March 27, 2015

How To Do A Genealogical Interview

Hand with pencil

Get comfortable

If you have made arrangements ahead of time to interview a particular person, try to do it in a quiet setting where there will be little or no interruptions. If you will be tape recording your subject, make sure ahead of time that your recorder is in prime working order (batteries, settings, etc.) and set it close enough to pick up all the dialog, especially if you have a quiet speaking interviewee. Talk about general topics if you will be taking notes, to get them comfortable with the interview setting. Speak slowly and clearly. Tell your subject that you will give them a break when they need one.

Begin with the basics

Depending on what you might already know about your subject’s name and birth dates, you can skip that information and focus on other questions that might give you more background information.

Some questions to ask:

  • Where were you born? (City, state, country)
  • Were you born at home, or in a hospital or nursing home?
  • Do you know what time of day you were born?
  • Was there a world event that took place the same day? (End of a war, weather event, etc.)
  • Were there other siblings? (This could lead to a long answer, so maybe save it to ask in a separate session.)
  • Where do you fall in birth order?
  • Did your parents both work? What were their professions?
  • What do you know about your mother’s/father’s ancestors? (City, state, country)
  • Are there any celebrities in your family tree?
  • Why did they come to the United States from that country?
  • Did they bring any family traditions with them?
  • What important lessons did you learn from your (Mother, father, grandparents, etc.)
  • Who were the best story tellers in your family?
  • What will you always remember about them?
  • Were you taught any special skills? (Cooking, carpentry, sewing, fishing, hunting, etc.)
  • What were the things you did as a child, teen, and adult that have given you the most pleasure?
  • Were you ever in any accidents?
  • What were the newest discoveries during the time you were growing up?
  • How has the world changed since you were a child?
  • In what way was the world better then?
  • What was your favorite subject in school?
  • What did you like to do after school?
  • Did you ride a bike to school, a bus, or walk? Or, were you taken to school by car?
  • Did you get good grades?
  • What was the extent of your formal education?
  • Is there anything that you would like to tell me about that you feel I should know?

Don’t expect to get all of your questions answered in one sitting. Take this list with you and highlight the most important things you want to know. If your subject is willing to answer more questions, then go back and ask your secondary questions.

Depending on your relationship with the subject, keep in mind that your questions could bring up sad or angry memories. If they do, either move on,change the subject or end the interview. This should be a fun exercise, not something unpleasant. Happy interviewing! :)

iPentimento’s Friday Feast 28 September 2007




Friday’s Feast

Appetizer
How are you today?

Feeling a bit groggy. I stayed up too late messing with my blog. I had planned to sleep until I woke up, but the phone rang. Dang the luck! :sad:

Soup
Name 3 television shows you watch on a regular basis.

CSI (Miami and Las Vegas; can’t stand the NY one); Cold Case and Without A Trace. :grin:

Salad
What’s the scariest weather situation you’ve experienced?

Many. The Columbus Day storm of 1963; a near miss by a tornado in 1972; evacuating Amelia Island, FL when Hugo was headed our way. :shock:

Main Course
If you could wake up tomorrow morning in another country, where would you want to be?

I would love to be in Scotland. I hear the pipes calling me! :wink:

Dessert
What do you usually wear to sleep?

A sleep shirt, or nothing at all. :cool:

[blenza_autolink ff]

I Guess It’s Been S. A. D.

Plate spinning

It’s the usual spinning plates around here lately. My friend is visiting from Idaho to have some medical and dental appointments taken care of before the end of her husband’s Navy career next year (unless he gets a good offer). Tomorrow we are accompanying her to the Naval Hospital so she can have a colonoscopy. I don’t drive, and so my husband providing that support, while I will be on hand to make sure she doesn’t “say something stupid” and end her husband’s career early. :wink:

She will be here for several days because we are going to tour the shipyard on Sat. too where my husband work, so she had to bring her three cats along. Three lovely, glorious girl kitties. We have one small- in-stature Smile!tuxedoed boy cat who is long in the tooth and as we found out this morning, still has enough hiss in him to make any visiting cat feel unwelcome. :evil: OK then…

Always a constant…my fibromyalgia. I think I have found something that at least helps me sleep better, and it isn’t a drug! Some years ago I bought a grow light (full spectrum) :idea: for my plants. Washington state is not known for having lots of sunlight all year ’round, so I thought that maybe my depression was due to having SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder. I probably do spend way too much time in front of the computer, and not enough time outside in the sunlight. I mean, if I am depressed in the summer, you know there has to be something wrong. Granted, it could be some situational depression, but if I am getting enough restorative sleep, what might be depressing me in my everyday life doesn’t seem so magnified.

I wouldn’t recommend using a grow light as a real therapy tool, but if I can see some obvious improvement in my sleeping just from using that, then it might be time to invest in a light box! Who knew? I thought my life just sucked. :shock:

By the way, all the kitties are sleeping right now, and no one has been hurt …so far. :wink: Smile!

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