Interviewing an ancestor…

I have my family history writing group this afternoon, writing about family stories, not researching them! It’s a new term for the group so some members might be unable to come, some new people are definitely coming! Because we haven’t met since July lots of things are likely to have happened, so for this first meeting I’ll start with a review and a round-up of news, mine and the group’s, and then after tea and biscuits (we are fulled by tea and biscuits!) we will share what we have written from last time. It maybe that people haven’t written anything, so plan B will be for me to hand out some autobiographies and biographies and we’ll read passages from them… the y won’t want me wittering on for a whole two hours!

The task I am going to set them for next time, for the October meeting, is to imagine interviewing a family member who they have become interested in during their research. Some of the interview questions are very straight forward, some of them will require them to use their imaginations! The point of the exercise is to try and be creative!

This is the plan:

Here are some suggested questions – you can change them, add more – or miss some out, or have different questions. You can make up the answers if you don’t know them – it’s giving a flavour and colour to the story of your family!

  • Name of family member:
  • Relationship to you:
  • Context, if necessary:
  • When were you born, and whereabouts was that?
  • Who were your parents and what sort of people were they?
  • Were your grandparents still alive when you were a child? Do you remember them and what their names were?
  • What was the place like where you lived? Did you always live in the same place?
  • What occupations did your parents have?
  • Did you have any brothers and sisters? Were they older or younger than you?
  • What work did you do? Did your work involve you travelling?
  • Did you marry and have children?
  • Do you know your wife/husband’s family? What sort of people were your in-laws?
  • Do you have any special memories of important events?

I am going to do a demonstration with me asking the questions of my husband and him pretending to be his own grandfather – just to show that it needn’t be a daunting exercise, and might be quite fun. I hope it will be useful for the group, and it might suggest a way forward in writing creatively about their family.



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