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.

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