Topics

Asking Family For Information

Shmuel Meyer
 

Shalom,

I want to ask family for genealogical details. How is the best way to do it: a web form, a list of questions, other ideas?

Thanks.

Shmuel
https://meyer-services.net/webtrees

Maurine McLellan
 

I have had best luck by sending what information I have, even if it is not documented. People are much more willing to correct you and then add info than they are to reply to a, “please tell me what you know” request.

Maurine McLellan
Researching:
BOTHMAN (BOIDMAN), Zhitomir, Kiev
BEJACH, Zempelburg (Sepolno Krajenskie), Berlin
FLEISCHER, Latvia
SACHS, Huluipol, Lithuania

Ina Getzoff
 

Shmuel:
Depending on who you plan to interview for family information you can either set up an appointment with them and have your list of questions for the information you want to know or if they are in another part of the country you can speak with them on the phone. You can also e-mail them the questions and ask them to answer to the best of their ability. Lastly, you might want to speak with them and possibly record their answers if you have the ability to do that. Just a few suggestions.
Ina Getzoff
Delray Beach, Fla


Laurie Sosna
 

It does depend on how much you already know, what you are looking for and how close you are to the family members.
Start with what you know and let them fill in the rest.  People will add to or correct, the blank form can be daunting.

I've had mixed results with relatives, some will give you a lot of info, others just won't.
You can follow up with emails and phone calls, but unless you are in the same room, you can't be sure of results.
I record the conversation, if I can. Using an app on my phone is less intrusive, people forget it's on.

I had a phone call once with a cousin, I tried to keep her on track, but things went off the rails pretty quickly.
Memory is a fluid thing, it meanders and wanders and connects in strange ways. Older relatives can get tired, or emotional. You have to legislate for that.

If you search for family history questionnaire genealogy, you'll find some great lists of questions.
Looking through them will give you an idea of how broad you can go.

There are some useful forms online, I searched for: family history form genealogy

Laurie Sosna

geniediane
 

Have a list of specific questions but also have some bit of information that they may not know

about which will pique their interest and get them to respond more fully.

 

Diane Jacobs

 

 


From: main@... [mailto:main@...] On Behalf Of Shmuel Meyer
Sent: Monday, February 10, 2020 10:37 PM
To: main@...
Subject: [JewishGen.org] Asking Family For Information

 

Shalom,

I want to ask family for genealogical details. How is the best way to do it: a web form, a list of questions, other ideas?

Thanks.

Shmuel
https://meyer-services.net/webtrees


--
Diane Jacobs

Ellen
 

It depends on what information you're seeking and whether you already know some of the details. 

When I was a teenager, I sat down with my grandparents and asked about both of their families, putting the names of their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. in a hand-drawn chart.  They didn't seem to know - or perhaps didn't remember - exactly where their parents came from beyond "Russia" and "Romania."  But the names that my grandparents provided were a great resource when I began researching my family roots many years later.  Not everything they told me was 100% accurate, but it was a good start!

If you already have some information, I agree that you should share what you know and let your relatives make corrections or provide additional details.

Ellen
--
Researching WEISSMAN/VAYSMAN (Ostropol, Ukraine); MOROZ and ESTRIN (Shklov & Bykhov, Belarus); LESSER/LESZEROVITZ, MAIMAN, and BARNETT/BEINHART/BERNHART (Lithuania/Latvia); and ROSENSWEIG/ROSENZWEIG, KIRSCHEN, and SCHWARTZ (Botosani, Romania)

jbonline1111@...
 

I agree with others that it helps to start with what you think you know and ask them to elaborate on and correct your information.  Often they will say there is "nothing to tell." My father never mentioned that he had had a stepfather until I found a copy of the marriage certificate and asked him about it.  His mother died shortly after the marriage, so he probably didn't think it was important.  Yet it was with that husband that his mother was naturalized.  

If you want to ask about social and religious life, I suggest rather specific questions that might lead to reminiscences that can be recorded.  For example, "what do you remember about religious school?"  "What was your favorite subject in school?  Why?"
--
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Palekaiko
 

I began my genealogy career in 1984.  My parents were alive and I used some shareware as my database vehicle.  As with so many others Jews in the world, the family was spread all over.  My parents helped me construct our family tree, filling in as much information as they could remember.  Now came the hard/tedious part.....collecting more information.  We created a form letter, which was sent to all, whose addresses were known at the time.  After 4-6 months, I was amazed at the response rate.  The details of our tree were slowly being filled in and voila, I had a family.  The important aspects of this process are 1) oral history from immediate family and 2) a reliable database.  It's now several decades later and my parents are gone and my database is Brother's Keeper.  I've reached out to distant family and have been rewarded with names, photos and contact information.  I also keep an ongoing list of questions I wished I would have asked my parents.  And lastly, I wished I would have visited Vienna (where my parents grew up) with my parents, trekking the streets of Vienna as they would have, seeing this beautiful city through their eyes.  To all those just beginning this journey, it will be expensive, but don't miss an opportunity to share it with your family, young and old.

Michael Diamant
Kauai, Hawaii

Glenda Rubin
 

I've had a similar situation, and maybe group members have some suggestions.

My mother provided reams of information about relatives: names, spouses, even dates of birth.  But, while she knew they were related to my grandparents, she never knew how because it was never explained beyond that they were cousins. So, I have many people in my family tree program who are, orphans, so to speak because I have no way to make a relationship connection. 

I know, generally, you have to go back in time to try to find a connection. Ss we all know, that's not easy for 19th century shtetlach in Ukraine. 

Glenda

On Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 6:34 AM Ellen <lnmp@...> wrote:
It depends on what information you're seeking and whether you already know some of the details. 

When I was a teenager, I sat down with my grandparents and asked about both of their families, putting the names of their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. in a hand-drawn chart.  They didn't seem to know - or perhaps didn't remember - exactly where their parents came from beyond "Russia" and "Romania."  But the names that my grandparents provided were a great resource when I began researching my family roots many years later.  Not everything they told me was 100% accurate, but it was a good start!

If you already have some information, I agree that you should share what you know and let your relatives make corrections or provide additional details.

Ellen
--
Researching WEISSMAN/VAYSMAN (Ostropol, Ukraine); MOROZ and ESTRIN (Shklov & Bykhov, Belarus); LESSER/LESZEROVITZ, MAIMAN, and BARNETT/BEINHART/BERNHART (Lithuania/Latvia); and ROSENSWEIG/ROSENZWEIG, KIRSCHEN, and SCHWARTZ (Botosani, Romania)


--
=========================================
Glenda Rubin
San Francisco Bay Area
Researching: STRYZEWSKI, STRAUSS, JANOFSKY, JANOFF, OBODOV, WERNICK, GREENBERG, KROCHAK. Shtetls: Lipovets, Ilintsy, Pliskov, Starokonstantinov, Krasilov