10 Ways To Uncover Your Grandparents’ Hidden Stories

Whether it’s old photos, strange names, family stories or traditions, our grandparents offer a treasure trove of precious family information that should be documented and shared.

Storytelling is a great way to create a stronger family bond, share family moments and have our children and grandchildren feel part of a grander history. Children love listening to stories and looking at old photographs. Seeing a family tree filled with images of people they may or may not know will peak their curiousity to ask many questions and learn about their heritage.

Here are some top tips to help uncover the hidden stories your grandparents have been keeping up their sleeves and discover more about family history:

1. Interview Relatives. Interviewing family members is a great way to learn about earlier generations and discover more about your family heritage. It’s important to ask the right questions to encourage older relatives to provide anecdotes rather than just facts. Ask open-ended questions such as “How was it like growing up in…” to get a story with the historical details.

2. Record memories. Family history should be passed down properly to younger generations. Family stories are often altered or embellished over the years; a great way to preserve them is by recording them via video or audio. With smartphones, it’s even easier to sit with grandparents, ask questions and record the answers anytime, anywhere

3. Discover the story behind family photos. Old family photos provide invaluable information. Go through wedding photos or family portraits and ask about those people you don’t know. You may learn the story behind a family event captured in a photograph, emotions surrounding life events, and the names of previously unknown relatives

4. Create a family time capsule. At every family gathering, collect new information and add it to a family box such as photos, old recipes and documents. Children can easily be involved in creating a beautiful and crafty family treasure chest to hold this information. Keep this box and hand it down to the next generation to add their own memories.

5. Go on an ancestral journey. Take a trip to visit the place where your grandparents grew up. Visit important places such as their childhood home or their school. Have them share stories at each place you visit.

6. Learn about family heirlooms. Are there any jewelry, furniture or household objects passed down through generations and still used? Find out from your grandparents where those heirlooms came from and where and when the tradition began. Spring cleaning is another great way to stumble upon old family objects in the family. Anything that might be considered “old” and “tattered,” may actually have a fascinating story behind it, so ask!

7.  Plan a family reunion. A family reunion is a great place to meet relatives, discover new family information and share stories. Often grandparents can be the connections between distant family and can provide contacts. Ideas include a family trip, a reunion weekend with games and more!

8. Learn a “new” skill. Step into the shoes of your grandparents and learn a skill they had that is uncommon today. Write a real letter to a family member instead of an email, or use a paper map instead of GPS on the next family road trip.

9. Visit your grandparents often. If you don’t live close, Skype or a phone call is a great way to stay in touch. Every time you speak, ask about old family memories, have them share stories and clear up any family history information on which you’re stumped.

10. Start a free, family tree together. Today – with the many tools and features at MyHeritage.com – it’s easier than ever to start building a free, family tree. Ask your grandparents to fill in missing names and information to add more details. You can even edit information, and upload photos on the go with the MyHeritage mobile app during your next visit!

Each of our families has a unique history, which should be documented and shared. Unless that knowledge is preserved and documented before our grandparents die or their memories fade, then that information may be lost forever.

Do you have any other tips? Have you uncovered hidden stories from your grandparents? Let us know in the comments below.