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Screen-Shot-2015-11-18-at-11.20.42-AM.140637The holiday time frame is a perfect time to capture the legacy of your parents, grand parents and other beloved family members. Below is a list of potential questions to ask your parents and grand parents. Jim Rohn taught me, “If life is worth living, it is worth recording.” You can of course do this at any time and Thanksgiving gives many families a rare chance to be together. This list is a conglomeration from many sources and is big! You do not of course have to ask all these questions. They simply serve to be a guide.


I used them to interview my Dad four years ago. I wish I had done it earlier BEFORE he was quite sick going through chemo for lung cancer. I did do it with my mom (pictured above) when she was in great health. The recordings came out very well and we are glad we have them. It would be amazing if I had these recordings from my grandparents! I only have one from my Grandmother made in the early 1990’s when she was in her prime! She really loved to watch it too since she had never seen herself on TV.

It is important to tell them “WHY” you want to do this and record it. Some will be shyer than others. Explain because you want to capture your legacy for future generations, you would like to record it. Use a tri-pod and put it aside, do not hold on to your camera. An external mic is a good idea if you have one. A good way to start and get them warmed up is to review a family photo album and review pictures and ask them to tell you stories. You will not ask all 99 of course. Ask the ones you think are most interesting.
1. What is your full name and why were you named that? Did you have a nickname growing up?
2. What were the full names, dates of birth and places of birth of your parents and grandparents?
3. What were the occupations of your parents?
4. What do you remember most about your mother?
5. What do you remember most about your father?
6. What do you remember most about your grandparents?
7. Are there any other family members you particularly remember?What makes them stand out in your mind?
8. Where were you born? Were you born in a hospital, at home or elsewhere?
9. How many children were in your family? What are there full names?
10. What are the earliest memories about your first home? What about other homes and places you lived?
11. What do you remember most about your childhood?
12. Where did you grow up? What was your neighborhood like?
13. Could you tell me a story or a special memory about your brothers and sisters?
14. What was your favorite pet when you were a child?
15. What did you family do for fun when you were a kid?
16. What were your favorite toys as a kid? What games did you play?
17. What kind of chores did you do as a kid? Did you get an allowance?
18. What kind of books did you like to read?
19. When you were young, did you ever collect anything?
20. Where did you go to grammar school, high school, and college or trade/
technical school?
21. Who was your best friend as a child?
22. Who was your best friend in high school?
23. Did you work during high school, what was your first job?
24. How many jobs have you had?
25. How did you decide on a career?
26. Did you and your friends have a special place to hangout? Tell me about that. 27. How would people who knew
you in high school describe you?
28. Were there any subjects or teachers you particularly liked or disliked? Why? 29. Were you involved in any school
sports or clubs? Did you receive any specialawards?
30. What did you wear to school?
31. What did you want to be when you grew up?
32. What did you do after high school?
33. What was your first job? How much money did you make?
34. What was your first car? What did you pay for it? How did you pay for it? 35. Who was your first date?
36. How many times have you been in love?
37. How did you meet my mom/dad? Tell us about that?
38. How long did you date? What was that like?
39. What was your proposal like?
40. Where was your wedding? How many people attended? Tell me about the ceremony.
41. Did you have a honeymoon? What did you do?
42. How long did you give or would you give to your kids when they go married? 43. How many children di you have
all together?
44. What are their names, birth dates and birthplaces?
45. Why did you name them what you did?
46. Are they any funny or unusual things about your children did that stands out? 47. What was most rewarding
about being a parent?
48. Where you strict or lenient as a parent?
49. Have you been married more than once?
50. When and where did your parents die? What do you remember about that? How did they die?
51. Do you remember your grandparents describe their lives? What did they say? 52. Did you have any child hood
53. Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
54. Have you been in a serious accident?
55. Has anyone every saved your life?
56. What family trip do you remember most?
57. What is the funniest family story you remember?
58. Did you ever do anything naughty/mischievous?
59. Did you served in the Armed Forces? What branch? When? Where? What rank? 60. Did you ever fight in a war-time
battle? Where?
61. What is your favorite book, movie and song?
62. What would you thing are the great inventions in your lifetime?
63. Do you remember the first time you saw a television, car, plane, and refrigerator?
64. Do you remember your family discussing world events and politics?
65. How would you describe yourself politically?
66. How did you react to events like the assassination of President Kennedy, WWII
starting/ending, Pearl Harbor bombing…other big events?
67. How did the Vietnam War affect you?
68. Who are your closest friends to this day? Who is your oldest friend?
69. What were the hardest choices you ever had to make?
70. Was there an event that really changed the course of your life?
71. Was there a person who really impacted the course of your life?
72. What was the most stressful experience you every lived through?
73. What was the scariest thing that every happened to you?
74. What kind of musical instruments have you learned to play?
75. What was the funniest practical joke you every played on someone?
76. What activities have you really enjoyed as an adult?
77. What are your hobbies?
78. What are some amazing things that have happened to you?
79. Have you met any famous people?
80. Who were your parents?
81. Who were your grandparents?
82. Where are they from?
83. What organizations or groups have you been a member of?
84. Have you won any special awards or prizes as an adult? What were they for? 85. What is the most beautiful place
you have ever visited and what was it like? 86. What is the longest trip that you have every gone on? Where did you
87. What states have you visited? What countries have you visited?
88. What was the favorite place you have ever visited and what was it like? 89. What pets have you had? Tell me
about them.
90. Is there anything you have always wanted to do but haven’t?
91. Have you ever been to a world’s fair?
92. What or who is your favorite:
Animal? Artist? Athlete? Author? Board game?
Card game?
Flavor of ice cream? Flower?
Movie star?
Musical group? Musical instrument? Painting? Restaurant? Season?
93. What is the single most memorable moment of your life?
94. What you most thankful for…most proud of…
95. Do you have any photos, movies, videos or audio recordings of older family
96. What are your favorite family recipes? How do we get them?
97. What is something you in your life you are very proud of that no one knows you did?
98. What can you tell us about our family tree we do not know?
99. Finally I would ask what could some difficult questions. Often when someone passes away it is a nightmare to put your hands on all the important documents – their will, current bills, insurance policies, proof of ownership of key assets, investment statements, current bills, bank accounts, on line and computer passwords for starters.
It is important to know all of this so it is possible to handle everything easily and cancel accounts and automatic payments that may have been set up. What about any hidden treasured belongings?
There is a company launching shortly to help protect your companies legacy – Legacy Harbor. Check it out.
These two articles will really help you:
Some questions may be more difficult to ask.

Here is a link to an excellent article – 12 Tough Questions To Ask Your Parents

Here is another link to an essential article – Wall Street Journal – The 25 Documents You Need Before You Die

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One Comment

  1. 8-31-2018

    Exactly right: “It is important to tell them “WHY” you want to do this and record it.”

    At A Life Untold we actually have a similar question and answer process to holistically capture anyone’s life story – but instead of a video, we turn it into a printed book. You can see how we do it here: https://www.alifeuntold.com

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