Do Your Interview Questions Suggest Answers?

When asking relatives questions, try and avoid planting ideas in the mind of the person who is answering your questions. You want the interviewee to remember as much as THEY can. Suggesting answers might cause them to “agree” with you when they shouldn’t.

Of course, ask for clarification if necessary. Asking if you heard correctly is different that suggesting an answer in the first place.

How Was Life the Same?

Yesterday’s tip was “how was life different” for your ancestor? Today think about what aspects of your ancestor’s life were the same. There has to be something. Think about what motivates you, what tasks you have to perform every day, every week, etc.

Which ones did your ancestor have to perform as well?

Any clues in those tasks? Any clues in those motivations? In some ways we aren’t all that different from our ancestors.

How Was Life Different?

If you’re stuck on an ancestor, make a list of ten ways your ancestor’s life was different from yours. These ways can include lifestyle, educational level, ethnic background, native language, physical environment, what they ate for supper, etc.

It just might get you thinking.

In and Out

If your ancestor owned property (whether it was a small lot or a large acreage), determine how it came into and left his possession. Either document could provide vital clues. But both ends of the transaction are important.

Learn Something New Everyday

Try a new genealogy website, read a how-to article from a journal, work on a family you’ve never worked on before.

Keep your genealogy mind engaged. Get off the cycle of searching for the same names in the same places in the very same ways.

Getting outside your comfort zone may help you break that brick wall.

Double Check

Catalogers make mistakes when going through materials. Consequently what appears as the description in the card catalog for an item can be incomplete or wrong. Items get missed when being microfilmed or digitized. Look at page numbers and dates of entries, could some be missing?

It may be necessary to go back and view the original.

A Hidden Spouse?

I’m not talking about one hiding in the basement.

Instead does a man have a first and a second wife both named Mary? Does a woman marry a man who has the same last name as her maiden name (that’s happened more than you think)? Was there a first, short-lived, marriage because a spouse died young?

Just something to think about.