Family History Book(s)

There is nothing quite like digging up the past! Whether it’s visiting your local library  or visiting a research center to sift through primary documents. I find myself getting a taste of a topic and then wanting to know as much about it as I can. Believe me, its hard not to get lost in hours and hours of research–it’s so exhilarating. What’s even more exciting and engaging is when your research takes you into your family’s past.


Old Family Photos

I’ve looked into making a family history album in the past, but I have not had time to devote to it. My folks have boxes full of Frederick family photos and documents sitting in the attic–not a good spot for them! It would be good to go through them, organize, scan and print them in an album. Face it, this stuff won’t last forever. I just hope my future children and their children will cherish and take interest in it like I have.

Additionally, Molly’s folks gave me a treasure trove of her family photos and mementos. One of those items is her great great grandpa’s passport!  I also have her great grandparents wedding announcements and other documents. There are also boxes full of photographs that I have yet to go through. These are such wonderful items that piece together to tell her family’s story.

You would think that writing this would be easy. I mean, it is my family’s story. The tough part is how to make a family history album more than just birthday, marriage, and death dates. These family members had personal experiences that I need to capture. I remember Grandpa Frederick telling me that shortly after marrying Grandma Millie in 1943 the “G-Men” showed up to take him to a physical exam for the draft. He said that he went through the examination, but that he would not be required to serve. Molly’s Great Grandma, whom I was fortunate enough to meet when we started dating, told us the story of the transatlantic trip her family took to Switzerland when she was a little girl. They were going to Europe to stay with her father’s family. She talked about walking on the deck of the ship as they crossed the Atlantic. These are just a few of the great stories that will fill the pages of a book.


Great Grandpa Frederick’s WWII draft registration

I am really looking forward to doing this…it is long overdue. I am making it my goal to do at least one of these books before the end of 2017. I have a mass of photos and documents ready to go into one of these books; it’s just a matter organizing and making sense of it. There are a lot of examples of how to assemble a book like this on Pinterest that will guide me through the process.  I will post my progress as I work on it in the next year.

Have you put together a family history album? How did you go about doing it?  What was the most exciting details you uncovered about your family history? Share some of your project stories in the comment section below.

Lost & Found History

Every now and then I acquire some history that has been lost. This particular piece was found in the floorboards of a home. I recovered it and could not bring myself to throw it away. It was tucked into a small envelope, which is how I used to get report cards. I would like to find a family member of this woman, Jane Koch. From the information on the report card, she attended Jefferson Elementary in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. If anyone can claim this woman as an ancestor, I will gladly give you back a piece of your family’s history.

Report Card

The Armchair Genealogist: Writing Your Family History

Found a very interesting link that caught my attention. I would love to put together a nice family history book. I would like to piece together the bits and pieces I know now for my future kids. The best way to get family history is to talk to your family. Things are not always written down, so it is important to talk to your older family members.

The Armchair Genealogist: Writing Your Family History.

Exploring Your Family’s Past

(Nebraska State Historical Society)

I love everything about history. What I find most stimulating are situations that call for some serious historical investigation. History would not be as fun if everything was plain and simple, laid out for us, requiring little to no effort to explore the past. If you love that rigorous researching and exploring, try exploring your family history. The only warning I have for those aspiring to explore their family tree, beware, it is addictive.

Granpda and his first car

Granpda and his first car

You might ask where to start.  The best thing to do is to get a recorder or pen & paper and start talking to relatives. Talk to your grand parents or older relative to record some of their history. Where and when were they born? What were their parents’ names, birth dates, and death dates. These are some good points start at, and they will help expand the tree later. I was only 15 when my grandpa died, but I remember asking him about his childhood, when we met my grandma, and other interesting things. Once these people are gone, their history goes with them.

There are some really good sites out there that can help you dig deeper. Ancestry is a good site, although it does charge a monthly fee. You might want to check to see if you have access to the site if you are a student at an academic institution. Another site that has free features is familysearch.orgHeritageQuest Online is another amazing research tool for family history. Check with your local library to see if you have access to it through your library account. Acquiring information is one ordeal, storing it is another.

Receipt for Grandpa from Great Grandpa

Another tip when doing family history is to keep things very organized, or you could risk loosing them in the mass of information you gather. My mother has two ways of keeping track of her research. She has folders with last names, so all the family information is categorized by last night. She has a program by Ancestry called Family Tree Maker that allows her to organize an electronic family tree. You can also register it and add information from the Ancestry site right to your tree.

Family Tree Maker 2012

Great grandparents wedding

Great grandparents wedding

Have fun with your family research! You never know what kind of information you might find. I was digging through some old boxes and discovered old photos and documents, some that really blew me away. These are all ways to document your family history and pass it on to your future generations. There a lot more ways to explore your genealogy. Check out your local library for old newspapers or locally published information, you may find relatives who highlighted in stories. Courthouses and archives have and can get information about family members like marriage certificates, death certificates, and naturalization records.