Thanksgiving and the holiday season is a time to catch up with your relatives and talk with those who you might not see very often. Surround yourself with good food, great people and create long lasting memories.
This holiday season, take advantage of having all of your loved ones together in one place and dive deeper into your family history. Interviewing your family members has always been a great jumping off point for genealogists and family history enthusiasts alike. While the stories and details that they share might not be what lands you that missing marriage record, they will go a long way in understanding your ancestors, your family and how they got to where you are.
Start off by making everyone feel comfortable by letting your family know that this Thanksgiving you want to talk about family stories. By setting the stage, your family will be more likely to open up and won’t be so surprised when you start asking them a few interview questions. As the family historian in the family, let people know that this is an important step in telling your family’s story and they’ll be much more willing to share.
If your family is open to the idea, record some of the responses or stories that you get. Not sure how to record your conversations? Luckily we wrote a blog post on different ways to record audio, which will help you out with apps and computer software. Of course, not everyone is comfortable around a microphone or being recorded, so be ready with some paper and a writing instrument to take a few notes.
Always keep in mind that you’re trying to inspire a conversation, not an interrogation. Ask questions that might stir up a story rather than ones that elicit a brief response. A great example is, rather than asking when someone died and getting a date in response, ask about their funeral, who was there, where was it, etc.
Also, remember that if you take notes, write down as much of the story as you remember as soon as possible. And if you were able to record what was shared, transcribe it!
Without further ado, our expert Juliana Szucs Smith has made a handy downloadable PDF filled with great questions sure to kick start a great dialogue amongst your relatives! Click here to download our interview questions PDF.