By Bruce Summers, Summoose Tales
An Association of Personal Historian colleague recently asked, what are some sample questions a teenager can use to interview his or her grandparents?
Well this was right up my alley since I have been my family’s personal historian and amateur genealogist since 8th grade…
My daughter asked her grandparents – How did you meet?
My son asked his grandfather – About his work and then follow-up questions about his family vegetable canning business?
Then he asked me – Do you have that recorded?
I asked my grandmother – Don’t you get lonely after we leave? What was it like during [the Great Depression, during World War II]? Tell me about [rationing, volunteering with the Red Cross]?
I asked my other grandmother – What was my grandfather like? What was it like to have to take over his business after he died (under age 50)? What was it like growing up in your hometown? How did you meet my grandfather?
Tell me about your parents? Was it hard for you to move across country when you got married? Why did you move to (our small town from the city)? What was my dad like growing up? Can you tell me the story again about how he and his [brother (burned down the haystack across the street in the field)]?
What was my [grandfather like (if he is deceased)]? How is [Aunt (Mary)] related to us? What were your parents like? What were my [other great-grandparents] like? Where were they from?
Other more current questions. What were you doing when [you heard about Pearl Harbor, that John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated, you heard about 9/11]? Who were your heroes when you were growing up?
PS Advice – Take along a digital voice recorder or use the voice recorder app on your Smart Phone and record your interview.
PSS If your grandparents have photos or interesting pictures or “objects” or furniture, ask them about these or “Who’s in this picture?”