Twenty Questions

Last week many of you wrote and expressed an interest in the twenty questions Kim mentioned in her quick tip regarding sending questionnaires to family members. She was kind enough to share it with us (Thanks Kim!) and here they are: 

1. What is your full name, date of birth, and place of birth?
(Include city, county, state, and country)

2. Where do you live now? (City/State) How long have you lived there?

3. What schools did you attend? When and where?

4. Do you have any siblings? If so, what are their names?

5. What are the names of your parents’ and their date of birth?

6. What are the names of your paternal grandparents’?

7. What are the names of your maternal grandparents’?

8. What do you remember about your grandparents?

9. What was life like growing up as a child in your family?

10. What is your fondest childhood memory?

11. What world event/events took place while you were a child? What impact did it have on you or your family?

12. What was the most difficult time you experienced as a child?

13. What was the most difficult time you experienced as an adult?

14. What is the best memory you have of your family doing something together?

15. Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?

16. Are you married? If yes, when and where? What is the full name of your Spouse? (Maiden name, if female.) Where was he/she born? When?

17. Do you have any children? (If yes, please list their birth names, date, city, county, state, and country.)

18. What is your profession/occupation? For how long? Had other occupations?

19. Have you had any major health problems? If yes, please explain.

20. In general, what are your thoughts on life today and events that are impacting the world?

17 thoughts on “Twenty Questions

  1. Thanks for the twenty questions. What a time saver! And I am getting the info from the horses mouth, so to speak.

  2. Juliana and Kim,

    Thanks for the list of 20 questions.

    My local society is doing a “Search Your Family History” workshop at the library in October, and I would like to use this list as part of the handout for the “homework” for the attendees.

    How can I get permission to do this? I’ll be happy to attribute the list – please let me know a name. You can contact me offline at rjseaver(a)

    Cheers — Randy

  3. Thank you for the Twenty Questions. I would wish to compliment the person and ask questions of him/her so that he would tell stories of achievements, and/or adventurers.
    What would you like most like to have recorded about yourself?
    What were your skills? fathers? mothers? Siblings skills?
    What fun did you have as a kid, teenager, adult, marriedee?
    What did your Dad used to do fun? Mum? Siblings?
    What were their skills?
    What have you achieved in your life time?
    Has an individual you know achieved something at all?
    What has your family achieved?
    What changes have you seen?
    What changes have you seen in the town and surrounding towns?

  4. Oh, Larry. You busted me! Ha! Ha! I don’t know how I left out #11. My apologies!

    Here is question #11

    11. What world event/events took place while you were a child? What impact did it have on you or your family?

    I just wanted to add that the 1st questionnaire I send to family members is the one above. It asks the most important genealogical questions, and as Elmo said above, you get the answers straight from the horse’s mouth. After I receive the answers, I send another set of 20 questions to those who responded the first time around. The 2nd set of questions are a bit more fun. I know I’m curious about my ancestors 1st crush & times when they got in big trouble with their parents. *smile*

    As for permission to use my questions…There is absolutely no problem with it on my end. Feel free to change the wording or add questions of your own. After all, it’s your genealogy.


  5. Thank you for the great list of 20 questions. There are some that I did not think of when sending out a Genealogical form to family members. And—Thank you for permission to copy the list. I like the suggestion of the second list of a more personal nature also.

    Norma Blake Christie

  6. Oops, I didn’t even notice that #11 was missing! Sorry ’bout that. I have added it in with the original list so that it is now complete.

    Thanks again to Kim for sharing these!

  7. Juliana and Kim,
    thanks for the questions..also great idea for follow up for individuals who to get the cousins to comply!
    I’m sure the members of our Genealogy Society will enjoy this as a handout..I plan on handing them out during our meeting if it is alright with Kim to copy.
    Thanks again

  8. I had #11! The margin just wasn’t quite right — I did look for ten minutes though to see which one I was missing and found they were all there! You’re playing with my mind – – – Paul

  9. As President of our local Genealogy Guild I gave a similar list of questions to each member. I rewrote them in story form and returned them in folders to the members for Christmas gifts. It was meant as encouragement to get them to start writing their own histories.

  10. My family had a reunion this past weekend (“The Second Annual Reunion of the Descendants of Dorothy J. (Rowden) McCammon”), and I used the 20 Questions idea for the gathering. I wrote one question per index card and asked everyone to choose a card. Each person read their question and agreed to respond by email. After giving a brief family history presentation, I reminded everyone to email their responses so that, one day, their descendants could sit around a table and read them. It was a great way to get the non-genealogy-addicted family members involved!

  11. Sorry, but I think the 20 questions list is much too long. It could take several hours to answer & many people wouldn’t bother with it, “I don’t have time to do it” & toss it! Maybe I would get too lengthy with my answers!? Hope everyone that uses it, does get it answered by everyone they give it to!

  12. The twenty questions are a good start. But as my Grandfather, Roy Claude Brown served in the second world war & then moved to Africa. From the little that I know of him, he was a great Architect & designed most of the buildings they now call Harare, but the 1970’s were hard out there. He designed the Anglican Church in Harare where his ashes still lay (I hope). He died suddenly in Salisbury, Rhodesia in 1977 two years after I was born & that is all I know about my Grandfather.

  13. What is question 11? Does it matter, probably not, but if someone is genuinely trying to trace family history, some of it Military dating back to 1800 – then why not ask relevant questions. I also agree with Kim, life achievements are far more important that where you were born, died or anything else.

  14. I’d like to add another question to (#3.)Helen’s list of questions to ask the second time around. “Do you have any photos or newspaper clippings that you would be willing to share and/or have copied about yourself, parents, siblings, grandparents, homesteads or special events (like weddings, the old home place, church founders, the prize bull at the county fair, the pheasants shot on opening day, the threshing crew)?” If you offer to pay for mailing sometimes you get some real treasures.

  15. Pingback: 24-7 Family History Circle » Your Quick Tips

  16. I can’t even get my neices and nephew to answer up to six questions. I’ve emailed them twice asking for verifications of their exact birth dates, I know where they were born. I have also asked for where and when they got married, and their spouse’s full name and where and when they were born, also the names of the spouse’s parents. At this time only one of them has kids and I also asked for that information. The last time I emailed them about this was over a year ago. That is one of my biggest frustrations, I contact people that I have located and ask for information about their families and get told something like we’ll line it up and get back to you. I never hear from them again. I contact them a couple more times and get told the same thing. I don’t have a car so my investigation gets done by phone, email, or letters.

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