Having trouble coming up with questions to ask during family interviews? There are a couple of resources one can use to pick your relative’s brains for facts about their family to move forward in your research.
One is a little spiral book called “Mom Share Your Life With Me.” By Kathleen Lashier. PO Box 821, Marshalltown, IA 50158. @ 1993. It’s a one-memory-question-a-day (365) book. There is also another book in the series called “Dad, Share Your Life With Me.” I found my unused Mom book at a thrift store, so it might be available online. (check out my google library link)
If you are/were a homeschooler like we were, our support group passed around a list of questions that we could use to jumpstart our young student’s daily journaling (creative writing practice). Teacher mama or Principal Daddy would photocopy the questions, cut the questions into strips, then place them into a decorated jar. If the pre-teen/teenager was stumped for a subject to write about on a particular day, (s)he withdrew one question to write about. The following sample questions can be reworded to your particular need and most can be used as a beginning point to document your family history.
Journaling Jar Questions
1. Are there any family heirlooms in your possession? What are they?
2. Describe a favorite childhood friend and something you did with her or him.
3. Describe family traditions you remember from your childhood.
4. Did you go to Sunday school? What did you do there?
5. Did you have a close relationship with any of your grandparents? Tell about it.
6. Did you participate in any summer camps or mission trips?
7. Did you receive your education somewhere other than public school?
8. Do you regularly attend weekly church services? Where? Are you a member?
9. Do you know where any family members are buried?
10. Tell about ancestors you know about--names, dates, history etc.
11. Tell about any conditions surrounding your birth that you are aware of. Tell any interesting stories about your beginnings, how your name was chosen, etc.
12. Tell about your mother, characteristics, talents, temperament, family stories, and her role.
13. Tell a courtship story about your parents, how they met, etc.
14. Tell family stories about your Dad. What was his role in your home?
15. Were there any events national, global or local that changed your life?
16. Were you baptised or dedicated as an infant? If so, where and by whom?
17. What is the spiritual heritage you've inherited from your ancestors?
18. Have you ever stood up for what you believe, even when it was very hard? Tell about it.
I love Mary Engelbreit's art work. She is a St. Louis, MO. artist and have several books of hers as well as many of her collectibles like cards, coffee mugs, fabric, stationary, rubber stamps, teacups, tins, and so forth. Most of the items I find junking at thrift stores, garage sales, and at flea markets. David recently unearthed a 1993 book for me she illustrated called “A Mother’s Journal: A Collection of Family Memories.” It’s a fill-in-the-blank scrapbook with many questions to jog mom’s brain cells, help her organize her collection of family memories, and to present to her descendants. There are even pages for photographs.