did speak they became famous lines in Hollywood history. One of my favorite was: “Go Ahead and Make My Day”. I believe he used this line in every one of the Dirty Harry movies! He used it when he wanted to get his point across in a not so subtle way.

Behind the scenes and in the engine room of a company, family, or a group of friends there is often times a fair amount of stress. Humans can get demanding and short tempered. They often say things in the wrong way and not in a way that could be taken in a kind and loving way? I know you can fully relate that life is often unfair, stressful and has its share of anxiety. I know that I would often like to whip out the line of old Clint and say to a nagging customer, family member, or friend: “Go Ahead and Make My Day”. Then give them the stare and then spit!

But guess what… we could do that but we would soon be putting up our going out of business signs, filing out those divorce papers, or sitting the basement by ourselves. In reality we learned that the world is full of conversations that we should have, but don’t. More often than not, we bite our lip, we shut up, we shut down and we just buck it up. The paradox of this process is that we become trapped in a false life where we don’t have authentic relationships. We are all too often called to take the high road. We dig deep and muster every level of civility we possibly can. Why? Because we should and it is what Mom wanted you to do! Yet.. the little man or woman inside our head wants to scream.

“Have the Talk of A Lifetime” requires that we explore the dynamics of authentic communication. We must learn how to digging deeper into more meaningful relationships with of our family and friends and still be respectful of the emotional baggage that surrounds and often inhibits the communication process.

In our book “Dance with the Elephant”, my co-author Duane Kuss and I, introduced what we called the four pillars of building a solid foundation in human interaction and communication:

  • Respect

  • Trust

  • Desire for Growth

  • Confidentiality

Respect is something that our society is losing very fast. I often feel that Clint Eastwood may need to dust off his saddle and ride back into town. We need to learn how to be more authentic and yet be respectful. It seems everyone is too darn busy shouting their opinions from the mountain tops to listen to anyone anymore. You might find our points interesting and helpful in your daily personal and work life to help you in a small way on this journey:

  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and feelings.

  • You should always try to use active listening skills.

  • Try to always gain clear and accurate understanding of the other person’s point of view.

  • Try to be as optimistic and positive as possible.

  • Be willing to invest your time and energy to improving the life of who you interact with.

When you think about it, respect means that you have the desire and ability to recognize value, worth and virtue in others. I don’t think it is mathematically possible that you can have people respect or trust you, if you don’t respect of trust them.

“Have the Talk of A Lifetime” requires respect and action. You have to be willing to engage in conversations that are deeper than the superficial ones. You need feed the desire to want to have a stronger connection with those you care about.

The secret principle throughout human behavior is that we become what we think about. If you surround yourself with negative people and you focus in on negative thoughts and feelings; you will manifest that “negative” reality. If you surround yourself with positive people and focus on positive thoughts; you will manifest a positive reality. In short, your life is often times in direct proportion to your focus.

I will be in my basement watching Clint Eastwood movies… your welcome anytime. Go ahead and make my day! Do you feel lucky… well do you?

Reckon so!

The Dude