Last Updated on April 30, 2020
Whether you’re asking genealogy questions to try to piece together family history or you’re working on interview questions for old age home, questions to ask an older person about their childhood or about their family history can be incredibly valuable. There are things and memories you can write down that you can pass on to your children, there are interview questions you can help an elderly person answer for a nursing home, and there are missing pieces of your family’s health history you can piece together for your own medical history. Read on to learn more about the right questions to ask about family history, what are some good questions to ask about family history, and what are the benefits of oral history.
Questions About Family History: When Did Oral History Begin?
Of course, history has been around since the beginning of time, but most historians consider the 1940s to be the beginning of when oral history has its birth. It was then that Allan Nevins of Columbia University first used tape recordings to try to record things of historical significance on tape. So, why is oral history so important? Because it helps give a fuller, less biased version of the past. Pictures, articles, letters, and diaries are, of course, important, but having an oral recount of the past offers a more accurate picture. If you’re interviewing your grandparents or your parents, of course they’re retelling their memories as they remember them based on the questions about family history that you’re asking, but this still paints a more accurate picture than a written interview.
Questions About Family History: How Do You Do Oral History?
You may be wondering, if you’re going to interview your parents or grandparents, how do you interview family for family history? The first thing you want to think about is what questions to ask the elderly about their life. Of course, you’ll want to ask the standard questions, like how old they are and where they grew up, but there are other personal and family history questions to ask, such as:
- Did you serve your country?
- What is your medical and genetic history? (very important for yourself and future generations)
- How did you meet the love of your life?
- What was your childhood like?
- Will you share your (favorite) recipe with me?
- How did you celebrate the holidays when you were younger?
- What were your grandparents like? Where were they from?
- What was the most important invention during your lifetime?
- What was your first job?
- Who had the most influence on your life?
The list is really endless when it comes to questions about family history and experiences. When it comes to family tree questions specifically, you may want to draw a family tree outline, drawing in what your interviewee remembers and what you are able to.
Questions About Family History: Why Is Medical History So Important?
When it comes to what are some questions to ask your family, medical history is perhaps the most important thing to top the list. This is because your parents (and grandparents) medical history can directly impact yours, if they have had certain conditions (such as colon cancer). For instance, if your parents or grandparents had polyps, colon cancer, or even digestive diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, you should perhaps get your colonoscopy earlier than suggested screening age. This is true for other conditions also, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. When it comes to questions about family history, medical history is very important to know.
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