Showing posts with label heirloom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heirloom. Show all posts

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Family History Month: Three Belles in the Bronx

Until I wrote this blog post, I didn't know what to call the technique used in this reverse-glass-painted picture that graced the walls of my childhood bedroom for so long.

This appears to be a modern form of tinsel painting, a 19th-century folk art where people or objects are painted in reverse on glass, then embossed foils from cigar boxes or tea packages are placed behind the glass to add dimension and texture.

My memory is that my parents knew the person who painted this mid-20th-century piece, which features three graceful Southern Belles. Maybe the painter didn't know it would be displayed in the bedroom of three little girls growing up in the Bronx, New York?

The photo above doesn't do justice to this heirloom. Each area of the glass has a different embossed foil behind it. The fashion details are painted just as carefully as the delicate facial features. Now these belles are being passed down to the next generation, along with the family story.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Family History Month: Bequeath the Story with the Heirloom


During Family History Month, I'm continuing to write down the stories of the family heirlooms that will pass to the next generation.

This is an excerpt from two pages I wrote about my late mother-in-law's artistic ceramic sculptures. Hubby and I have three animal sculptures to bequeath. We want to be sure  descendants know more about Marian McClure Wood (1909-1983) and how she developed her interest and skill in creating these sculptures.

Between checking with family members and researching the teacher's name, I learned a lot about Marian and her artistry. On more than one occasion, she entered her sculptures in the prestigious juried May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art--and her works were accepted for display several times! It only took a few clicks to find the records buried in the museum's digital archives.

Now Marian's grandchildren will not only have these sculptures, they'll know about Marian's artistic talent and take pride in her accomplishments. We're doing the same with other heirlooms so the stories get bequeathed along with the heirlooms for future generations to appreciate, including photos on the write-ups to be sure everyone knows which heirloom is which.

If you're writing down the story of an heirloom, start with what you were told or what you observed. Include details about the heirloom (what, when, where, why) and talk about the person who created it or treasured it. Explain why it's something for the family to keep. Even just a paragraph or two will give the next generation a better understanding of the history of that heirloom and the family.

This is part of the PASS process discussed in my genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Junk or Joy? Think of Future Generations!

Lots of wisdom in a recent Washington Post article titled: "Just because an item doesn't spark joy, doesn't mean you should toss it."

So many people are following the fad for saving only possessions that spark "joy" (based on best-selling author Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). But this doesn't mean throwing out family history along with the family china that none of the kids or grandkids wants right now. UPDATE: Today's New York Times has a similar article, focusing on how many downsizers are coping with younger relatives' disinterest in having the family china, furniture, etc.

The author of the Washington Post article says that "passing down at least some of those possessions creates an important connection between generations and has a vital part in a family’s history." Her advice: save a few select things rather than everything. "Choose things that have special meaning — a serving dish that you used every Thanksgiving, old family photos . . . "

That's why the "chickie pitcher" shown at top is still in the family, while the magazine shown at right is not.

This pitcher, passed down in the Wood family, was part of holiday meals for as my hubby can remember (and that's a long way back). His mother, Marian McClure Wood, would put it out along with coffee and dessert on Thanksgiving and other occasions. We've continued the tradition in our family!

The Workbasket magazine, however, is a different kind of keepsake. My mother, Daisy Schwartz Burk, was an avid needleworker and subscribed to this magazine for at least a decade. But as part of my Genealogy Go-Over and in the pantheon of heirlooms, the four issues held by the family for 50 years have a very low priority.

Rather than relegate these good condition magazines to the flea market or recycle bin, I found them a new home: the Missouri History Museum, which collects magazines issued by Missouri-based publishers. The museum lacked the particular issues I was offering, and was especially pleased that the address labels were still attached.

I signed a deed of gift (similar to the one shown here) and donated all four issues, along with a brief paragraph describing my mother and her love of needlework. It gives me joy to know that Mom's name will forever be attached to magazines preserved and held in the museum archives. (May I suggest: For more ideas about how to sort your genealogical collection and the possibilities of donating artifacts, please see my book Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sorting Saturday: Daisy's Decoupage

My mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) loved to crochet and embroider, and even did a bit of needlepoint and petit-point in her twenties.

But she never did any decoupage. Nope, even though I remember her showing off this unusual, personalized metal lunch box made into a special purse.

My Sis read my original post (in italics, below) and corrected my faulty memory. It seems back in the early 1970s or so, one of Mom's bosses had this one-of-a-kind decoupage purse made especially for her as a Christmas gift. While Mom admired it, the darn thing was heavy and a bit clunky. Maybe Mom never even used it, Sis says. My guess is she used it a couple of times when going to work, just so the boss could see that she appreciated his thoughtfulness.

My lesson learned: Always ask family before recording the history of a so-called heirloom.

Which brings up a question for Sis: If Mom never made this decoupage piece, why the heck do we still have it in our possession after all these decades?

MY ORIGINAL STORY, now debunked by Sis:

In her late 40s, she (Mom) became interested in the craze for decoupage and decided to create a purse from a black metal lunch box (the kind with a domed lid for a thermos).

Here's the result, featuring magazine pictures she liked, cut out, and added in painstaking layers. Mom would be happy to know how much her descendants treasure these hand-crafted items, now family heirlooms!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful Thursday: Passing My Parents' 70-Year-Old Wedding Album to Heirs

Saving my parents' wedding album by making a photo book for their 3 grandchildren
On November 24, 1946, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, my parents, Harry Burk (1909-1978) and Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981) were married at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City. Today would have been their 70th wedding anniversary!

After so many decades, their wedding album was pretty beat up-looking (see below). So I decided to preserve it and share it with Harry & Daisy's three grandchildren now, along with the story of their courtship and marriage. This is also an easy way to be sure that a single heirloom album can be enjoyed by multiple heirs for many years to come.

Here are the steps I took, little by little, to make a pretty and romantic photobook from the wedding album:

1. Remove each 8 x 10 inch photo from its sleeve in the binder and scan it at high resolution. (I could have scanned without removing the photos, if the album was too deteriorated, but not necessary in this case.)

2. Clean up the images electronically and upload them to a photo book website (I like Shutterfly but others are also excellent).

3. Arrange the photos in sequence, adding the story of courtship and wedding as captions. Also, identify everyone in the photos by full name and relationship (so these details aren't forgotten by future generations--keeping family history alive!).

4. Add a touch of color to each page for visual interest (younger folks may find an all black-and-white book a bit boring).

5. Press the "order" button to buy multiple copies for multiple heirs.

6. The original wedding album will be passed to an heir in the next generation, as designated in my "genealogical will."

On Thanksgiving, I'm feeling thankful for my parents' wedding 70 years ago.