Relatives are a great source for family information! Talk to everyone in your family, especially the oldest members. Glean all you can from their memories before they move on and you lose access to this valuable resource. Here are some interview tips for when you engage your relatives:
1. Take notes. You can use a smartphone recorder, or other type of recording device and transcribe later. Don’t leave details to your memory!
2. Call ahead. Give plenty of notice so they are prepared and looking forward to your visit.
3. Prepare in advance—bring a list of questions or objects that will spark memories. Suggested topics might include:
· Heroes–who did the person admire/look up to for a role model?
· Jobs: career goals reached?
· Courtship & Marriage
· Holidays-how were they celebrated?
· Vacations: what was a typical family vacation? Most memorable one?
· Accidents: any broken bones? hospitalizations?
· Food-favorites, comfort foods, mom’s specialties
· Family: kids? relatives? relationships?
· Community. Where did they live? Rural? City?
· Service: Military? Community?
· Moving: various homes lived in
· Church: religious affiliations? Awakenings? Philosophy?
· Outdoors–What did they do for fun? Sports? Hobbies?
· Mistakes-Advice to avoid mistakes they made?
4. Share the results with them. Give them a write-up of the interview, a copy of the audio or a copy of your finished project.
R is for Rachel; my number three child. I’ve already told her special story of being lost then found, so today I’ll tell about the time she set a goal to be nice.
Some background first: Husband took a course to be qualified to administer the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator Test, and had me and our 4 kids take it. The results were eye-opening–Rachel was the only extrovert in a family of introverts! That explained a lot.
So, Rachel was in 8th grade–middle school–and unbeknownst to the rest of her family, decided she was going to be friends with everyone at school. She specifically targeted the youngest students–the 6th graders–greeting them and mentoring them and being all-around friendly. She would post herself at the lockers and say, “hello!” to everyone who came by. This went on for several weeks, and I began to notice that she was always irritable when she came home from school. Finally, I asked her why she was such a grump, and she said,
“I am cheerful all day at school to everyone, and all that smiling is hard to keep up! Once I get home I’m too exhausted to be cheerful anymore!”
Now as a mother of 4 herself, Rachel is noticing history repeating itself…Her own daughter tries hard to be helpful and cheerful at home, but by the weekend, she is worn out with niceness and turns into grumpy cat for awhile. Fortunately, she has a very understanding mother!
Great video here on interview tips from Dave Robison.
This post is part of the A-Z Challenge 2014
Great post! I don’t have any older relatives so no one to bother x
Great advice, and great questions. I asked most of these when I was pummeling my mom with questions before she passed away, but there are a few here I never though to ask, and I wish I had. She was the last remaining sibling (of ten), so there’s nobody left to ask.
Sounds like you gave it the ol’ college try at any rate!
That is a cute story. Love it.
Patricia Lynne, YA Author
Aww…so sweet of her to be friendly with everyone at school… Spreading smiles! 🙂