A potential win-win for those who are staying home during this coronavirus outbreak: Your older relatives have an abundance of stories and information about your family. I recommend giving them a call — starting with the oldest — and getting them talking about their childhoods, their parents and grandparents. Just Google “questions to ask your older relatives,” and a host of sites will pop up.
Information that they can give you about names, dates and places in 5 minutes could potentially take you 5 years to find on your own. Just as history repeats itself, family history also repeats — good things and bad. For instance, there may be mental-health issues, alcoholism or other medical issues in the family (save these questions for the end). But also they know about what people did for a living, what talents and strengths they had — what they learned about how to get through really tough times.
Start with easy questions, listen for when they may need to stop and pick up at another time. Record them if possible. Find out who has the family photos and records, and if they know of any relatives in other countries.
Maggie Fimia, Edmonds