Saturday, 27 April 2013

Questions to ask...?

When we begin researching our family history one thing we must do is talk to older relatives, they will have snippets of information that will really help you in the process of researching your family tree.

If you are just starting out it can be overwhelming to go and see and elderly relative you may not have seen for many years to ask questions about their family, so below are a few questions you can ask to get the conversation rolling.

Questions to ask?
  • What were the names of your parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles?
  • When were people born?
  • Where were people born?
  • Where did people live?
  • What jobs did they do?
  • Was "Polly" their real name or a nickname?
  • What were they like?
  • What did they enjoy doing?
  • What did they look like?
  • Do they have any old photos you can scan or take a photo of?
  • Was there a family bible?
  • Did they fight in the world wars? If not was there a reason they were exempt?

Great, Great, Great Uncle Ted with a work mate

You may find people are happy to talk about their family and come out with facts you would never have thought to ask, but other people may find their family background painful and not as willing to talk about it. Remember to be sensitive as you are talking about ancestors as older relatives will remember them and may even still be grieving for them. There can be facts in which you find interesting but to another relative they can be shameful, especially if great uncle Albert was a bigamist or spent time in jail.

Always take notes as you are chatting or even take something in which you can record the conversation to listen to at a later date. It is amazing what you forget afterwards or may get facts mixed up later on. Verbal facts will later need to be verified with records, do not take your relatives memories as fact until you have found records to back up your evidence.

My great, great grandparents
Edward Davidson & Martha Davidson nee Hair
Looking at old photos with elderly relatives can trigger memories and can help you put faces to names for future generations.

Important facts which you will require about each person are:
  • Name
  • Birthday
  • Year of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Date of marriage
  • Place of marriage
  • Date of death
  • Buried or cremated? If buried, where?
  • Occupation

TOP TIP: Do not delay speaking to relatives, as time goes by facts are forgotten, elderly people can develop dementia or even pass away unexpectedly which can leave a wealth of information lost for future generations.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

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