When interviewing family members, names of relatives and former neighbors can help jog the memory. The difficulty in some cases lies in knowing those names. There are some sources that can assist the family historian in obtaining names that may serve as the key to a floodgate of memories.
Consider finding the interviewee (or his or her parents) in the 1930 and other censuses. Ask the person about some of the family names on the same and nearby pages. Some of the families might have been neighbors for years. This approach can also be an excellent one when trying to obtain information for a neighborhood or township history.
County plat maps can also serve a similar purpose, but their limitation is that they only show landowners.
For those with more urban ancestors, city directories may serve a similar purpose. Just remember that some families lived in neighborhoods with a highly transient population, or may have been transient themselves. Be certain to determine if the city directory has a reverse directory (listing names by the order of their house number). This directory will make the obtaining of neighbors names significantly easier.
Church directories, yearbooks, and other similar publications may also provide names (or even pictures) to help jog your relative’s memory.
Who knows, these materials may even bring some of your own memories to the forefront.