Posted by Ancestry Team on September 9, 2016 in Holidays, Website

It’s often difficult for us to imagine our grandparents’ lives before we, or even our parents, were born. What were they like as kids? What did they like studying in school, when did they first fall in love, how did they spend their free time?

Happy senior couple in love
68% of the people we recently surveyed admitted they don’t know how their grandparents met, and over a third (36%) don’t know what their grandparents’ occupations were.

From the survey we also learned:

  • 56% don’t know the name of any great-grandparents
  • 42% don’t know what their grandparents looked like when they were younger
  • 38% can’t name the city any grandparent was born
  • 35% can’t recall their grandmothers’ maiden names

While records are a great way to discover key information about family members, without all of the pieces of the puzzle, it can be challenging to uncover your family’s past. What’s more is that most people feel that firsthand accounts from their grandparents are truly meaningful.  

This Sunday, September 9th, is National Grandparents Day and we urge you to take this opportunity to learn more about the people we wouldn’t be here without. Join us and take the #MyGRANcestry Challenge! 

Spend some time with your grandparent and ask them about their life. Where they were born. Where they lived. What schools they went to. What their favorite class what in school. What their first job was. Get them to share the details of their wedding day. And more. Visit our interview tips with a handy list of questions and interview prompts to get them talking about their early days.

Then, if you are lucky enough to be doing this in person with them, take a “grandparent selfie” and share on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #MyGRANcestry so we can see your pics and hear your stories about them!

Close-up image of a big men taking selfie outdoors

And here are three more ideas for Honoring Your Grandparents this Grandparents Day. Let’s show them how much they mean to us.



  1. Donna Dell

    What a great idea! My grandparents are gone, but I was blessed to hear some great stories from or about them over the years.
    On my father’s side, Grandma was a cute little piano teacher riding the same train as the Scots-Irishman who would become my Grandpa. He had been a lumber worker and farmer, son and grandson of homesteaders in Michigan. Then he became a school teacher. When he was courting Grandma, he would tell his students to do their writing quietly, and put his feet up on the desk for a nap. Apparently the students did well in their studies!
    When Grandma was a schoolgirl, the students plagued another girl by sneaking her wooden leg from under her desk when she took it off, and passing it around in the room. I don’t know why the teacher didn’t catch on sooner….another napping teacher? No…probably quiet kids playing pranks.
    Before they were married, at some time Grandpa homesteaded in South Dakota, but never proved up on the land. Wish I knew the dates. Maybe he came back to attend teacher’s college, or maybe he had a short little piano teacher on his mind. Wish I knew!
    So many stories…thanks for reminding me!

  2. Karen

    How about looking at it the other way – are you a grandparent? Why not write your life story detailing what your childhood was like. Describe things like the house you parents had, the schools you went to you, the games you played, the pets you had. I have started my life story. If typing is a challenge for you, record your life story using a recording device.

  3. Ed Yeutson

    This is something I have been trying to get across to my brother & sister and my wife’s siblings for years. When my mom & dad were in their early 60s I set them down and ask them to ID family photos. this brought back old memories for them as a child and up to the present. I am incorperating their story into the writing of are family history. And I will put our siblings storys of what they remember in it as well.

  4. Sandra McGraw

    I have an tree named Mills/Watts. My maternal grandmother apparently met my grandfather in Worcester, Ma. He had come from Boston having probably walked away from a 7 year marriage and calling himself a “divorced” man of which I never found evidence of one. My mother was born of the two and he soon abandoned my grandmother. I think he came around to visit sometime along the way as there was a tiny locket photo of him. I didn’t know enough about it all to ask my mother about it before she passed when I was 22. I joke that I am second generation illegitimate!! I found his older brother through a bulletin board and heard from them the story how my grandfather and his brother had gone to Florida to speculate on some land to raise tomatoes to send back to Boston to a family green grocer business but my grandfather disappeared! A newspaper article I found a few years ago about his younger brother taking a “…motor trip back from Florida stopping at relatives in White Plains, N.Y , Amsterdam, N.Y. before returning home to Boston.” Sounds like he was telling the relatives about what he found out there. I have never found a death record for my grandfather, nor any census records of him having gone somewhere else. Truly a mystery!!

  5. Barbara

    I didn’t know any of my grandparents due to distance and lack of funds to travel. That said, through researching and interviews with people who did know them, I’ve been able to uncover amazing stories.

  6. Linda Simons

    My maternal grandparents met at their local Gilbert and Sullivan society. We have pictures of them in costumes for various roles. Unfortunately, I don’t know how my paternal grandparents met, and I have no one to ask.

  7. Candice

    I feel lucky that I have known so much about my family history my entire life. My paternal grandparents met in college in 1913. Later he was a lawyer and Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court and she was an anthropologist. My maternal grandparents met at Bullock’s Wilshire in LA. He was a window trimmer who rose to be Vice President of the Bullock’s and she was a professional dancer who later danced at the grand re-opening of the Hollywood Bowl. One of my grandfathers died just before I was born and I only saw the other about once a year. Both my grandmothers, however, were a big part of my life.

  8. Davana Cox

    I wish I knew my dad’s parents but I know almost nothing abt them… Sadly I’m having a hard time with money as much as I’d like very much to know about my family tree..

  9. Karen Cole

    I sent my samplr and paid 7/10 and soon after e was told my results were in Now I just get mo,ey requests, NO PIE CHART, ,O TESULTS

  10. Yes, unfortunately that’s true and I’m one of those who don’t remember the names of great grandparents. My mum has done a huge genealogy tree all the way back to 1700s but I still don’t remember anyone after the grandparents

  11. Margie

    Fortunately, I know a lot about my family history because my mother and other family members were very good about talking about their relatives. It was somewhat of a oral tradition in my family for people to sit around telling stories about parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, children, and neighbor or community people. These people were great and storytellers and had the ability to hold the attention of their audience. As a child this was one of my favorite things to do. Listen to the stories of yesteryear and the information I learned from these times has really helped me in my family tree research. Although, I must admit, there is still so much that I don’t know about my ancestors and it has caused me to run into more than brick wall in my search. This is especially true for my mother’s paternal grandmother. I don’t have a lot of information on her family, I know her name was Lucinda Cobb and she was born in Tennessee. The same is true for my father’s maternal grandmother. All I know is that her name was Lucy Davis and she was born in Alabama. However, I’m not giving up on finding more information on both of my great-grandmothers; I believe that I will eventually discover them in my research. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  12. Tom Ontis

    Found out while viewing his draft cards for both World Wars that my grandfather was illiterate. His step son-in-law had to sign the cards for him. He died a few years before I was born, but I do have a picture of him that was turned into a postcard. He is driving a team (a teamster) down Third Street in Napa, CA. I know the spot.

  13. Brenda

    Unfortunately, I’ve never met my grandparents – they are deceased, and so are my parents. Fortunately, I had the names of my grandparents and researched their information on I learned a lot about my ancestors’ journeys. They all married at a young age. I have more information on my paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents. They were farmers in Columbus County, NC, and owned their own farm. Their wives stayed at home and took care of the children.

    I found a couple of cousins on the ‘shared ancestor hint.’ One of my cousins had published a book and it had a lot of information about my paternal side of the family – including photos. A picture I was happy to see was my great-grandmother (my father’s grandmother – his father’s side).

    A piece of informative fact – my father told me I resembled his mother.

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