Monday, October 13, 2014

Acquiring Information from a Relative

When it comes to gathering additional information, after you've added what you can, it is a good idea to ask other family members. Often in the same family, individuals remember events differently. An example of this is when a group of people look at a painting, each one in the group sees different things in that painting.

Additionally, older members of the family will have memories that younger family members may not even be aware of as they were not part of the family yet. Case in point, my mother was the youngest and my aunt was the oldest, so when I approached each of them for family history information, while some of the information was the same, a good majority of it was different.

Some preparation is suggested in order to have greater success, not everyone remembers everything when just asked on the spot. Placing a phone call, writing a letter or even sending an email with some pre-set questions is often very helpful for the older family member. This gives them time to perhaps look things up and write them down so that when you visit they are more prepared.

Set a time that is convenient for them and bring some recording equipment, as recalling specific events can sometimes trigger interesting family stories or situations that help to bring life to the typical birth, marriage and death dates.

Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate their time and to send a 'Thank You' note once you have visited.

So what kinds of questions do you ask? There are a number of online articles to help with this,  Family Tree Magazine has put together a simple list of 20 Questions for Interviewing Relatives which is a great start. Another help is from Climbing Your Family Tree called "Good Questions for Family Interviews" which is also printable. FamilySearch also has a simple sheet that can be printed to help from their youth section in the FamilySearch Research Wiki entitled "A Family History Interview".

There are plenty of helps to make this a wonderful time spent with older and other family members. Spending time with family is always a great opportunity to create lasting relationships with those we love!

Comments Are Always Welcome!

Building Bridges for All Generations!

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1 comment:

  1. Claire,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!