Take a peek into the history of a loved one by asking questions about what life was like for them in their generation. From rumble seats to rotary phones, daily life for older adults was different in so many ways compared to life today. This ever changing world will never rewind to yesteryear, what better way to preserve it’s memory than by beginning a meaningful conversation with an elderly person you love. Asking questions, listening to stories and receiving words of wisdom allows your loved one to pass down their unmeasurable legacy for you and generations yet to come.
Below are topics and question ideas to help you learn more about your loved one’s history. Even if you already know the answers to some of the questions, you can take the opportunity to record the information for future reference. Most of all, enjoy the time spent together as your loved one reminisces the past.
What is your full name (and maiden name if female)?
Were you named after another family member?
- Do you know why your parents chose your first and middle name?
Did you have a nick-name growing up?
- When and where were you born?
Have you traveled outside of that area?
- What was your favorite place to live in or visit?
- What was your first telephone like?
- Did it have a rotary dial?
- What is a party line and did you use it?
- What are telephone numbers with exchange?
- How often did you find it necessary to use a phone booth?
- Did you hand write letters to your friends or family members and send them through mail?
- Do you remember the approximate cost of a stamp?
- Do you remember rumble seats?
- Did people really crank a car to start it?
- What was your family vehicle like?
- Around what age did you or your family get your first TV?
- What did it look like?
- Was it in color or black and white?
- Did your friends have a TV?
- Did you like school?
- What was your highest level of education?
- Did you get good grades?
- What did you do after school?
The Great Depression
- What do you remember about the Great Depression?
- In what ways did it effect you and your family?
Babies and Children
- Did you use cloth diapers?
- What were diaper services like?
- What are some differences in raising a child today compared to back then?
- Do you have any memories with your children that stand out?
- What was it like to have a milkman deliver milk to your door?
- Did you/your parents have a refrigerator?
- Did you have anything else delivered such as eggs, butter, yogurt or ice?
- Did you know your mail man?
- Do you know any jokes? Can you tell me one?
- Do you have any funny memories as a child/teen/young adult?
- Did you have a prankster in your family?
- What kind of games did you play growing up?
- Did you ever make any type of art?
- What was your favorite past time?
- What is your favorite past time now?
- What is one of your all time favorite movies?
- Did you work outside of the home? If so, can you tell me about your job(s)?
- What did your parents do for work?
Fashion and Trends
- Do you remember any fashion fads from when you were young?
- Did you ever learn the jitterbug?
- What were other popular dances when you were young?
- Did you consider yourself a good dancer?
- Did you have a favorite singer or band growing up or as a young adult?
- Was there anyone famous you admired growing up?
- Did you ever attend church?
- Did you have a specific religion?
- Were your parents religious?
- Have your religious beliefs changes over time?
- Did you serve in the military? If so, what do you remember most about that time?
- Was your spouse or other loved one in the military?
- What do you remember about the draft?
- Were you or anyone you knew drafted?
- What was a typical wedding like in your generation?
- Do you have any vivid memories from your wedding?
- Did you have groomsmen/bridesmaids?
- What advice do you have regarding marriage?
- How would you describe your parents?
- Did you get to meet your grandparents or great-grandparents?
- What do you remember about them?
- Which family member do you think I most resemble and why?
- Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
- What is most important in life?
- What should I not worry about?
- What took you a long time to learn?
- Do you have any advice for me?