Interviewing Grammy and Pop Pop – What questions should a teenager ask?

12 Feb

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?

20141003_143151 Jane and Tom on back patio in New Freedom

My son asked his grandfather – About his work and then follow-up questions about his family vegetable canning business?

IMG_4015 Superfine Limagrands

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]?

20131110_212155 FDR 1 - the bread line

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?

img098 - Summers 100th - Caroline Stone Summers

Thomas Stran Summers, president 1945-1951

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?

Charles G. Summers, Jr., president 1923-1945Charles G. Summers, president 1865-1923

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?

20131110_214517 MLK 4 Full length front

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?”

Related Blogs:

Show and Tell – At the Chichester Family Reunion

Picking Raspberries

What’s in your basement? Personal Historians want to know, but you might also be curious…

Summers One Hundred Years


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