Exploring Family History: 20 Questions to Ask Your Grandparents

Grandfather & granddaughter holiday time
December 4th, 2023

The passing of our older relatives signifies the departure of our living history. To preserve the richness of their experiences and deepen our connection with them, engaging in heartfelt conversations about their lives becomes essential. Most grandparents are delighted to share their stories, providing a valuable opportunity for bonding and gaining insights into both your family’s history and your own identity.

Here are 20 questions to help you get started:

Where were you born?

Uncover the roots of your family and, if applicable, learn about any regional accents that may have influenced your grandparents.

Did you receive an allowance?

Explore the differences in upbringing by understanding whether they earned allowances through chores or if it was a practice in their time.

Did you ever get in trouble as a child or teenager?

Delve into their mischievous adventures, realizing that what might be considered trouble today could be vastly different from their experiences.

What is the most important lesson your parents taught you?

Discover timeless life lessons that transcend generations, emphasizing values like goodness, decency, and kindness.

What did your friends do for fun when you were young?

Explore the recreational activities of their era, which may include simpler joys like movies, horseback riding, crafts, or swimming in a lake.

How did you meet Grandma/Grandpa?

Allow them to recount the romance of their early years, a time when connecting meant more than just a click of a mouse.

Did you take a honeymoon?

Understand the circumstances of their early days together, whether they had a grand getaway or a simple weekend due to work obligations.

Where was your wedding?

Challenge assumptions by learning that not all weddings were grand church ceremonies; some took place at home, in community halls, or even outdoors.

Did you go to college?

Explore the educational opportunities available to them, recognizing that college wasn’t always a given and some embarked on different paths.

What was your first job?

Gain insight into their early responsibilities, as many older generations started working at a young age, contributing to family businesses or working on farms.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Explore the dreams they had as youngsters and whether those aspirations became a reality or evolved with the demands of family life.

Where have you lived?

Open doors to geographical roots and potentially discover places that hold significance in your family history.

Where have you traveled?

Create a travel wish list inspired by their experiences, understanding the world through their eyes.

What were your parents/grandparents like?

Transport yourself to a different era as they share tales of their youth, providing a unique perspective on life during their time.

Tell me about the day when my mom/dad was born?

Relive the joyous occasions of family additions, whether they occurred in a hospital or on the family farm, showcasing the evolution of birthing practices.

Will you teach me how to make your…

Preserve family traditions by learning cherished recipes from your grandparents, ensuring these culinary delights are passed down through generations.

Did you have any pets?

Explore the role of animals in their lives, whether they were cherished companions or had specific duties around the home.

Did our ancestors speak any language different from ours?

Uncover linguistic roots by asking about languages spoken by previous generations, especially if there are hints of a distinctive accent.

What was your favorite music?

Discover musical preferences that may differ from your own, offering a glimpse into the soundtrack of their lives.

Do you have any pictures we can look at?

Delve into visual storytelling by perusing old photo albums, sparking additional questions and deepening your connection through shared memories.

As you embark on this journey of discovery with your parents, grandparents, and older loved ones, remember that each question unveils a chapter of your family’s unique story. Cherish these moments, embrace the wisdom they share, and continue weaving the threads of your family history for generations to come. Happy conversing!