Interviewing Your Family and Relatives can be fun and also provide you with a treasure of genealogical information. With this post, I will tell you why it is important to do interviews, provide you with resources on how to interview, and also the types of questions that you should be asking your relatives.
To me genealogy is more than just a hobby, it is more than just collecting names and dates. To me it is about uncovering those hidden ancestors and along the way uncovering their stories either be their successes or failures. Stories about struggles and adversity while others of happiness and joy.
Why Interviewing Your Family and Relatives is Vital
A great resource and technique for uncovering your Mexican Ancestry are interviews. Be it either just asking a few questions or a full-blown interview. Interviewing is essential since it will provide a written, audio, or video record of your ancestors life’s, hopes, and dreams.
For example, if you interview your father and ask the sample questions provided later in this post you will not just record about him but also about his parents and grandparents how they were and his thoughts and impressions about them. You might also get some of those stories that have helped him define whom he is in life.
Who to interview?
I could list specifically the types of relatives one may have but I’ll save my time and your time, in short interview everyone and anyone you can.
Yes, all your relatives and family friends that might have had known or know a person.
Genealogists always recommend that you interview the oldest relative that you may have and it is true. For example, the best person to interview in my case will be my grandfather’s cousin who is 96 years old and still is of sound mind.
Imagine if I did not know whom my grandfather’s grandparents where.
Do you think that his cousin who has the same grandparents will know whom they were, you can bet he does. He might even know whom his great-grandparents were.
How to prepare for Interviewing Your Family and Relatives.
First, gather your notes about the person you are about to interview. Use all or some of the questions provided in the PDF in the next section.
Second, determine if it will be a written, audio, or video interview. For written interviews, you just need pen and pencil. I prefer audio recordings since with a digital recorder you can just transfer the file to your computer. The benefits of audio or video are that you don’t have to worry about writing information but only focus on asking the right question.
- Digital Audio Recorders (from Amazon) FYI – you can also use your smartphone.
- Video Recorders (from Amazon)
Third, contact them in advance and introduce your self by providing exactly how you are related to them (that is if it is a distant relative who does not know you personally).
Fourth, set up an interview date preferably in a quiet place.
Finally, don’t make it too long and always be respectful of their time.
For more great advise I recommend that you read FamilySearch’s Conducting Interviews PDF. View Here.
Sample Questionnaires for Interviewing Your Family and Relatives:
- Interview Questions – Compiled by Tracey Carrington Converse
- Sample Interview Questions – T. Harry Williams