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What to Ask a Relative

Never miss an opportunity to interview or sit down and talk to a relative, even if they are about your same age, there just might be family information, names and even a few stories or two you have never heard about.

Don’t start with “Tell me everything you know on the family.” That is too broad and won’t start you on the right foot with this relative. Instead be prepared to take notes or video or tape record your conversation, with their permission of course. Most important be ready with some good questions — ones that start off relating to the person you are interviewing.

Have some of these suggested questions written out for yourself and also a copy to the person you are talking to. They may need to see the words in front of them. Another way to start is to ask them to bring out an old photo album – people love to talk the people and events in photos.

Start with their full name, including for the ladies, any married names and their maiden name. An excellent question is to ask if they had a nickname in the past or still today.
about their birth, the date and place and the names of their parents and siblings. If a parent had remarried include that name.
Have them describe the house and neighborhood they grew up in. Go into about the school in the hometown they attended.
Discuss their siblings, the names, birth dates and which sibling were they closest to as a child and later as an adult.

Have them recall about elementary school and then high school. What was a favorite subject and what sports interested them?

The parents of the person being interviewed generally are a favorite topic a person likes to talk about. If they were close to their mother or father, there will many stories and shared events that can be covered.

Talk about the fun childhood activities, games, toys they had and enjoyed. That alone could be a big section of the interview.

Select when it looks best to stop for the time being
and set a date to cover other topics such as spouses, young adulthood, higher education, military service, occupation, and having children. The topics can be endless and one subject can lead to another.

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