Do you know much about the history of your family? If you’ve done any genealogical research, you may know quite a bit. Have you passed that along to your children? Family reunions are often held in the summer. If you’re going to one, take along some paper and a pen – you never know what you can learn from it.
As family members get older, their memories soon begin to fade. When your own family comes, you may be ready to learn something about your family history. Include your children in your discussions with older members of the family. They may have a different perspective of what’s important to learn than you have.
Go to the reunion prepared. Here is a list of things you may wish to have with you when you talk to different people in your family:
* Tape recorder, extra audio cassettes, batteries, or an extension cord.
* Video recorder, extra video cassettes, batteries, or an extension cord.
* Paper, pencil, or pen.
* Old photographs of people you may not be able to recognize.
* Copies of any old family documents you may have, such as family Bibles, deeds, death certificates, birth certificates, or marriage certificates.
* A list of pre-prepared questions you’d like to ask.
(Be sure to ask those being interviewed if it’s alright to use the audio or video equipment. They may not feel comfortable with being recorded, so have the paper and pen with you just in case.)
What types of questions would you ask if you had the chance? What are some things your children may want to know about their family history? Have them help you come up with your interview questions before you leave and have them ready to use.
Here are some questions you may want to ask. You may have many others, and there are lists available online to help you conduct a successful family interview.
1. What is your name (birth or given name, nicknames you may have gone by, married name)?
2. When and where were you born? For older family members, was it a home birth or were you born in a hospital?
3. Please list all of the members of your immediate family and include their birthdates, if you can remember them.
4. What do you remember about your parents and grandparents? Ask them for details such as where they were born and when.
5. What do you remember about when you went to school? How long did you go to school for, and how were schools different then than they are now?
6. Were you ever married before your most recent spouse? If so, do you have children from that marriage?
Family reunions are a great time to learn about your family history. Use the time wisely to spend with members who may be aging and who you may not have with you for much longer. Remember, however, that with older family members their memory may not be as good as it once was. Take what information they give you and see if you can verify it with other family members.
When you’ve finished interviewing your family, take the time to transcribe the information you received and offer to share it with others in the family. It might do more than interest you and your children. Others will appreciate the effort you took to write down the family history.