Here are some questions to get you started:
- When and where were you born?
- What were your parents’ names?
- What is your happiest memory of your father? Your mother?
- What is the most important lesson your parents taught you?
- What are the names of your grandparents?
- What is your happiest memory of your grandfather? Grandmother?
- Where did you grow up?
- What did you do for fun as a child?
- How did you like school?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Tell me about your first date.
- How did you meet Grandma/Grandpa?
- Tell me about the day my mom/dad was born.
- What advice would you give to new parents?
- What jobs have you had?
- What are your strongest memories from your time in the military?
- What would be your recipe for happiness?
Bring the family closer together through family interviews
Your daughter may want to jot down significant historical events that occurred during her grandparents’ lives, such as the Great Depression or the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Then she can ask about them with a question such as, “What’s your most vivid memory of growing up during the Great Depression?”
If she’s been learning about the Great Depression in school, she’ll see how it affected everyday people and maybe even find herself an answer to that perennial question, “Why do we have to learn this?”
If you ask it, the answers will come
Use a question list as a guide, but it’s OK if the conversation leads your daughter to ask questions not on the list, or her grandparents to tell stories not related to a particular question. Looking at old family photos may spark her grandparents’ memories, too. (Find more oral history interviewing tips on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.)
Make sure you record the interview for posterity (and in case your daughter needs it for a report) using a digital voice recorder or an app on your smart phone.