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Old 12-23-2017, 10:08 PM
 
3,144 posts, read 2,722,382 times
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I may have an opportunity this next week to interview someone who knew my great grandmother and my great grandmother's siblings and spouses. She is 87. I'm trying to get together a list of questions. Anything you think I should ask? I have a few specific questions, but I'd like to make good use of the opportunity.
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Old 12-23-2017, 10:59 PM
 
2,724 posts, read 3,781,453 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarahsez View Post
I may have an opportunity this next week to interview someone who knew my great grandmother and my great grandmother's siblings and spouses. She is 87. I'm trying to get together a list of questions. Anything you think I should ask? I have a few specific questions, but I'd like to make good use of the opportunity.


If you Google "genealogy interview questions" than you will find many articles with sample questions that you can adapt to your interview situation.


Since you are interviewing this lady about people she knew than I would suggest questions that include her in the discussion, or she may get bored quickly.


Examples:
How did you meet my ggm?
What do you remember about the first time you spoke to my ggm?
What did the two of you like to talk about, or do together?
What other family members of mine did you know?
Do you remember visiting my ggm's house, and if so, what did it look like?
Especially if you have no pictures of your ggm, than ask this lady what ggm looked like?
Does she think that anyone in the family resembles ggm?
Does she know where ggm was born?
Did ggm ever talk about her parents or grandparents, or other family?


Enjoy your interview!!
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Old 12-24-2017, 05:18 AM
 
29,841 posts, read 30,588,896 times
Reputation: 13616
Quote:
Originally Posted by daliowa View Post
If you Google "genealogy interview questions" than you will find many articles with sample questions that you can adapt to your interview situation.


Since you are interviewing this lady about people she knew than I would suggest questions that include her in the discussion, or she may get bored quickly.


Examples:
How did you meet my ggm?
What do you remember about the first time you spoke to my ggm?
What did the two of you like to talk about, or do together?
What other family members of mine did you know?
Do you remember visiting my ggm's house, and if so, what did it look like?
Especially if you have no pictures of your ggm, than ask this lady what ggm looked like?
Does she think that anyone in the family resembles ggm?
Does she know where ggm was born?
Did ggm ever talk about her parents or grandparents, or other family?


Enjoy your interview!!
Good questions! I would ask also about when people born as well as where.
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Old 12-24-2017, 07:08 AM
 
3,144 posts, read 2,722,382 times
Reputation: 9057
Quote:
Originally Posted by daliowa View Post
If you Google "genealogy interview questions" than you will find many articles with sample questions that you can adapt to your interview situation.


Since you are interviewing this lady about people she knew than I would suggest questions that include her in the discussion, or she may get bored quickly.


Examples:
How did you meet my ggm?
What do you remember about the first time you spoke to my ggm?
What did the two of you like to talk about, or do together?
What other family members of mine did you know?
Do you remember visiting my ggm's house, and if so, what did it look like?
Especially if you have no pictures of your ggm, than ask this lady what ggm looked like?
Does she think that anyone in the family resembles ggm?
Does she know where ggm was born?
Did ggm ever talk about her parents or grandparents, or other family?


Enjoy your interview!!
Thanks! That is the type of thing I am looking for. I've been looking at interview questions. I need to tailor them and that's the hard part for me. I am asking for photos because she has some of the only ones in existence.
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Old 12-24-2017, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Minnesota
1,584 posts, read 536,183 times
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What was her family life like, did she like her parents, siblings.
Any funny, possibly embarrassing stories.
What were her parents like. How did her parents support family.
What did they do for fun.
What kind of music did they like.
How did she meet her spouse.
Did she go to wedding. Where did they live after marriage.
Did she go on any trips.
How long did she go to school for. Could she drive a car.
What's the worst thing, best thing you remember about her, her spouse, family.
Any sad stories.
Anything I missed asking you would like to tell me.
Any skeletons in the closet, family secrets.
Anyone go to jail, did something illegal like bootlegging.
Any family have medical issues.
Does she have any letters from her or from other family members, may I have them.

Last edited by Izzie1213; 12-24-2017 at 08:39 AM..
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Old 12-24-2017, 10:04 AM
 
3,927 posts, read 3,268,786 times
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If you have any old photos with unidentified people or places, this person may be able to identify them.

Old photo albums can really help someone recall old memories.
Also have your list of facts to help keep a story going, like the other siblings' names.

One thing I have noticed is if you talk two days in a row. The second day all sorts of great stories come from thinking about them the previous 24 hours.

Ask if she remembers when your grandparent was born. What school was like, what did they do for fun, pets,...

Ask about Pearl Harbor.
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Old 12-24-2017, 10:54 AM
 
Location: too far from the sea
17,374 posts, read 16,570,269 times
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The above suggestions are great. When I interviewed my late uncle, I took one of those lists from the internet. Some questions that got him talking were--what did you do for family vacations? what was Christmas like? what were your meals like?

Open ended questions that got him excited enough to really talk. With the family vacation question he told me that at the beach his father was like a whale and all the kids would climb on his back...that he was like a giant...that he was so strong that he had been considered as an Olympics participant! More information than I had expected.

Ask about what the person (or their parents) did for a living. You might really get them talking--how did they get interested in doing that kind of work? What was your mother like? What was your father like? What were your meals like? Really gets them talking and talking.

When I asked direct questions, I only got short, direct answers. In contrast, the open questions really got him talking and digressing--it was in those digressions that I was able to extract the most interesting and unexpected information.
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Last edited by in_newengland; 12-24-2017 at 02:59 PM..
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Old 12-24-2017, 12:17 PM
 
Location: 5,400 feet
1,972 posts, read 2,172,074 times
Reputation: 2531
Consider using a digital voice recorder rather than taking notes (probably $30-40). That would allow you to have a conversation rather than trying to take notes and keep the words flowing, and to play back the entire conversation later.
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Old 12-24-2017, 03:25 PM
 
3,144 posts, read 2,722,382 times
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This person is actually an in-law who married into the family. Most of my questions will not be about her life. She knew my relatives. I will be interested in how she knew them and how she interacted with them. Who all made moonshine is definitely on the list. My direct relative was a professional in the business. His still was destroyed when my grandfather got caught with it a few years later .
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Old 12-26-2017, 01:53 PM
 
2,724 posts, read 3,781,453 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarahsez View Post
This person is actually an in-law who married into the family. Most of my questions will not be about her life. She knew my relatives. I will be interested in how she knew them and how she interacted with them. Who all made moonshine is definitely on the list. My direct relative was a professional in the business. His still was destroyed when my grandfather got caught with it a few years later .
Welcome to the club. Our uncle (who lived to age 99) remembered going to visit his uncle's store in Brooklyn during Prohibition, and found his uncle and cousins making hooch in the back of the store! LOL


These kinds of stories are what makes our ancestors so real to us.


I also agree about asking open ended questions and than you can hear her stories.


Make sure she is comfortably seated, and has tea and snacks to eat. People will talk more easily if they are comfortable and well fed!


Looking at old photos can bring back memories. Ask where and when a photo was taken, who is in the photo, any questions about how they were dressed in the photo, why the photo was taken, i.e. special occasion.


Good luck, and let us know how the interview goes.
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