If you’re lucky enough to have grandparents who are still alive, you know how important it is to get to know them and document their life stories before they’re gone. This can be difficult, however, if you don’t know where to start or what questions to ask. The following guide will help you successfully interview your grandparent so that you can capture their stories forever in the form of a recording or written record. In addition, you can use these tips on interviewing a grandparent or other family members.
To start, you’ll want to brainstorm questions. It can be helpful to break them down into categories, such as childhood and adulthood, or by decade. Interviewing your grandparent may seem simple; after all, it's just a conversation between two people. However, you'll have specific objectives in mind when you're conducting an interview.
You want to get as much information from your interviewee as possible so that you can share their story with others to preserve their legacy. That means you'll need to prepare carefully before interviewing your grandparent.
Here are some sample interview questions:
- How did you meet my grandmother/grandfather? What was he/she like?
- Tell me about your family growing up. Who were they? Where did they live? What did they do for work?
- What was life like during [the time period]? What were some of your favorite things to do back then?
- Tell me about my grandmother/grandfather’s personality. What kind of person was he/she? How did you two meet?
- What is your favorite memory with my grandmother/grandfather?
- Is there anything else that you would like to share with me that I didn't ask you about?
- Do you have any advice for me as I grow up and start my own family someday?
- Anything else that I should know or remember from your experiences growing up in [the time period]?
Recording the Interview
The interview with your grandparent will most likely be recorded either through the Storii phone calls or on your own. Have them read over their answers before you record anything. It’s also important to note that interviews are always easier when they are prepared in advance; create a list of topics that you want to cover and work through it with your grandparent.
And if possible, bring along some photos of family members—the images will help your grandparent remember things more easily. The photo doesn’t even have to be recent—showing old pictures is an excellent way for elders to recall memories of times past and revisit feelings associated with them. Plus, these visual aids can help jog your grandparent's memory when it comes time to write down stories.
As long as you're respectful of their time and make sure they feel comfortable throughout the interview process, interviewing a grandparent can be both fun and fulfilling!
Formatting Your Material
The best way to record your interview is with an audio recording. This will allow you or whoever is listening to the interview, the ability to easily replay sections. Once recorded, transcribe your interview as soon as possible. While you may feel like listening to what was said over and over again, it is important not to fall into the trap of thinking too much about what was said in one sitting—there may be a lot more gold in there than meets the ear at first listen!
Finally, if you’re feeling super creative, take the recordings and play them over a video or pictures. This will make an enjoyable way to look at old photos or videos, and a keepsake many generations can treasure online for years after.
Give the Gift of Stories - Purchase Storii as a Gift Today
If you can’t think of interview questions, Storii can help. When you use Storii, over 200 questions are at your disposal to use and guide your interview. You can capture your grandparent's answers and upload them to their Storii profile using text, photos, videos, and audio recordings. Alternatively, you can sign them up for Life Story calls. Learn more here.