Add these kin and acquaintances to your interview list, and you may discover surprising facts and anecdotes about your ancestors.
Many genealogists have had the rewarding experience of interviewing older relatives about their lives. We do this to capture their stories and connect with them while we still can.
But too often, we question only our oldest relatives or those who are failing in health. We neglect siblings, spouses, children and even our parents. As family history sources, they can seem too close to us. After all, don’t we all know the same stories and people? And if they remember things differently than we do, do we really want to hear their versions of the past?
The truth is, in a marriage, each spouse will recall different details from the courtship. Every child will remember his or her mother in a unique way. Our parents’ perspectives on our childhoods are astoundingly different from our own. And of course, there’s a part of every family member’s life that we didn’t experience, whether it was a father’s youth or a sister’s college years.
You may have a sense of your family’s history based on your own experiences and what your oldest and most talkative relatives have told you. But younger relatives, collateral kin (that is, any blood relatives who aren’t your ancestors) and a host of folks who aren’t even family can paint a truer—fuller—picture.