Converse and Listen–Do Not Interrogate

It’s fine to have a list of family history questions to ask a relative. But do not remain rigid and insist on asking all the questions on your list. Try and actually listen to what your relative is saying so you can ask follow up questions based on what they say and not insist on asking the next random question on your list. Have a conversation with them about the past.

Instead of asking when they got married, ask them who they remember being at their wedding and where it took place. Instead of asking them when their child was born, ask them who was there for the birth, who visited later, etc. Instead of asking them when they started working, ask them how they got their first job.

Dates are important, but background details tend to get a person’s mind to work out details that the person with whom they are having a conversation never thought to ask.

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