One Christmas my writer husband gave the girls a gift of their own pasts. He went through his old journals and made copies of the entries describing their births, then stories of them as babies and toddlers; he had written down the adorable things they said; he described sending them off the first day of school. Then he copied photos to go along with some of the entries, making a Megan Book and a Katie Book.
I recently thought of this wonderful present – one the girls both treasure – when a friend from my high school reunion sent an email describing a way to create a “heritage scrapbook” using family interviews with some of the older people in your family.
You don’t have to be a published author to create your own gift of personal family book. Here’s a list of family history questions; you can personalize the interview with your own questions as well.
1. What is your full name?
2. Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname?
3. When and where were you born?
4. How did your family come to live there?
5. Were there other family members in the area? Who?
6. What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones
7. Were there any special things in the house that you remember?
8. What is your earliest childhood memory?
9. What kind of games did you play growing up? What were the toys you played with?
10. What were your favorite movies? Books?
11. Where did your family go for vacations?
12 .Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?
13. How did you get any spending money? Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?
14. What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High School? College?
15. Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
16. Who were your childhood heroes?
17. What were your favorite songs and music?
18. Did you have any pets?
19. Who were your friends when you were growing up?
20. What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
22. Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
23. How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?
24. Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
25. What do you know about your family surname?
26. What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?
27. Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
28. Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?
29. When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?
30. Where and when did you get married?
31. What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
32. How did you find out you were going to be a parent for the first time?
33. Why did you choose your children’s names?
34. What was your proudest moment as a parent?
35. What did your family enjoy doing together?
36. What was your profession and how did you choose it? If you could have had any other profession what would it have been?
37. Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
38. What are you the most proud of?
39. Is there anything you regret not doing?
40. What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?