17 November 2010

Thanksgiving interviews

Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving and all the holidays that follow in the next several weeks? Don't forget to prepare some oral history questions to ask the relatives. I have some questions to ask the women in your family. Pick two or three to ask during dinner.

To add more to the flavor of the women in your family history, ask some emotion producing questions. Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and cousins can add much to the family memories. Do it before these strong women are gone from this life. I wish I had asked my Grandma Gert what it was like to be 21 when women earned the right to vote in 1922. I would have had asked her mother, Nana, for details on growing up without a mother and why did they leave Canada. (She undoubtedly would have detailed all the relatives they used to visit in Montreal and Rawdon.) Some suggested areas of questions:
  • What was it like to raise a family of 9 without electricity? (Or without inside plumbing, or something else)
  • What was it like to vote for the first time (those alive when women got the right to vote)
  • What was it like to make the decision to leave your home country and come to the U.S., Canada, England, or _____
  • What was it like to walk the picket line during the ___ strike?
  • What were the family dinners like as you were growing up?
  • How did your brothers react when you went on your first date? When you announced your engagement?
  • Would you like to tell me about your reaction when Uncle Bill was killed during the Korean War?
  • How did your father react when you told him you wanted to go to college in 1925?
  • Was it tough being the child of a woman who worked full-time to support her family in 1945?
  • What was it like to be divorced in the 1950s and raising children alone?
  • What did it feel like when I handed you the copy of the 1880 or 1900 census with the listing for your grandparents and their six children? Or the 1930 census with you as a little girl?
  • Who was your female role model – the woman who most influenced you?
  • Tell me about your experience of giving birth to a child in 1955?
Ask the permission to include some of the stories in your 2010 holiday letter, family round-robin e-mail, or family newsletter. These memories might spark additional memories from other family members.


Susan K said...

fabulous questions, Paula!

I'm preparing a Thanksgiving roundup post early in the week, I'll be including this. (I found it via Little Bytes of Life.)

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

I might add this to our NH Mayflower Society newsletter next year. A great idea!