As the past two weeks have passed, I’ve gotten one piece of advice that has been the most helpful: if there are any questions you have, now is the time to ask them.
I’ve been thinking about the things I know about my Grandmother, and I wish the list was longer. Most of the time we have spent together as I’ve become an adult has been focused on me and my life (duh, she’s the world’s best grandmother), and I am running out of time to find out more about her. So I’ve been thinking about the things I want to know about her and our family history. Every time I speak with her I’m trying to ask one simple question, something that will help her remember the fun times throughout her life while also helping me get to know the details that I always thought I had more time to ask about.
Here is my list of 37 questions to ask your grandparents (and parents) to get to know them a bit better:
- What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname?
- When and where were you born?
- How did your family come to live there?
- Were there other family members in the area? Who?
- What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?
- What is your earliest childhood memory?
- Describe the personalities of your family members.
- What kind of games did you play growing up?
- What was your favorite:
- Toy and why?
- Think to do for fun?
- Songs and music growing up? What about now?
- Color and dessert as a child? What about now?
- What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High school? College?
- What school activities and sports did you participate in?
- Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
- Who were your childhood heroes?
- What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?
- Did you ever go on any family trips as a child? What was your favorite?
- Did you have a special place that you liked to go as a child?
- Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?
- What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
- Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
- How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
- Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
- When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?
- What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
- Where and when did you get married?
- What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?
- How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
- What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
- How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time?
- Why did you choose your children’s names?
- What was your proudest moment as a parent?
- What did your family enjoy doing together?
- What was your profession and how did you choose it?
- If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?
- What has been your favorite place to visit or travel to as an adult? What did you do there that I should do when I go visit?
- What accomplishments were you the most proud of?
- What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?
- What is your earliest memory of me? What is your favorite thing that we have done together (or that our family has done)?
Hopefully these will give you a great insight into your grandparents.
There are some interesting questions about your family history that you could also ask:
- Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
- What do you know about your family surname?
- Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
- Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
- Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?
- What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?
- Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?
- Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?
- Where is our family originally from in the United States (or whatever country you live in)?
- Where is our family from in the world? How did we get to be located where we are today?
Thanks to About Geneology for help with this list. What questions would you ask your grandparents? Is there anything I’ve forgotten?