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Writing a Personal History or Family History

A guide to conduction a personal history interview

Knowing where you came from and what your family’s story is an invaluable treasure. If you make a point of recording and writing down you family story it is something that can be cherished for generations. These questions focus on the younger and formative years. These questions also make excellent guide to conduct a interview with a parent, grandparent or anyone else.

50 Childhood based question to write a family history or conduct personal history interview

What was the city/town you grew up in like?    
Describe your childhood home in detail.
Did you have your own room or did you have to share a room?
Did you ever live with out electricity, running water or a telephone?
How was your house heated?
Who where your neighbors when you where growing up? 
Who was your best friend growing up?
What games did and your friends play?
Did you ever play an pranks on your family or neighbors?
Did you have a friend that your parents disapproved of?
What was your favorite book growing up?
Did you ever live with one of your relatives who was not you parents?
What were the big social events in the town you grew up in?
What crimes did you see in the town you grew up in?
Was there ever scandal in the town you grew up in?
Did your family have to move houses? Why?
What was the first radio show you heard?
What Radio shows did you like to listen to?
What was the first TV show you saw?
What was the first TV show you saw in color?
Did you have a refrigerator? Icebox?
Did you raise any of your own food from a vegetable garden or fruit trees?
Did you raise any animals for food?
Did you do any home canning of fruits or vegetables?
What kinds of chores did you have as a child?
Did you help earn money to support your family?
What did you do to earn pocket money as a child?
What was your first pet?
What was your favorite toy?
What was your favorite thing to do as a child?
What was  a typical day like?
 Describe a typical Sunday.
What was Christmas morning like? What was a typical gift?
How did you celebrate birthdays?
What was your favorite gift that you received?  What was it for?
What was the best gift that you have ever given anyone?
How did you celebrate July 4th?
How did you celebrate Thanksgiving?
What is your favorite holiday memory?
When did you first drive a car?
How much did gasoline cost when you started to drive?
Where did you buy gasoline?
What was the car you learned to drive in?
    Describe the cars the family owned?
What was the first movie you remember going to see? How much was admission?
What was you favorite movie?
Who were your favorite actors, actresses?
Who was you favorite musician? How did you listen to music?
Did you ever learn how to play a musical interment?
Did you ever attend a play or the theater?
What was the first professional sporting event you went to? Who did you go with?
Did your family go on vacations?
When was the first time you were away from home?
What did you get caught doing after you were told not to do it?
What cemeteries did your family visit and who was buried there?
What church did your family attend? What is different about church today?
How did you get to your church?
What churches did you visit for marriages, funerals, baptisms, etc.?
Do you remember any hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, or floods?
What were some memorable moments with your parents?
What were the best times spent with your grandparents?
Do you have any special memories of other relatives?
Did you attend family reunions? Who would attend? Are the reunions still being held?
What is your first memory as a child?
What is your favorite memory as a child?
Are there any funny family stories?
When you where a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What did you do during your childhood summers?
What summer camps did you go to as a child?
Where did your family like to get your news?

These questions are not designed to be a check list they are designed as a starting point for a conversation. Please ask and answer what ever follow up questions come to mind. Remember that some questions may be awkward to ask or answer but if you do not get that information it may be lost forever.

You may also want to look at these other Personal/Family History pages:

General Information
Growing Up
Dating and Marriage
Work and Finances

Asking the right questions is more important than knowing the answer.                    home

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