This is some more great tips on how to interview an older relative.
This was written by a friend of mine.
Personal interviews can be one of the most rewarding aspects of family
history research. Many clues to solving family history puzzles can be obtained in
Consider a few preparatory tips for making the interview more successful.
1. Make an appointment, before you go and make sure they know you will be
talking about family. This allows them to be thinking about the family. The
recall process is often slower in the elderly. This will give time for them
to have recalled some things before the interview.
2. Take pictures of family with you. Often times this will spark
3. Take a tape recorder to use, but use it only with their permission.
4. Prepare a list of questions. Open ended questions that require more
than yes or no answers are best. Ask about habits, traits, likes, dislikes of
-How did you, a small town girl from Alabama ever meet and marry a man from
-I heard that Grandaddy had a temper. Do you know of any incidents that
would verify this?
-Did Uncle Mun have any kind of experiences as he preached that were
particularly interesting to you?
-What can you remember that shows what a good sense of humor Papa had. ?
5. Don’t jump from one time period to another. This can be confusing.
Allow memories to flow naturally..., one leading to another.
6. Respect their being unwilling to talk about certain things.
Memories can be an emotional thing and they may be reluctant at first to talk about
them. At a later time, though, they may bring it up of their own accord.
7. If the persons seems to be tiring, end your interview. This can be
physically exhausting as well as emotionally draining for them at times.
8. ALWAYS follow your initial interview with a follow-up visit a few
days later. Often times elderly persons will continue to think about
the interview, remembering things for some time. A follow-up visit can often
yield much more information than the initial visit.