You will find the best 100 family history interview questions in this post. These questions will help you conduct a detailed family history interview to create an original source for your family tree research.
Documenting your family history by talking to living relatives is the best way to start your journey into genealogy. The story of a person’s life is intricate, and we want to get highlights as well as details.
I have included 100 question ideas in this post. To conduct your interview, choose a selection of the questions that you think are most relevant to the relative that you will speak with for your interview.
Here are some tips for making the best use of this list of these questions:
- If you would like to ask a lot of questions, consider conducting your interview in more than one session
- Avoid asking questions with a simple yes or no answer. We learn the most when our relatives tell stories about things we would not have thought to ask specifically about.
- Choose from a variety of the categories of questions below to be sure you give your relative a chance to talk about many aspects of their life.
- Be sure to listen carefully to your relative and ask follow-up questions based on their answers, even if the question is not on your list.
Finally, don’t forget to consider conducting this type of family history interview on yourself. Who better to tell the details of your story than you?
Now, let’s get started with the list of 100 questions!
Family History interview questions about identification information
The first category of questions that you should ask are basic personal identification questions. Of course you already know who your relative is, but you might not know every answer to the questions listed below.
- What was your full name at birth?
- Do you know why your parents chose to give you that name?
- When were you born?
- Where were you born?
- What were the names of your parents?
- If you had siblings, what were their names?
- If you know the names of your grandparents, what were they?
- Where did your family come from?
- Why did you move to where you currently live?
- What are other places where you have lived?
Family history interview questions about childhood
Your relative’s childhood played a crucial role in forming their adult identity. A complete interview will include a few questions about childhood experiences.
- What is your earliest memory from your childhood?
- What do you remember about the home that you grew up in?
- What kind of traditions did your family have growing up?
- What is your favorite memory of your mother?
- If you practiced a religion, which religion was it?
- Did your grandparents have any unusual customs?
- Are there any traditions or customs from your childhood that you still practice?
- What was the name of your favorite childhood friend?
- If you ever took a trip or vacation as a child, where did you go?
- Who was the oldest relative that you remember meeting as a child?
- What was the strangest food that you remember eating while growing up?
Family history questions about family life
One of the most important aspects of an individual’s life is their role as a family member. Whether it be as a child, parent, sibling, or cousin, documenting a person’s role in their family is important.
- Would you describe the family that you grew up with as close? Why or why not?
- How important is family history or genealogy to your immediate and extended family?
- Describe a holiday or celebratory meal that you remember from your childhood.
- What is the name of your spouse?
- What are the full names of all of your children?
- What were the favorite traditions practiced by your family?
- What were your favorite activities to do as a family?
- Where did you usually take your family on vacations?
- What type of family gatherings were held by yourself or your immediate/extended family as adults?
- How do you preserve family memories?
Family history questions about jobs and employment
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- What did your parents do for a living?
- Which occupations did your grandparents have?
- Did any members of your family have their own business?
- Which occupations did your parents encourage you to choose?
- What was your very first job?
- What would you consider to be your main occupation?
- Why did you choose the career that you did?
- What would you consider to be your biggest professional accomplishment?
- If you had multiple careers, what were they?
- What job did you have that you think might surprise me?
- What would your dream job be?
Family history questions about social life
An active social life is very important for many people. Learning about your relative’s friends and other social relationships can provide important insight into their life.
- What was the name of your earliest childhood friend?
- How did you meet your first best friend?
- Who was your best friend in high-school?
- How important were your friends as a young adult?
- Who is your oldest (longest time) friend?
- Is there a friend that you lost touch with?
- How often do you see currently see your friends?
- Who would you say your closest friend is today?
- What kinds of activities do you currently do with your friends?
- How important have your friends been to you throughout your life?
Family history questions about hobbies and recreation
Hobbies and recreational activities are part of what makes us unique – and human. By documenting our relative’s hobbies, we gain important knowledge about our family.
- What kind of hobbies did your mother and father have?
- What were your three favorite hobbies?
- How big of a role would you say that your hobbies play in your life?
- Where did you learn about those hobbies?
- How old were you when you started participating in these activities?
- Did you play any sports as a child or an adult?
- Did you pass your knowledge of a hobby on to another family member?
- How would you spend a day right now if you could do anything you wanted?
- How would you have spent a day 20 years ago if you could have done anything?
- What is something that you wish you had learned how to do?
- If you could have been skilled at a sport, which sport would you choose?
Family history questions about education
Education is very important to many families. These questions will help you document your family’s education philosophies, as well as where and how your relative was educated.
- What was the highest level of education that your mother completed?
- What is the highest level of education that your father completed?
- What is the highest level of education that you completed?
- How important would you say that education was to your parents?
- Did any of your grandparents go to college?
- How important was education to you when you were raising your family?
- What was the name of your high school?
- What was the name of your college?
- Which degree or diploma did you receive?
- If you could have chosen to study something else, what would you have studied, and why?
Family history questions about religion and spirituality
For many people, religion is an important part of their life and belief system. Religion is often something that is passed down in families, and religious institutions are often a really great place to find genealogy records.
- Which religion did your maternal grandparents practice?
- Which religion did your paternal grandparents practice?
- Which religion did your family choose to practice when you were growing up?
- How did your parents decide which religion to practice?
- What are the most memorable religious customs your family had when you were growing up?
- Which religious traditions did you choose to
- Which religion did you practice as an adult?
- Would you consider yourself to be a religious or spiritual person?
- What role would you say that religion or spirituality played in your adult life?
- If you attended religious services, where did you attend?
- Which religion outside your own do you find most interesting?
Family history questions about community
- What types of community activities did you and your family participate in while you were growing up?
- Which of those community activities did you continue to participate in as an adult?
- What types of community activities do you do now that you didn’t do as a child?
- How much influence do you think that your parents or grandparents had in affecting the community activities that you participate in as an adult?
- How important do you think that it is to feel comfortable in the community that you live in?
- What are the aspects of your community that you enjoy the most?
- Do you feel that you are an important member of your community? Why or why not?
- What do you think has been the biggest contribution to your local community?
- What do you think could be improved about your community?
- Who is the most notable local member of your community?
Family history questions about health
- Did your parents have any major health conditions?
- Did your grandparents have any major health conditions?
- Do you remember any “old wives tale” advice from your parents or grandparents?
- What is your best advice for staying healthy?
- How important is taking good care of your health to you?
I hope that this post has helped give you lots of ideas for questions to ask during your family history interviews. Documenting your family’s story is a great way to preserve memories and information for future generations!
If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or if you would like to add your own suggestions for questions to ask, please join us in the discussion below!
Thanks for stopping by today.