Play detective to trace your family history


Interviewing family members is one of the best ways to research your family tree and trace your family history.Today I want to give you a few tips to help you get the most from each one:

1. Asking the right questions. If you know what you want to get out of the interview ahead of time, everything will run much smoother. So write down a list of questions before you go. It’s important however to be flexible and let your relative lead the conversation where he or she wants it to go. When they are able to spontaneously remember different family members’ stories, you will learn a lot more.

2. Bring a tape or video recorder to the interview. If you bring something to keep track of the event, it’s much easier than trying to scribble notes throughout the entire interview. It’s always a good idea to ask if recording your interviewee is okay. Video recording is much better, and if they will agree to it I recommend using a video first. That way you create a fuller record of the interview because you can see the expressions on the interviewees’ face as he or she talks. You also have a valuable lasting record of the interview that can be seen and understood by generations to come.

3. Use visual aids to help them recall events. Photos and other pieces of information can sometimes help a person jog their memory of a particular story or event. If there’s a lull in the conversation, producing a photo album is an excellent way to reestablish the flow. Since our technology today allows you to scan photos and everything else, you can print off a bunch of copies and keep the originals safe.

4. Respect the feelings of the individual you interview If you notice your interviewee is trying to withhold information on a particular event, don’t push the issue. Sometimes people find that they are not in the right frame of mind to talk about the past, or they may want to stop and consider before revealing certain pieces of information. If this occurs you can always arrange another interview for another time or ask another relative the same question.Causing an ill feeling is not the point to this project.

5. Be grateful.-5. Make sure you show gratitude. Be courteous and thank them for having you. If they enjoy your discoveries, let them know you will keep them informed of your family history research. A great way to keep relatives up to date is to create your family tree online and allow your family members access to your family tree. A great website for building your family tree and tracing your family history for free is This gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with your family members and invite them to help you branch out your family tree. They can also upload photos, add documents, or even give a little input to help further some of the stories.

So if you ever though history was as boring as can be, when you trace your family history you might change your mind.