10 November 2006

Storybooking Grandparents

In a couple weeks I will be going back home to CA where I grew up for a visit. One of my main goals while I am there is to interview my husbands grandmother.

Never put this off! You never know when it'll be to late to records their stories and life. I have no grandparents left, and my husband only has the one. So I will start with her, but then I will quickly interview our parents. I want their stories preserved for my children. There is nothing I can do about the ancestors before us. All I can do is ask for the stories and photos that all the family members have of them, but their life as they knew it is lost.

When interviewing a parent, grandparent, or, if you're lucky, a great grandparent, start by creating a timeline of their life. I posted how to do a timeline before. Cindy's List here has a few great software programs that will help you create a time line or you can use my example here. This will tell you what major world events they would have experienced in their life time.

Then create a series of questions that ask them about each decade of their life. Make sure to cover each major event during their life such as the Depression, WWII, Assassination of Kennedy, Korean War, Vietnam, etc. If they served in any of the wars ask them to share their experience. Don't forget their childhood such as the places their family lived, schools they attended, their toys, entertainment, and talk to them about their parents and siblings. Their parents may not be alive for you to interview and get a first hand account, but what you can get through your grandparents interview about their parents will be more than you will uncover just researching them.

Interviews can be useful in research so that you know where to look for another piece of the puzzle, but the real treasure is in the stories and photos. But don't just gather all of this information, publish their story for you family. There will be no book more precious to your children then those written about their grandparents, parents, and even themselves.

So get started with your interviews and gathering photo. Then outline the stories you want to write. When you're ready to write your story go here to begin writhing and publish your stories.


Apple said...

Using a timeline is a great tip!

Jasia said...

Just wanted to let you know that your article appeared in the latest edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

Thanks for sharing!