4 Simple Steps to Collect and Preserve Family Stories

6 Simple Steps to Collect and Preserve Family Stories

6 Simple Steps to Collect and Preserve Family Stories

Family stories aren’t just entertaining or great conversation, but they should be shared and preserved to pass down for generations to come. It’s a great idea to interview family members—no matter their age—to later look back and reflect on important moments in their life at that time. This is especially important if you have a family member who is getting older, is not in good health, or who’s memories seem to be fading.

Below, we have 4 simple steps to not only collect these stories, but preserve them to share or look back on whenever you’d like. We’ve also included 100 questions you can ask your family members from kids to family in the military to get these stories started.

The most important thing we can tell you is don’t wait. Memories don’t last forever, but stories do! Here are 4 simple steps to collect and preserve your family stories.

1. Plan a family gathering

Set aside a special time, when people are relaxed and can gather around and really enjoy the stories. Many families like to do this after a family meal or just before bedtime. Ask children to be prepared to listen attentively.

If your family cannot get together in person, you can talk over Skype, FaceTime, or ask them questions over the phone. Because you are not in person, it might be easier to do this several times over the course of a few weeks or months.

 

2. Prepare your family

Tell family members in advance that you’ll be hosting a “story time” this year. Allow them to consider their favorite family memories and the stories they’d love to share. Invite them to collect special pictures and mementos that might spark conversation or that they would want to share.

 

3. Prepare supplies

The most important supply you need is a video recorder or voice recorder. This will allow you to keep these memories for years to come. Make sure to test all equipment thoroughly before starting.

Gather together as many old family photos, albums, shoeboxes, and memorabilia that you can find. These will spark conversations as you ask about the people, places, and events.

Think about stories you would like to tell yourself. Consider stories you would like a family member to tell you again so you can have it recorded.

Prepare your questions in advance. Below are 100 great questions to ask family members of all ages!

 

4. Collect and save

Collect these stories, pictures and mementos, and make sure they are digital and safe on an external hard drive. We can digitize all these items for you.

Along with your favorite pictures and mementos, consider putting them together in one safe place. At Life’s Sweet, we create Family Legacy Books which is a collection of these items in a book that can be given as a gift or be passed down to future generations. We also create slideshows that can include all of these items, including your recorded interviews.

 

That’s it! Just 4 simple steps and you’ll have a wonderful collection of family stories that can be shared and passed down for generations. Contact Life’s Sweet today if you’re interested in us helping you with a Family Legacy Book, Slideshow, or Photo Scanning service.

 

100 Questions to Ask Family Members

Questions For Everyone

  1. What was the happiest moment of your life?
  2. What was the saddest moment of your life?
  3. Who was/is the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him/her?
  4. Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
  5. What lessons did they teach you?
  6. Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  7. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  8. What is your earliest memory?
  9. Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to me?
  10. What are you proudest of in your life?
  11. When in life have you felt most alone?
  12. How has your life been different than what you imagined?
  13. How would you like to be remembered?
  14. Do you have any regrets?

Grandparents

  1. Where did you grow up?
  2. What was your childhood like?
  3. Do you remember any of the stories your relatives used to tell you?
  4. How did you and grandma/grandpa meet?
  5. What was mom/dad like growing up?
  6. Do you remember any songs that you used to sing to her/him? Can you sing them now?
  7. Was she/he well-behaved?
  8. What is the worst thing she/he ever did?
  9. What were your parents like?
  10. What were your grandparents like?
  11. How would you like to be remembered?

Raising Children

  1. When did you first find out that you’d be a parent? How did you feel?
  2. Can you describe the moment when you saw your child for the first time?
  3. How has being a parent changed you?
  4. What are your dreams for your children?
  5. Do you remember when your last child left home for good?
  6. Do you have any favorite stories about your kids?

Parents

  1. Do you remember what was going through your head when you first saw me?
  2. How did you choose my name?
  3. What was I like as a baby? As a young child?
  4. Do you remember any of the songs you used to sing to me? Can you sing them now?
  5. What were my siblings like?
  6. What were the hardest moments you had when I was growing up?
  7. If you could do everything again, would you raise me differently?
  8. What advice would you give me about raising my own kids?
  9. What are your dreams for me?

Growing Up

  1. When and where were you born?
  2. Where did you grow up?
  3. What was it like?
  4. Who were your parents?
  5. What were your parents like?
  6. How was your relationship with your parents?
  7. Did you get into trouble? What was the worst thing you did?
  8. How would you describe yourself as a child? Were you happy?
  9. What is your best memory of childhood? Worst?
  10. Did you have a nickname? How’d you get it?
  11. Who were your best friends? What were they like?
  12. How would you describe a perfect day when you were young?
  13. What did you think your life would be like when you were older?
  14. Do you have any favorite stories from your childhood?

School

  1. Did you enjoy school?
  2. what kind of student were you?
  3. How would your classmates remember you?
  4. Are you still friends with anyone from that time in your life?
  5. What are your best memories of school/college/graduate school? Worst memories?
  6. Was there a teacher who had a particularly strong influence on your life? Why?

Love & Relationships

  1. Do you have a love of your life?
  2. When did you first fall in love?
  3. Can you tell me about your first kiss?
  4. What was your first serious relationship?
  5. Do you believe in love at first sight?
  6. What lessons have you learned from your relationships?

Marriage & Partnerships

  1. How did you meet your husband/wife?
  2. How did you know he/she was “the one”?
  3. How did you propose/get proposed to?
  4. What were the best times? The most difficult times?
  5. What advice do you have for young couples?
  6. Do you have any favorite stories from your marriage?

Working

  1. How did you get into your line of work?
  2. What did you think you were going to do when you grew up?
  3. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  4. What lessons has your work life taught you?
  5. If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?
  6. Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?

Religion

  1. Can you tell me about your most deeply held beliefs/spiritual beliefs?
  2. Have you experienced/witnessed any miracles?
  3. What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
  4. Do you believe in God?
  5. Do you believe in the after-life? What do you think it will be like?
  6. When you meet God, what do you want to say to Him?

Family Heritage

  1. What traditions have been passed down in your family?
  2. Who were your favorite relatives?
  3. Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
  4. What are the classic family stories? Jokes? Songs?

War

  1. Were you in the military?
  2. Did you go to war? What was it like?
  3. How did war change you?
  4. During your service, can you recall times when you were afraid?
  5. What are your strongest memories from your time in the military?
  6. What lessons did you learn from this time in your life?

Friends

  1. What is your first memory of me?
  2. what makes us such good friends?
  3. Where will we be in 10 years? 20 years?
  4. Do you think we’ll ever lose touch with each other?
  5. Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to tell me but haven’t?
  6. How do you think we are the same/different?

Their Own Fairy Tale Book

Love Letters from WW1

Barbara S. lives in Colorado and is a long-term customer of Life’s Sweet. She has done a series of books with us but one that she especially admired are these love letters. Here is an account of her experience in her own words.

“That day has come, the day I move my mother out of her home of 60 plus years to a retirement village where we can oversee her daily needs and care. My father had passed away several years ago and mother misses him as if it was just yesterday. Along with that comes the salvage and removal of all their belongings that have accumulated over the years. Memories….

As I enter her bedroom I come across the cedar chest that has been in the corner gathering dust and covered in old crocheted afghans. I was always curious as to what my mother hid in her little chest.

Imagine to my surprise and curiosity I came across an old newspaper package wrapped in an old ribbon. As I untied the ribbon, tears formed in my eyes, I was holding “letters of love” that my father had written to my mother while he was stationed overseas during WWI. Letters and postcards stamped with SOLDIERS MAIL. All professing his love for her, his day to day life, rations, snow, cold, so on and so on. He writes about the day he will return to her and they will build their life together. My mother kept all of these and more mementos from this era of time.

I needed to honor my parents and preserve their memories, our family legacy and share with our family, children and grandchildren.

Barbara S.”

Preserving Family Legacy