Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday Search: A Basic List Of Questions


There are many aspects and important factors to remember when researching your family but the most important thing to remember is probably the simplest one… always ask questions. Some are to be directed to certain people while others are After all, this process is about finding answers so it is only natural that we start this process with a list of questions. Surprisingly, many lose sight of this essential aspect to the process and overlook both some of the questions that need to be answered as well as to whom those questions should be addressed.

What I have found in my numerous conversations with genealogists across all experience levels is that there are many basic questions that we assume and never directly ask either ourselves or others. With that in mind, I decided to take a few minutes and create an essential form to reference throughout the research process. These questions are designed so that we can ask ourselves in reference to distant family members as well as something that we can sit down and ask ourselves or others in our family.

  • What is your full name?
  • Nickname? Why?
  • Where and when were you born?
  • What is your father’s name? Where and when was he born? Where and when did he pass away?
  • What was your father’s personality? What were his interests? What was his occupation?
  • What is your mother’s maiden name? Where and when was she born? Where and when did she pass away?
  • What was your mother’s personality? What were her interests? What was her occupation?
  • Earliest memory of your parents?
  • Most prominent memory/memories about your parents?
  • What did you talk to your parents about the most when growing up? Older?
  • What was your grandmother’s maiden name? Where and when was she born? Where and when did she pass away?
  • What is your grandmother’s personality? What were her interests? What was her occupation?
  • What is your grandfather’s name? Where and when was he born? Where and when did he pass away?
  • What was your grandfather’s personality? What were his interests? What was his occupation?
  • Most prominent memory/memories about your grandparents?
  • What did you talk to your grandparents about the most when growing up? Older?
  • Can you provide details of any additional generations of your family?
  • Who are the other family members that played a prominent role in your life?
  • Who were you named after?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What do you remember most about the town where you grew up?
  • What is your religion? What do you remember about your faith during your youth?
  • Did you have pets growing up?
  • Name/location of high school? College?
  • Interests, major, sports, activities while in school?
  • What books/movies do you remember?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • Who were your heroes? Inspirations? Motivators?
  • Did you travel anywhere growing up? Where? When? Memories?
  • What family stories/legends do you remember being told? From whom did you hear these stories?
  • First job? Second Job?
  • Did you serve in the military? Branch? Occupation? Years?
  • Where/when did you meeting your husband/wife?
  • When/where did you get married?
  • Name of your spouse?
  • Children?
  • What are your interests/hobbies/affiliations as an adult?
  • What questions, if any, do you have about your family history?
  • Have you ever researched your family history?
  • Have you ever discussed your family history with other family members?
  • Do you have any photos of the people/events/places previously mentioned?
  • Do you have any other family photos that you would like to share?
  • Do you have any family documents (birth, marriage, death, naturalization, citations, certificates, etc.)?
  • Do you have any items that have been passed down in the family?
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it should be a good start when really putting together complete profiles of the current and past generations of your family. Obviously, the ideal situation would be that someone would answer these questions for themselves but one can also apply these questions (obviously not all of them) to ancestors across the centuries. You may be surprised at how much information you have, how the pieces fit together, and how motivating some of these basic questions can be to try and find these answers. However, as I have said before, don’t put forth all of this effort without going through the process yourself. Make sure you have your answers and you are represented in your own family history.