In our hustle and bustle world it is sometimes easy to only look forward in life. We are so busy worrying about our “To-Do List” for the day that we forget how important it is to preserve our family history. This week, we thought we would share a few ideas to help adult children in Michigan work with family elders to record their family’s legacy. This can also be a great project to involve grandchildren in, especially those with strong technology skills.

Interviewing Family Elders

One way to document your roots is to video interview the eldest members of the family. Here are a few tips to make that easier:

  • Many cameras and smart phones have video features. Have someone with a steady hand document a variety of family members asking their elders questions about their childhood and the family’s roots.
  • Avoid asking yes or no questions. Open-ended questions usually elicit the best responses. Your senior loved ones may be a little more anxious at first, but after a few questions they will likely open up and forget about the camera.
  • Try to involve of variety of family members to both ask and answer questions.
  • Be sure to save each interview as it is recorded so you don’t risk losing it if the project takes a while to complete.

Here are some sample questions to ask during family interviews:

  • What’s your earliest childhood memory?
  • Where did you live when you were born? What was your home like?
  • How did your parents meet?
  • Where did your father work?
  • Did your mother work?
  • What chores did you have around the house?
  • How did your family celebrate holidays when you were a child?
  • Who was your childhood best friend?
  • How did you meet your spouse? Who introduced you?
  • How did you learn to drive?
  • What was your first job? How did you spend your first paycheck?
  • Where did you get married? What was the wedding like?
  • What was your school like?
  • Did you get to play sports or be involved in after school activities?
  • What were your favorite school subjects?
  • Who were your friends?
  • What was your favorite job and why?
  • Who are some of your heroes?
  • Do you remember the day President Kennedy was shot?
  • What days in history do you remember the most?
  • How old were you when you got your first television?
  • Were you an Elvis fan? How about The Beatles?

Finally, ask senior loved ones what they want future generations of the family to know. Is there any one thing they think is really important?

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