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This is a RESEARCH site.
VERIFY it before accepting its authenticity.
The Family History Interview
What do I ask, How do I ask it, how do I record it and how do I verify its veracity?


Who should be interviewed?
Anyone who can provide information:
  • A relative.
  • A neighbor.
  • An official.
  • A witness to an event.
  • An expert in some related field.


Who should do the interview?
It depends.  For a family member, a grandchild or loved one may make the subject of the interview more at ease.  For a distant relative or someone unrelated, a more professional approach might be more appropriate.



What is needed to conduct the interview?


  • Obviously, any existing records or notes should be brought along to stimulate the conversation.
  • Names of relatives or ancestors.
  • Pedigree charts and Family Group Sheets.
  • Note paper.
  • Camera and audio recorder.



Example Questions.


  • Where were you born?
  • Who were your parents?  Where did they come from?  Did they die, when and where?
  • Who were your grandparents?  Where did they come from?  Did they die, when and where?
  • Do you remember any stories they told you?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • How many places have you lived in and what do you remember about them?
  • What did you do as a child?  Where did you hang out?
  • Where did you go to school?  Who were your friends there?
  • Did you participate in any extracurricular activities, like sports?
  • Did you have a trade or a profession?  Tell me about it.
  • Were there any special good times or hardships you remember?
  • Who were your parents' friends?
  • What did your parents do?
  • Did they tell you how they met?
  • Did you get married?  When and where?
  • How, when and where did you meet your spouse?
  • What was your wedding like?  Who came?  What do you remember about it, do you remember any gifts you received?
  • Did you have any children?
  • What are your children's names, and when and where were they born?
  • What do your children do?
  • What do you remember of the events that happened in your community or in world affairs?



How can the validity of the information be verified?


Many times, it can't.  The absolute best one can do is obtain as many evidentiary proofs as possible, and then to make some determination as to their credibility.  Follow up research, including other interviews or searches of records may be necessary.  When all is said and done, every genealogical proof is based upon some level of subjective criteria.  It will never be "absolute" proof, but it can be very compelling.



What other things can I do to enhance the value of the interview?


  • Take pictures of the people there and record their names and information.
  • Make copies of any old family photos (how to copy photos is not covered here).
  • Make copies of old letters, Bible pages and other documents.
  • Make a tape recording of the interview.