As we grow older, most adults begin to reflect on what their lives have stood for and what history and legacy they will leave behind. For all of us, there is an innate desire to feel as if we have made a difference in the world. For older adults, feeling confident that younger generations are aware of their heritage is also important.
Taking time to document your family’s shared story can give everyone an opportunity to learn and bond across generations. You can have family members ask the senior questions and capture the interaction on video to preserve for future generations. Or you can work together to create a written version of your family’s history.
Capturing Family History across Generations
We pulled together a list of questions families can ask and answer together. While some family members might know the answers to a few of these questions, other answers might surprise everyone.
It may help to start with the elder’s childhood and work forward to present day.
Questions to Document Childhood Memories
- What city or town were you born in and what year?
- How many siblings did you have?
- What were your parents like?
- Do you know how your father proposed to your mother?
- What did your father do for a living?
- Did your mother work outside the home?
- Where did you live as a child?
- What school did you attend? Did you have a favorite teacher?
- How far did you have to walk to school?
- Did you have a favorite pet growing up?
- What was the worst trouble you ever got in to? How were you punished?
- Did you have responsibilities around the house? Did you receive an allowance for them? How much was it?
- How did your family celebrate the holidays? Do you remember what your favorite gift from childhood was?
- Was your mother a good cook? What were your favorite recipes?
- Did your family take vacations together? Where did you go?
Document the Seniors Coming Of Age
- Do you remember your first date? Who was it with and where did you go?
- Did you have a car when you were in school? Do you remember how much gas cost?
- Did you go to college or a trade school?
- Did your family have a television? What were your favorite shows?
- Did you like to dance? What music did you dance to?
- Where and how did you meet your spouse?
- Did you have a big wedding? Where was it?
- Where did you live when you first got married?
The Legacies from Adulthood
- What is the best advice you ever received? Who was it from?
- Do you have any regrets or things you wish you could do over?
- Do you have any advice or life lessons you want younger generations of the family to hear?
- How has the world changed from the time you were a child?
- How do you want to be remembered by future generations?
We hope this gives you a good starting point for capturing your family history together!