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Interviewing Family Members When Creating a Family Tree

Updated on June 25, 2013
This is an example of a family tree that makes a wonderful gift.
This is an example of a family tree that makes a wonderful gift. | Source

Your Family Ancestry and Genealogy

One of the first priorities in creating a family tree is to interview your oldest surviving family members. Reaching out to the matriarchs and patriarchs in your clan will provide you with the best information possible in order to get started. These are the people with the oldest memories about the family and the historical times they lived in.

Questioning your relatives is extremely important in getting the most and best information possible. It is imperative that you know what questions to ask and find the most constructive answers to continue your research. Every family member will have something to add to your research, so be sure to talk to everyone in your quest to learn about your ancestry.

You will find that as you put the pieces together, there will be numerous pieces of interesting information. These stories will lead to more information and, in a chain reaction your ancestry will slowly come alive. Your heritage will appear in an exciting and interesting fashion leaving you hungry for more details.


Who to Interview

Call each of your eldest relatives including great grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and family friends. Everyone in your family will have something to offer. As I proceeded in making my family tree, I found that even the youngest of my clan had stories and additional information to contribute; information I was unaware of.

When you call your kin, tell them what you are doing and emphasize your appreciation for their contribution of what they know about your ancestry. Set up a mutually convenient time to call or meet to discuss your heritage and family history. Explain how important it is to you to know and pass on information in remembrance of those who came before you.

My Family Tree including Angels and photos of my ancestors
My Family Tree including Angels and photos of my ancestors | Source

Useful Products for Your Family Tree

Preparing for the Interview

Once you have set up a time and place to meet with your family members, you will want to be prepared to take a thorough and efficient interview. Let everyone know ahead of time the questions you will be asking so that they have enough time to think about each memorable incident, research with family bibles or other documents, and look for memory jogging pictures.

Before you speak with each person, be sure you have a tape recorder, notepad, computer, laptop, or i-Pad, to take notes. It will be impossible for you to remember the abundance of information you will receive, and you will regret not being prepared by losing much of your research right off the bat.

Create a Family Tree With Your Children

What to ask About Your Family History

  • Birthdates, marriage dates, death dates
  • Birth places, marriage places, death places
  • Occupations of ancestors
  • Holiday memories
  • Extraordinary stories
  • Places of residence
  • Religious beliefs
  • Immigration stories

Genealogy Research Quiz

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Take the Quiz

This article should be a great start on your ancestry adventure. Be sure to take the short quiz for a little fun before you dive into the hard work and research that will keep you occupied for years or longer; happy hunting.

Thank you so much for your interest in my work. I certainly hope the read was helpful and encouraging. Please feel free to leave a suggestion, comment, or constructive criticism in the comments section below. Your feedback is always welcomed and appreciated.

"Be kind to one another" ~ Ellen

God Bless You ~ Margaret Sullivan


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I scored 100 on the quiz - your advice is wonderful! I wish we would have done this when my parents were both alive, now we have to resort on what we can remember.

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Thanks so much for your comments, summerberrie and Millionaire Tips! I absolutely love genealogy research and have been actively involved for years.

    • profile image

      summerberrie 5 years ago

      Great informative hub, Margie. My sisters are getting into genealogy. They really enjoy sharing their findings and it is fun listening to long lost stories. Voted up and sharing!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      This is great advice for the beginning researcher. We often regret not talking to our older relatives while we have a chance. Voted up.