When the family gets together to celebrate the holiday, it is a great time to get started on your family history. 

Passover is a good time to tell stories, identify family photos in shoe boxes and dusty albums, learn about family heirlooms, cherished keepsakes and favorite recipes, and do oral histories.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston is dedicated to helping people discover and research their Jewish family history. JGSGB welcomes beginners and has expert members with a broad range of skills in various research techniques who are happy to help others. For information on programs and event, special interest groups, expert help, resources and membership go to jgsgb.org.

Get started talking to relatives with the resources below:

Ancestral Chart (Ancestry.com)

3 Generation Family Chart (Family Search)

Family History – made simple (Video. FamilySearch.org)


20 Questions for Interviewing Relatives.  Use these questions as a springboard for planning your oral history interviews. (Family Tree Magazine)

Family History Sample Outline and Questions from UCLA’s Center for Oral History Research  

Oral History Interview, Questions and Topics (JewishGen.org) A list of questions to use when interviewing an older member of the family.  You can, of course, alter them to suit your particular family (cultural background, etc.).

PASSOVER; Adding Your Own Family’s Stories to the Holiday (Jewish Journal) by Ellie Kahn, Oral Historian. Ellie Kahn is an Oral Historian, journalist and psychotherapist.  She created Living Legacies Family Histories 25 years ago to record the stories and memories of family and community elders. Her goals are to honor the storytellers as well as ensuring that future generations will know about their roots and those who came before them.

At the Newton Free Library:  Getting Together Over the Holidays? Have Fun Encouraging Family Story Telling by Ginny Audet. Coordinator of the Newton Genealogy Club, Newton Free Library and creator of the blog, THE CURIOUS GENEALOGIST.  Contact: NewtonGenealogyClub@gmail.com.

Books recommended by THE CURIOUS GENEALOGIST

Hart, Cynthia.  The Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your Family and Friends.  New York: Workman, 2009.  907.2 H25O   This work covers all the bases.  It helps you prepare for an oral interview, and makes suggestions about the things you do once the interview is over, including transcribing and editing it. The center, Chapter 3, is comprised of all sorts of questions you could ask.  (It helps to have those prepared in advance, in case you need all of them. A good interview is knowing when to just let your interviewee tell stories and when you need to guide the interview with questions.

Greene, Bob.  To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come.  New York: Doubleday, 1993.  929.1 G83T   Need more questions? That is what this book is —  a list of questions sorted by category.

Ralph, LeAnn R. Preserve Your Family History: A Step-by-Step Guide for Interviewing Family Members and Writing Oral Histories.  Colfax, WI: LeAnn Ralph, 2007.  929.1 R13P

Catching Stories: A Practical Guide to Oral History.  by Donna M. DeBlasio et al.  Athens, OH: Swallow Press, 2009.  907.2 C28D