QUESTIONS for GRANDPARENTS
But first, a few tips :
These are a few suggested questions that all Family Historians
should ask their grandparents, if they have the chance. I say
'suggested' .. some may not be appropriate or applicable. You
don't have to ask all of them, or all at the same time. This
is a sort of ideas, or crib sheet.
A list like this may be best tackled in several sessions.
Remember, whilst general information about how they
lived is fascinating, you'll need as many full names and dates
as you can to have any hope of building a proper tree. And of
course, places too. And try to get middle names or initials ..
they can often be the decider when you're later faced with a
list of 3 people of the same name to choose from.
Be patient ... you won't get all the answers in one
go. Some grandparents will be reluctant to answer much, a lot
depending on what their childhood was like and whether the
memories are good or bad.
Be compassionate .. some answers will throw up yet
more questions, and ones to which you may never get answers.
Get the main details, dates, etc, so that you can do a basic
'tree'. If you intend later to write your family's history,
then more detail will be necessary.
Every family has a story ... and some parts of that
story may not be for our ears. The older generation still
largely feel that the old proverb, 'Let Sleeping Dogs Lie'
still holds good. Don't push your luck.
Time works wonders ... and a few weeks after being
asked the original questions, with time to consider the matter
more deeply, some grandparents may well come back to you with
answers that they feel you should know after all.
Family History can be a minefield ... be careful not to step
With those points in mind, go for it !
What year were you born ... and of course, the date.
(Of course, all children know their grandad and grandma's
birthday .... don't they?)
Where were you born .. in hospital, or perhaps at home ?
What are the three words that best describe your overall life?
What was the happiest time of your life?
What was the hardest part of your life?
Who influenced you the most in your life?
Now, let's go back to your childhood.
Tell me, how many brothers and sisters do you have, and where
do you fall in the order?
What were the names of your brothers and sisters?
Who were you closest to?
When you were born, what did your parents do for a living?
Would you say you were poor, comfortable, or well off as a
family at that time?
What was your neighborhood like?
Who were your neighborhood friends?
Would you describe your childhood as a happy time? Why or why
What did you do for fun at the weekend?
Did you and your family take holidays? What did you do?
Where did you go to infants and junior school?
Did you like school?
Did you get good reports?
Did your parents read to you?
What was your favorite childhood book?
What was your best subject in school?
Did your teachers make you feel encouraged?
Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
Did your family move around a lot when you were a child?
Back to your parents; what was your mum like?
Was she affectionate with you?
Did she have any nicknames for you? Or your siblings ?
What do you know about her background? For instance, did you
know your grandparents on both sides ?
What about your Dad?
Were you close to him growing up?
What about his background? Did you know your grandparents on
both sides, any dates, etc ?
What words do you most remember from your mum and dad?
When you were a child, what did you think your adult life
would be like?
Did you dream of a career, or travelling, or having a home, or
anything like that?
What were your senior school years like?
Did you like senior school?
Were you involved in any activities?
Who were your best friends?
How would you describe yourself in your senior school days?
After senior school, did you go straight to work or continue
with more education, college, etc? Where?
What were those years like?
If you did go to college, did you apply yourself?
How did you decide what to study?
What was your college campus like in those days?
What was your favorite course?
How did you choose your career? Or did it choose you?
If you had it to do over again would you choose the same one?
Tell me about your first job.
What was your work philosophy over the years?
Did you enjoy going to work?
What was the highlight of your career?
Now, let's talk about relationships.
Tell me how you met __________ (spouse).
How old were each of you when you met?
Did you date right away or were you friends first?
What attracted you to him / her?
When did you know this was someone you could marry?
Describe how you two became engaged.
Who did you tell first?
How long was your engagement?
Did your parents approve of the marriage?
Where were you married?
Describe your ceremony and reception.
Where did you go for your honeymoon?
How long was your honeymoon?
Where did you two live when you were first married?
Did you each work?
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make to marriage?
Did you feel like you went into marriage prepared?
What advice would you give to someone considering marriage?
How would you advise them to choose a mate?
Did you plan on having children?
How long had you been married when you expected your first
How did you choose his / her name?
Where was he / she born?
Were you there at the birth?
Tell me about the births of all of your children.
How did children change your marriage?
What's the best parenting advice you ever received?
What advice would you give?
What was your discipline philosophy regarding your children?
What was the happiest time of raising your children?
What about the saddest or hardest?
Would you have done anything differently?
Can we talk about your faith, if any ?
What are your beliefs about God?
What role has faith played in your life/?
What role does it play now?
Do you read the Bible?
If so, do you have a favorite verse?
What do you believe happens after we die?
As you look back over your life, what significant world events
do you remember most? (Kennedy assassination, moonwalk,
Vietnam War, September 11)
What other events shaped your life -- the defining moments?
Did you ever go through serious illnesses or injuries?
How did you pull through?
Do you have any hobbies or interests?
What about in the past -- what were some of your hobbies?
Are you artistic or musical?
Do you enjoy the cinema?
What are your three favorite films?
Do you like to read?
What are your three favorite books?
What about politics -- do you vote regularly?
Do you enjoy travel?
Would you have liked to have traveled more?
What was your best travel experience?
If you could live your life over again, what would you do
What would you like future generations to know about you?
Just Close the
Tab, or Window, when you've done ...
your Sutton page should still be open behind.
There is an
extensive list of
to aid with researching
Regimental, Naval and Air Forces
information on your military forebears,
on the OTHER LINKS button in the menu.
It includes a list
"QUESTIONS FOR OLD SOLDIERS",
being a dozen or so suggested questions
should ask their
grandparents about their
time in the Armed Forces.