How to Record Your Family History

There is an old African saying that says, “When an elder dies, it is as if an entire library has burned to the ground.”  This quote struck me after I have seen a further decline in my mother’s memory.  Since Mother’s Day is around the corner, I thought it would be a great opportunity to sit down with my mom and ask her some key questions that would help me to record the oral history of our family.  Perhaps, this list of questions will be an incentive for others to open conversations with their loved one and share enlightening and entertaining memories.  Here is my list of 35 questions:

What were the full names, dates of birth, and places of birth of your parents and grandparents?

What level of education did you parents complete?

What was their occupation?

Did your parents serve in the military?  If so, in what capacity?

What do you remember most about your mother and father?

What memories do you have of your grandparents?

How many siblings did you have?  Any interesting facts about your siblings?

Where were you born?  What setting?

What health issues did your family experience?

Any special talents in your family?

Tell me about the neighborhood you lived.

What traditions did your family establish?

What was your favorite holiday?  Why was it special?

Where did you go to school?  (Grammar school, high school, college)

Share a special memory of each school

How would you summarize your academic records?

What youth sport or activity did you participate?

What faith did you practice?  How did you worship?

What friends made a difference in your younger years?

Talk about your job history?

How old were you when you started driving?  What was your first car?

Who was your first date?

What did you do for entertainment?

How old were you when you got married?

Talk about your wedding day.  Anything significant?

What special tradition did you do during your wedding?

Who stood up for you at your wedding?

Explain a time when you were rebellious?

Has there been a time when you were involved in a life-changing incident?

What has been your biggest accomplishment?

What has been your biggest regret?

What event in your life caused the most anxiety?

When have you been the happiest?

Is there a special quote or saying that you are known for?

What family tradition would you like to see passed on to future generations?

Every year, Family Tree Magazine reviews the best websites for doing genealogy research.  A complete family tree would also be a great way to record the history of your family. Check out their collection of the best 101 websites and begin building your own personal family library.


About the author

I am passionate about sharing senior citizen news and resources discovered from both my profession and personal journey.

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