Messaging to Obtain Information

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Interviewing relatives is an important step in the genealogy research process. Sending messages through Geni serves as a free and effective way to obtain specific information much like a personal interview would.


Through Geni you have the ability to send a message to " Immediate Family of..." and/or " Descendents of..." a particular person. Therefore, if you are trying to obtain information about a specific person you can send a message to the descendents or immediate family of that person, which are the people most likely to have the information you are looking for. This messaging feature is very valuable in the fact that it allows users to quickly and efficiently get into contact with the people that have certain documents or information you are looking for.

Geni also allows you to automatically generate a message to your " Immediate Family", " Family", and/or " Friends" with a simple click of a button.

Create a Message Now

Interviewing Relatives

When you are interviewing relatives there are many questions that you should ask them in order to obtain a full picture of their life or the persons life you are asking about. Here is a list of 50 questions that you can use to interview living relatives about themselves or another relative. These questions will aid you in gaining an understanding of the conditions in which your relative lived.

About the person

  • What is your full name?
  • Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
  • What do you know about your family surname?
  • Why did your parents select the name for you?
  • Did you have a nickname?
  • When and where were you born?

About childhood

  • What is your earliest childhood memory?
  • What kind of games did you play growing up?
  • What was your favorite toy? And why?
  • What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
  • Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?
  • Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?
  • What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High school? College?
  • Who were your childhood heroes?
  • Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were there names?

About the childhood surroundings

  • How did your family come to live where you were born?
  • What was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones?
  • Were there any special items in the house that you remember?
  • Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
  • Were there other family members in the area? Who?

About youth

  • What school activities and sports did you participate in?
  • What were your favorite songs and music?
  • Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper? (Scan newspaper article)
  • Who were your friends when you were growing up?
  • Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
  • Did you have a religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend?

About the youth surroundings

  • Describe the personalities of your family members.
  • Describe a typical family dinner? Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
  • How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
  • What world events had the most impact on your while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
  • How is the world today different from what it was like when you were young?

About adulthood

  • What was your profession and how did you choose it?
  • If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?
  • Did you travel abroad? To where? For how long?

Becoming a parent

  • What is the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents?
  • When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?
  • What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
  • Where and when did you get married?
  • What memory stand out the most from your wedding day?
  • How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
  • What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
  • How did you find out you were going to be a parent for the first time?
  • Why did you choose your children’s names?
  • What was your proudest moment as a parent?
  • What did your family enjoy doing together?

About family heritage/legacy

  • Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?
  • What stories have come down to you about your parents?
  • Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?
  • Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
  • Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles, or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?
  • Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?

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