Your first step is talking to your family! Write down as many names, dates, and locations as people remember. While it's important to keep in mind that memories are faulty and many family legends (the "Indian princess," etc.) are just that - legends - your living ancestors' memories are your first and most valuable resource. In fact, you might even want to use your phone or some other device to record your conversations. Oral histories can become precious family keepsakes. Here is a list of suggested questions.
Remember: Some memories are painful. Be respectful if there are topics that a person doesn't want to discuss.
What is your full name?
What is your birthday?
Where were you born?
What was your father’s name?
What was your father’s birthday?
Where was your father born?
What was your father’s job?
What was your mother’s name?
What was your mother’s birthday?
Where was your mother born?
What was your mother’s job?
If you have brothers and sisters, what are their names?
Did you get married?
Who did you marry?
Where and when did you get married?
If you have children, what are their names?
Do you remember your grandparents?
Were you ever in the military?
What schools did you go to?
Did your family go to a church/synagogue/mosque?
What cemeteries did your family use?
Can you tell me some of your favorite stories about your family?
What do you want people to remember about your family?