By Ellis Keith
These questions are here to stimulate your thinking when you’re wondering how to start your family tree. When gathering family data, always be kind and considerate and seek to strengthen family ties and support. Doing so will increase other peoples cooperation, make you a more likable and trustworthy person and significantly increase both the quality and quantity of cooperation you get as your build your family tree. If you plan to use a tape recorder or video camera for your visit, be sure to get the permission of the person well ahead of time.
Note: When asking questions, if they don’t know the answer ask them if they could give you an “approximate” or “best guess” answer. Often that will stimulate their thinking – and remembering.
1. What is your nickname, legal name and name by which you prefer to be called?
2. What is your birth date and in what City, State/Province and Country were you born?
3. What is your mother’s maiden name and what name did she go by?
4. Where was your mother born and what is her birth date?
5. What is your father’s full name and what name did he go by?
6. Where was your father born and what is his birth date?
7. What are the names of each of your full siblings?
8. What is the birth date and location for each of your siblings.
9. Who did each of your siblings marry and where and when did that happen?
10. What memories do you have about each of your siblings?
11. What are the full names, birth dates and locations for each of your children?
12, Whom did you marry and what is their birth information?
13. Whom did your children marry?
14. What can you tell me about your mother’s parents and ancestors?
15. What do you know about your father’s parents and ancestors?
16. What do you know about your aunts, uncles and cousins from your mothers family?
17. What do you know about your aunts, uncles and cousins from your fathers family?
18. What can you remember about where these extended family members lived?
19. What can you remember about the births, marriages, deaths or burial places of your mother’s siblings?
20. What can you remember about the births, marriages, deaths or burial places of your father’s siblings?
21. Where are family members buried ?
22. What fond memories do you have about your childhood and life with your parents and siblings?
23. Are you aware of any of the family members on your mother’s side of the family that are involved in genealogy or building their family tree or saving family photos and stories?
24. Are you aware of any of the family members on your father’s side of the family that are involved in genealogy or building their family tree or saving family photos and stories?
25. Are there any of the relatives that you know of that served in any of the major wars?
26. Are there any of the relatives that you know of that immigrated from other countries?
27. Do you know of anyone in the family that has an old family Bible or old family documents?
28. Do you have any old pictures of the family that you’d be willing to show me?
29. What are some of the best memories you have had in your life?
30. If there were one lesson that you’ve learned in your life that you’d like to pass on to your children and grandchildren, what would that be?