New "Member Friday" Webinar - Successful Collateral and Cluster Searches by Thomas MacEntee
Register for Tuesday's MyHeritage webinar: TRIBAL QUEST: The Latest Expedition by Golan Levi

Learn More, Ask Grandma or Grandpa!

Learn More, Ask Grandma or Grandpa!

Have you considered doing something to celebrate Grandparents Day?

National Grandparents Day is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day and has three purposes:

  • “To honor grandparents.
  • To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children.
  • To help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.”[1]

 As family historians, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about our grandparent’s lives, interview our grandparents,  or even document our grandchildren’s grandparents! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

If You Have A Grandparent

Are you lucky enough to  have your grandparents around? Now is a good time to sit down with them and ask a few questions. Don’t feel overwhelmed by conducting a “formal” interview. Even a casual conversation where you ask about a time in their life, an event they experienced, or “where were you on” a specific day can lead to genealogical information. Use your cell phone to record their memories (with their permission of course). Really listen to what they say and then ask follow-up questions including whether they still have photos of that event or time. Don’t worry if you can’t travel to talk to them in person. Use email, Skype, FaceTime or other technologies to be with them virtually.

One of my favorite memories of my dad before he passed away was being at the hospital with my oldest son when my dad started telling  stories about his parents (my grandparents) that I had never heard. Lucky for me my son had thought to ask and audio record my dad telling those stories. While we didn’t aim to do an “interview” just a few questions led to him telling family stories.

If Your Grandparents Aren’t Around

If you’re like me, your grandparents may no longer be around to talk to  but this day is a good reminder to go over the genealogy you’ve already collected and see what else you can add. Do you have a copy of their marriage license? What about birth certificates? Have you checked digitized newspaper and book websites for mentions of their names, events they were a part of, or where they lived? Consider some time exploring an aspect of their life in more detail like their occupation or memberships. If you knew your grandparents, write down your memories so that the next generation can benefit from it.

If You Are A Grandparent

Now’s the time to tell your story! Don’t think for one minute that your life is not interesting enough or you have nothing to pass on to your grandchildren. How much would it mean to you to  have a letter, story, or diary from your grandparents? Even if your grandchildren are too young to appreciate that gift now, they will one day be grateful.

Don’t feel overwhelmed with the task of writing your story. Take one incident, event, or day in your life. Think about what your grandchildren will or are experiencing and write about how that same event  impacted you. Such experiences might include graduating from high school, going to college, getting married, or the birth of your first child.

Happy Grandparents Day!


[1] “The History of Grandparents Day,” Legacy ( accessed 30 August 2019).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)