I frequently include the questions below when conducting personal history interviews. As you can see, there are many significant events and memorable experiences to share with loved ones.
- When and where were you born?
- Where did you grow up?
- What was it like?
- Who were your parents?
- What were your parents like?
- How was your relationship with your parents?
- Who were your grandparents?
- What were your grandparents like?
- Any favorite Aunts and Uncles?
- Do you have any siblings?
- What were they like growing up?
- How would you describe yourself as a child? Were you happy?
- What did you look like?
- What is your best memory of childhood? Worst?
- Did you get into trouble? What was the worst thing you did?
- Did you have a nickname? How’d you get it?
- Who were your best friends? What were they like?
- What would you do for fun as a kid?
- How would you describe a perfect day when you were young?
- What did you think your life would be like when you were older?
- Do you have any favorite stories from your childhood?
- Did you enjoy school?
- What kind of student were you?
- How would your classmates remember you?
- Are you still friends with anyone from that time in your life?
- What are your best memories of grade school/high school/college/graduate school? Worst memories?
- Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence on your life?
- Do you have any favorite stories from school?
- What do/did you do for a living?
- Tell me about how you got into your line of work.
- Do/did you like your job?
- What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- What lessons has your work life taught you?
- If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?
- Do you plan on retiring? If so, when? How do you feel about it?
- Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?
LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS
- Do you have a love of your life?
- When did you first fall in love?
- Can you tell me about your first kiss?
- What was your first serious relationship?
- Do you believe in love at first sight?
- Do you ever think about previous lovers?
- What lessons have you learned from your relationships?
MARRIAGE & PARTNERSHIPS
- How did you meet your husband/wife?
- How did you know he/she was “the one”?
- How did you propose?
- What were the best times? The most difficult times?
- Did you ever think of getting divorced?
- Did you ever get divorced? Can you tell me about it?
- What advice do you have for young couples?
- Do you have any favorite stories from your marriage or about your husband/wife?
- What is your ethnic background?
- Where is your mom’s family from? Where is your dad’s family from?
- Have you ever been there? What was that experience like?
- What traditions have been passed down in your family?
- Who were your favorite relatives?
- Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
- What are the classic family stories? Jokes? Songs?
- Can you tell me about your religious beliefs/spiritual beliefs? What is your religion?
- Have you experienced any miracles?
- What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
- Do you believe in God?
- Do you believe in the after-life? What do you think it will be like?
- Can you tell me about your illness?
- Do you think about dying? Are you scared?
- How do you imagine your death?
- Do you believe in an after-life?
- Do you regret anything?
- Do you look at your life differently now than before you were diagnosed?
- Do you have any last wishes?
- If you were to give advice to your grandchildren or great grandchildren, what would it be?
- What have you learned from life? The most important things?
- Has this illness changed you? What have you learned?
- How do you want to be remembered?