Jessica (moovelvet) wrote in writing_prompts,

A personal project

I'm not sure where else to post this, its a little off topic, but since we're all interested in writing here, I think you might be able to help. And I apologize if you see it more than once as it will be cross posted to quite a few places.

I have three living Grandparents; two Grandmothers and a Grandfather. Now that I'm 22 and leaving for England for 5 months I've come to the realization that they might not be around when I return. This is a frightening thought for me and I'd like to interview them, kind of, I guess that's what I'm calling it. I dont know where to start, or what questions to ask. My mom's parents grew up in rural areas, and are dairy farmers, so I can ask about that and what their lives were like as small children and how it was to raise 10 kids and what it was like to be a part of REALLY big families and such. And about the depression of course. My Grandmother on my father's side owned 4 bars in her lifetime and has lived in cities as well as rural areas, and she was born out of wedlock, which 81 years ago would have meant hell. So I'm thinking of asking her about growing up and about the bar scene. But I also want to know about relationships and politics and what mattered back then and how its changed and what they think. So... what kinds of questions does a person ask? Also, any other topics anyone can think of that might be interesting to query the older folk about?

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Well, you have kinda answered you own question a little bit ^_^ If you know some general facts about the course/direction each of their lives took, you can use that as the skeleton for your interview and flesh it out a little. I too, debated interviewing my Great-Uncle, he did all sorts of cool things, starting a missionary in india, knew Mother Teresa, etc. Unfortunatly...he died this Jan, so, I never got the chance to talk to him about, I only saw him periodically at family events, but I was closer to him than I realized when he died. :-/
I'm sorry you didnt get to talk to him. I just feel like time is running out, I dunno... I just gotta get it all down, so much gets lost
I happened across this post as I was following friends of friends of friends of.... :)

I recently did what you're talking about doing. My maternal grandparents just celebrated their 70th anniversary, and as part of my present to them, I interviewed them using a little digital voice recorder. I knew some sketchy details of their lives together (they've known each other for 76 years), and my mother and I steered them into talking about how they met and what kind of stuff they did, and what it was like during WWII...just stuff like that. And I later edited the interviews, added music and pictures they gave me, and made a 20-minute DVD to show at their anniversary party. It was a big hit. :)

I have strongly considered continuing the interviews, just for me. They're full of interesting stories, and a LOT of stuff that even my mother didn't know.

My advice: Have some questions to ask them, but only steer when you HAVE to--let them talk and reminisce and tell stories.

My digital voice recorder was about $70, and worth every cent just for this purpose alone.

To switch topics, about two years ago, I conducted an interview of a man in a local nursing home. He was the "resident of the month," and I asked him questions about his childhood and such. I didn't know him at all, so many of his answers took me in directions I couldn't have guessed. My mother then took the interview and wrote an article for the local paper. Green (that was his actual name) was just "tickled pink." I think it's a great idea to find out what the older generation has to tell us. And I'm 20+ years closer to BEING in that generation than you are, so you should listen to me. :) :)
interesting that you read my post. crazy small world. I know very little about my family, on either side. my paternal grandmother is opening up more and more now that I'm older. I still don't know how to approach my maternal grandparents.
Just do a search for oral history questions - when I put that in Google it came up with a lot of good links