Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Digging into the past

I was talking to my brother the other day and I suggested, rather strongly, that he calls our mother to talk to her. She's old now and very frail. When my gran died, not that I'm saying my mom is about to die, I lost, with her, a lot of the old stories and family history. The same goes for Jorge's dad. When he died, all that was lost. Today, this makes me sad. My mom is our final link to the older generations. This photo is of the first page in our family Bible, which was handed down to the oldest daughter in each generation. As I was raised by my gran, the Bible came to me when she died, so it skipped my mom's generation.

family bible

Yesterday, I received an e-mail that linked to a page that had interview questions on for genealogy purposes. It reminded me of Kippy's blog on the subject too. 'Interviewing' our family members seems a little odd though, but, I think, depending on the person, it can be fun. I can't see myself ever doing a straight interview with an older family member... none that I know anyway. My mind does tend to ramble and rush around grabbing at straws when face with an intense conversation over the past though, so I think that having a list of questions one can refer to can well be handy.

I think that what I would like to do is interview the younger members of my family with these questions, or at least some of them. Ok, again, not an interview, but as a basis for digging into the past. Perhaps using an 'interview' format will make it less intense as well? Nah... if the past is intense, it is bound to be an intense process. I actually think a list of questions like this is great blog fodder too, encouraging writing one's memories. What do you think?

The list:

  1. What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname?
  2. When and where were you born?
  3. How did your family come to live there?
  4. Were there other family members in the area? Who?
  5. What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?
  6. Were there any special items in the house that you remember?
  7. What is your earliest childhood memory?
  8. Describe the personalities of your family members.
  9. What kind of games did you play growing up?
  10. What was your favorite toy and why?
  11. What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
  12. Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?
  13. Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?
  14. What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High school? College?
  15. What school activities and sports did you participate in?
  16. Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
  17. Who were your childhood heroes?
  18. What were your favorite songs and music?
  19. Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names?
  20. What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?
  21. Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?
  22. Who were your friends when you were growing up?
  23. What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
  24. Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
  25. How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
  26. How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?
  27. Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
  28. What do you know about your family surname?
  29. Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
  30. What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?
  31. Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?
  32. Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?
  33. Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
  34. Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?
  35. What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents?
  36. When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?
  37. What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
  38. Where and when did you get married?
  39. What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?
  40. How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
  41. What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
  42. How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time?
  43. Why did you choose your children's names?
  44. What was your proudest moment as a parent?
  45. What did your family enjoy doing together?
  46. What was your profession and how did you choose it?
  47. If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice?
  48. Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
  49. What accomplishments were you the most proud of?
  50. What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?

Thank you to Eileen for referring me to Geni.com, a super, fun, and easy site where the entire family can interact to build the family tree.

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  1. I think that's a great idea. I got my one uncle (the family historian) to write the names and family links of everyone on the back of all our old photos. Even so there are still face staring at me in the album who I have NO idea who they were... which seems strangely sad. :-(

  2. It is sad, isn't it? I have the names, but not the connections or photos. You may be interested in a site: Geni.com where you can invite other family members to help you edit the tree. I was surprised (and thrilled) with the response and how easy the site is to edit. The tree has grown far quicker than I imagined. From the "just we three" of two years ago, I now have a huge tree!

  3. Thanks Tint, I'll go take a look.

    Now come get your award. :-)



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