Showing posts sorted by relevance for query heirloom. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query heirloom. Sort by date Show all posts

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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What Does an Heirloom Look Like? Not Like This!

This is NOT a family heirloom!
Devon Noel Lee of Family History Fanatics was the guest expert for a recent #Genchat, all about downsizing with #FamilyHistory in mind. (You can learn more from her book.)

Devon posed thought-provoking questions about how to decide what to save for future generations. Judging by the relatively few heirlooms that I've inherited, clearly my ancestors did their own downsizing, starting with decisions about the handful of items they brought from Eastern Europe to America. My husband's family has been in America much longer and has had much more storage space, which is why so many interesting items have survived over the years.

It's so hard to say goodbye

During #Genchat, we had a lively discussion about how difficult it can be to let go of inherited items, especially if they provoke strong emotions about people, places, and events from our family's past.

Still, if we downsize thoughtfully and carefully, we can focus the next generation on items of special significance to our family.

Also, there was a lot of conversation about photos. My take-away: I have to get back to scanning, captioning, and dating as many photos as possible now. Otherwise, descendants may never know who's who.

My little red bench

I do have a number of heirlooms to pass to the next generation. That doesn't include the item in the photo at top. It's a wooden bench about 6 inches high and 12 inches long. Originally, the bench was red with some cutesy saying or song on the top.

As toddlers, Sis and I each had one of these benches, which we put next to the sink so we could reach to wash our hands. This bench has been repainted more than a few times during its long life, moving to ten different homes with me over the years. I'm not particularly attached to it. It just takes up little room and is handy to use whenever I need a step up.

However! No matter how many years it's been with me, I definitely don't consider this bench to be a family heirloom. It has no special significance, other than being a useful little bench. After I join my ancestors, someone else can repaint and reuse it or retire it--guilt-free.

Monday, September 26, 2022

How a Family Heirloom Lives On

My paternal grandfather, Isaac Burk (1882-1943) and his older brother, Abraham Berk (1877-1962), both trained as cabinetmakers before leaving their hometown of Gargzdai, Lithuania, around the turn of the 20th century. They were seeking more economic opportunity in North America...Isaac ultimately settling in New York City, Abraham settling in Montreal.

That lovely piece of furniture in the photo at top, complete with special touches, was handmade by Isaac many decades in the past.

After Isaac died, the night stand was used daily by his widow, my grandmother Henrietta Mahler Burk (1881-1954), and then inherited by her younger son, my uncle Sidney B. Burk (1914-1995). 

Today, this heirloom has a special place in the home of my first cousin, who regularly talks of Isaac and Henrietta to his children and grandchildren.

Even without the actual heirloom, I do the same--telling descendants of Isaac's woodworking virtuosity and showing off the photo to give the next generation a sense of pride about their ancestor's creation. His name and his skills will live on!

Friday, February 23, 2018

52 Ancestors #8: Did They Ever Think These Would Be Heirlooms?

Over time, so many of the items left to me or given to me by relatives and ancestors have become treasured heirlooms, valued not for financial value but for emotional and sentimental reasons. This week's #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow is a great opportunity to think about accidental heirlooms, not just those intended to be special.

Above, the silver napkin ring awarded by my mother's Farkas Family Tree association to each newborn child, male or female. For years--seriously, years!--one of my aunts tried to get the tree to give a different gift to baby boys (like her son, my 1st cousin R). She was voted down every time. This napkin ring was an honored gift tradition for decades.
Above, another item that was an heirloom even in its own time. My grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz kept this cut glass bowl close to her heart because, if I got the story straight, it came with the family from Hungary to America in the early 1900s. My mother inherited it and now I'm the lucky custodian, keeping it safe for the next generation.

But other heirlooms were surely not intended or appreciated as such. At right, a velvet banner used by my late father-in-law Edgar James Wood to promote his piano trio during 1950s/60s gigs in Cleveland. Did Ed ever imagine this would be an heirloom in the 21st century? I bet the answer is no.

We can never predict exactly what future generations will consider to be heirlooms. So we need to take good care of all these family items, just in case. And--most important--we need to tell the stories of why these are (or should be) heirlooms, so that information is passed down along with the items themselves.

For more about sharing family history with future generations, please check out my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in paperback and Kindle.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Two Bracelets, Two Family Heirlooms

Daisy and Dorothy Schwartz, mid-1920s
Shown here in one of my favorite photos is Mom (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Schwartz, 1919-2001), with matching Buster Brown haircuts and lacy dropped-waist dresses.

Look very carefully at the arm of the smiling twin on the right, and you can see a dainty pearl bracelet dangling from her wrist. No doubt both girls had identical bracelets, but only Mom's survives.

It's a tiny heirloom (see the ruler to see how tiny) that will be shared with Mom's descendants, along with the treasured studio photo of the twins.

Worn by Daisy Schwartz Burk

The second bracelet heirloom is this one from the late 1950s, a piece of Mom's costume jewelry with photos on both sides--photos of her twin daughters (Sis and me).

As with the pearl bracelet, this charm bracelet will be shared with Mom's descendants, along with memories of her and her twin sister, my Auntie Dorothy.

One of my 2020 goals is to finish a booklet about Daisy and Dorothy, with lots of photos to bring them alive for future generations who never had the opportunity to know them.

"Favorite photo" is this week's #52Ancestors prompt.

Monday, December 13, 2021

For the Holidays, a Bite-Sized Family History Project


With Christmas fast approaching, I asked my wonderful hubby to please write a few lines about his childhood memories of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He thought for a few minutes about what stood out, both the good and the not-so-good, and he wrote half a page. As we talked, more details started flooding back. Pretty soon he had a full page of memories, ranging from putting up the tree to singing carols as his father played the piano.

Illustrating written memories

Next, my hubby browsed old 35mm slides from his childhood and chose seven to go along with his written memories. He found slides of his siblings next to the tree, one of himself in pjs and robe on Christmas Day, one of his father (Edgar James Wood) testing a Christmas toy, one of his mother (Marian McClure Wood) in holiday finery, and one of his grandfather (Brice Larimer McClure) chatting with a grandchild on Christmas. 

As a holiday surprise, we're sending family members these images along with the page of memories. Even in a busy season, we found a couple of hours to assemble the project--and I'm sure recipients will find a few minutes to read the story and smile at the photos from decades in the past.

Of course we've been sharing these and other memories around the dinner table during this year's holiday celebrations. And making new memories for the future.

Bonus: "spot the heirloom"

Among the images scanned from old slides, my eye was drawn to the one at top. It shows the living room in hubby's childhood home in Cleveland, Ohio, festively decorated for Christmas exactly as he saw in his mind's eye. 

Next to the piano keyboard, on the left edge of the image, the camera captured a special heirloom that has been passed down in the family: his mother's handmade ceramic sculpture of a zebra. I marked it with a red box in the image above. 

My heart was touched by seeing my late mom-in-law's favorite little zebra on display in her living room. Some distant day, this little zebra and her other ceramics will be inherited by descendants, along with the stories and photos.

- This is my Genealogy Blog Party post for December 2021.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Heirloom Story: My Parents' Bedroom Set

My parents, Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981) and Harold Burk (1909-1978), married on Thanksgiving weekend in 1946. They had gotten engaged on the last day of 1945, following a whirlwind courtship after being set up by his aunt (Mary Mahler Markell) and her aunt (Rose Farkas Freedman). Harold had returned from more than three years in the Army during WWII and wanted to settle down...Daisy wanted to marry and raise a family. Love blossomed!

Due to the post-war housing shortage, however, they had a long wait to find an apartment in New York City. They began married life in a basement apartment of a private home in Queens, more than an hour's subway ride away from their relatives in the Bronx. Daisy was most unhappy in this dark, cramped apartment, and they continued to look for something larger, something closer to family.

The Farkas Family Tree (my mother's family tree association) minutes from the meeting of May 2, 1948, includes a sentence in which my mother is quoted as saying to the "Good & Welfare Committee" that "for her good and welfare, she must find an apartment."

In the family tree minutes from June 13, 1948, the secretary says my parents "got a telephone but now want an apartment to put it into."

In the family tree minutes from October 10, 1948, my father is listed as having won at a "bazaar--a radio, meat slicer, Mixmaster, and several other things." But still not the apartment they truly wanted. By the end of 1948, no luck: "Daisy and Harry Burk are still looking."

Yippee! By March 6, 1949, my parents were reported to be in their new apartment, according to the Farkas Family Tree meeting minutes. This was on Carpenter Avenue in the northeast Bronx, corner of E. 222d Street. Not coincidentally, it was an apartment building in which my father's sister, brother, and mother were living. Surely that's how they heard of the vacancy of the apartment on the fourth floor of this building one block from a big park.

And the Farkas Family Tree minutes of June 5, 1949 crow: "Daisy & Harry Burk finally ordered furniture!!!" Yes, the exclamation points are in the original. It was now 2 1/2 years after their wedding.

At top, a photo of the high-boy bureau from this original mahogany bedroom set. The set was carefully crafted in the Bronx. I had it refinished in 1990, nearly 41 years after it was made, to restore it to its original beauty. The restorers admired the dovetail corners and the fine wood quality.

The high-boy, along with the vanity dresser and bench, hanging mirror, low bureau, and a night stand are in my bedroom, cherished family heirlooms that I use every day. Some lucky descendant will inherit this heirloom set, along with the story of how long Daisy and Harry fell in love, waited to marry, searched high and low for an apartment, ordered furniture, and then started their family.

PS: It's important to share our ancestors' stories now, before we join our ancestors! For more about safeguarding our family's past, please take a look at my affordable book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in paperback or digital edition.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Military Monday: Oh Canada! WWI Military Badges

Heirloom belt from WWI
I saw this wonderful belt for the first time on Saturday, when a family discussion about genealogy reminded the current owner that he had this in his possession. Hubby remembered seeing it in the attic of his childhood home many decades ago.

It was passed down by a Canadian relative--mostly likely Captain John Daniel Slatter of the 48th Highlanders of Toronto. Capt. Jack, as we like to call him, was hubby's great-uncle, one of three military bandmasters in the Slatter family.

Capt. Jack was very close to his sister, Mary Slatter Wood (who married James Edgar Wood in Ohio). We have a couple of photos of him: One, above, shows him at Camp Borden in Canada in 1917, where he trained dozens of military bands and 1,000 buglers.

According to the 48th Highlanders Regimental Museum, Capt. Jack's military record was:

1874-6    Training Ship Royal Harry
1876-81  Royal Fusiliers
1881-6    "A" Battery Royal Canadian Artillery (Quebec City and Northwest Battalion)
1916-9    Officer-in-Charge of Training Bands & Buglers, Military District #2
1896-1946  48th Highlanders of Canada (based in Toronto)

Because he was in charge of training, he would have been able to trade badges with many of the military men he trained.

Above and below are the first closeups of the badges on this incredible heirloom belt. More to come soon, leading up to Canada Day on July 1st.


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Artsy-Craftsy Marian Jane McClure Wood

Ceramic sculptures by Marian Jane McClure Wood, 1950s
Aren't these lively little creatures? They were all sculpted by my late mom-in-law, Marian Jane McClure Wood (1909-1983), the beloved only daughter of Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) and Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure (1878-1948). Marian married my dad-in-law Edgar James Wood (1903-1986) in 1935.

When her children were in high school, Marian began studying ceramic art with a world-famous sculptor, Edris Eckhardt, who--like Marian--was born and raised in Cleveland. Edris was in the vanguard of glass sculpture, inventing new processes and making a name with her innovative techniques.

My mom-in-law found joy and satisfaction in learning from Edris how to depict the animal world through careful crafting. She studied proportions and anatomy, trying different sizes, shapes, and colors to create lifelike ceramic animals with a touch of personality.

Marian was so serious about her ceramic art that her husband and father build a kiln in the basement of the Wood family home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. They had to install special wiring to operate the kiln. This enabled Marian to fire pieces at home, at her convenience.

To share the story of these sculptures with descendants, I've written a brief booklet liberally illustrated with photos of Marian's sculptures. Each of Marian's great-grandchildren will inherit one of these sculptures, along with the story, at some future time.

My goal is to write a page or two about every family heirloom, so the next generation understands why these items have been so treasured. This way, they'll inherit the provenance and the backstory along with the heirloom itself.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "craft."

Friday, January 6, 2023

Heirloom Pin from Mom-in-Law I Never Met


During the holidays, I passed down this lovely silver pin to a member of the youngest generation in the family tree. It was given to me by my sister-in-law on the occasion of my marriage to her brother some years ago...and I wanted to share that story, with the pin, so the recipient would know the happy history of this graceful heirloom. 

Telling more stories

My late mother-in-law Marian McClure Wood (1909-1983) was the first owner of this pin. I'm sad to say she passed away before I joined the family. But fortunately, her granddaughter remembers how Marian loved to wear pins, and she also told that story as the pin's new owner listened intently. 

In fact, the family has a number of photos of Marian wearing a pin prominently on her lapel. Not this particular pin, but others. She had personal style as well as an artist's eye. The family has told and retold stories about the small animal statues she made while taking lessons from a world-class ceramicist. Plus I have a box of her needlework creations (tablecloth, gloves, doilies) to share with descendants in the future. My goal is to share heirlooms while telling stories so recipients get a sense of why these items are important to family history.

Keeping her memory alive

How I wish I could have met Marian McClure Wood, a talented, creative woman. I would ask about her creative endeavors and her early life as a much-loved only child. Of course I would ask about her memories of ancestors, with a few specific questions about an in-law who married three times. 

Mom-in-law Marian would probably have been amused to know her son married another Marian, who is a needlework enthusiast and a wearer of pins. 

Most of all, I hope she would be pleased that her creations are still treasured by the family and accompanied by stories about her life, keeping her memory alive for years to come.

"I'd like to meet" is Amy Johnson Crow's first #52Ancestors prompt of 2023. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Write Family History Now, Add or Change Later


Thinking about writing your family history? There's no time like the present. Anything you write will be a real gift to your family and to future generations, whether you write about a special family photo or trace the life of a matriarch or patriarch.

If all you have is a photo and the names of some or all of those pictured, you've got enough to make a good start. The goal is to write as much as you know about who, what, when, where, why, and how. Today, you may only know "who" and "when" but tomorrow, when you discover "where" or "when," you can add that to your write-up or make corrections.

Always ask family members for help. Many times, cousins can identify people we've never seen or met. Photos can also trigger recall of a family story that adds color and personality to the family history.

Here's a photo taken at the NYC wedding of my parents, Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981) and Harold Burk (1909-1978). When I was writing about their courtship and marriage, I asked several cousins to help identify the wedding guests. Unfortunately, we identified only four of my mother's maternal aunts and uncles shown here. Still, I kept moving ahead with my write-up.

A few weeks later, one cousin suddenly remembered the name of the lady seated fourth from the right. Based on this new info, I located the lady's son and ultimately connected his branch to my great-grandma's family tree in Hungary. Because of my cousin's memory, I now have more names, relationships, and stories to add to my family history.

Never give up! Eventually, we identified the last two "unknowns" in this photo as more cousins on my mother's side.

Please, do the "write" thing for the sake of future generations. There's no time like the present for starting on this gift to the descendants of our ancestors.

NOTE: This is part of my series about writing family history:

Friday, October 9, 2020

Why I Love Bite-Sized Family History Projects


Bite-sized family history projects are more like a sprint than a marathon--and that's what makes them so practical and doable.

Here's why I love bite-sized family history projects:

  • They don't drag on and on forever. Researching and writing an entire family history can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Rather than spending many months or even years on one big project, I ease my way into family history by planning, researching, and creating each bite-sized story in a matter of weeks. 
  • My enthusiasm remains high when I limit my focus. Focusing on only one or two ancestors, one event (like a wedding,) or one heirloom motivates me to stay engaged for the limited time needed to complete the project.
  • Focusing sets the direction and scope. I have a clearer idea of what I'm looking for when conducting genealogical research on just one ancestor or a couple. I also know the time-frame when exploring background issues to put their lives into context for my audience, the next generation (and beyond).
  • Smaller projects allow for flexibility and creativity. Do I want to tell the story through a colorful illustrated booklet? A slick photo book? A video featuring family photos and narration by an older cousin? Whatever the final result is, bite-sized projects can be assembled into larger blocks later on.
  • The audience will have something now. It's never too soon to get relatives interested in the family's past. A bite-sized project eases them into learning about ancestors little by little, just as it eases me into telling the stories little by little. 

My newest bite-sized family history project is approaching the finish line: A photo-studded booklet about my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Schwartz, 1919-2001). 

The excerpt at top shows part of a page telling about my Auntie Dorothy's experiences in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. She was on board the RMS Aquitania as the oceanliner-turned-troop ship made its way from New York City to Scotland, with the constant fear of German submarine attack anywhere in the Atlantic. Now that's a story the next generation doesn't know and will be astonished to hear!

"Newest" is the #52Ancestors prompt for week 41. Only 11 more weekly prompts in 2020. This is one of my Genealogy Blog Party links for December, 2020!

NOTE: My newest presentation, "Bring Family History Alive in Bite-Sized Projects," will debut at the all-virtual New England Regional Genealogical Conference in April. More event details available soon!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Robert Larimer, Born and Died in July

One of the notable July births and deaths in my husband's family is that of Robert Larimer. He was born on July 15, 1792 and died on July 30, 1850, at the age of 58. Robert was the oldest son of hubby's 4th great-grandparents, Isaac Larimer (1771-1823) and Elizabeth Woods Larimer (1773-1851).

Both Robert and his father Isaac, then living in Fairfield county, Ohio, enlisted to fight for the United States in the War of 1812.  According to the History of Ohio, Isaac enlisted in Capt. George Sanderson's Company of Ohio Militia and was captured in Detroit. As a militiaman (not a regular US Army soldier), Isaac was paroled to return home and permitted to keep his sword, which became a treasured heirloom in the Larimer family for generations.

According to a June, 1921 letter to the newspaper written by Robert's nephew, Aaron Work (1837-1924), both Robert and Isaac Larimer were with General Hull's division of the US Army at Detroit. The letter explains that when "the old Tory" (meaning Hull) surrendered to the British, Robert was also paroled but instead of going home, he fought for the US side until the war ended in 1815.


Military service in the War of 1812 entitled Robert to land bounty--which he used to acquire land in Ohio in September, 1834, for his growing family.

By the way, Robert's brother, John Larimer (1794-1843), served in the War of 1812 as a "90-day man," according to his nephew Aaron Work. Both John and his brother Robert are buried in Eldridge Cemetery, Middlebury, Elkhart county, Indiana.

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.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Family History Month: Start Writing About Ancestors Now!

Family History Month is a good time to start writing about our ancestors. Genealogy research is never complete, in my humble opinion, but we can make headway on writing about family history if we focus.

This is not about the big picture--it's about sharing one specific aspect of our family's past with relatives and descendants. Not a formal genealogy, but something that conveys both the facts and the human face of our ancestors.

Here are some quick tips to prepare:
  • Choose one of the above to focus on. Maybe you want to write about your maternal grandparents or about a set of siblings in your father's family. Or you have an heirloom, like the ceramic zebras above, created by my late mother-in-law, with a backstory of interest to children and grandchildren.
  • Gather your info (documents, photos, etc.) and your memories.
  • Write bullet points of what you currently know. 
  • Rearrange the bullets into a logical organization (chronological order, for instance).
  • Make notes about each bullet and also jot notes about what you want to double-check or ask other relatives.
  • Create a quick timeline if it will help guide you through the story and help readers understand what happened when. Or use a timeline as the basis for writing about a couple or an event.
Now . . . start anywhere in the story and write. Really, it doesn't matter where you begin to write because you can move sentences and paragraphs around after you get words on paper.

If you like, pick a detail that seems particularly dramatic or interesting, write a few sentences, and then fill in the story around it. Every family had high points, low points, times of happiness and times of sorrow. Try to tell the story to show who these ancestors were, beyond mere facts of birth-marriage-death dates. The important thing is to share what you know now.

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!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Recap of "Apres Vous" #Genchat Discussion Q2

#Genchat discussion "Apres Vous" question #2

"Apres Vous" - What Happens to Your Family History Materials?

Lots of activity on Twitter during this recent #Genchat two-day conversation about what happens to our family history after we join our ancestors!

The answers to question #2, summarized and listed below, are starting points to keep in mind as you approach your own decisions about keeping family history safe "apres vous."

Q2: How can you organize your family history collection now, with future generations in mind? Participants suggested:
  • Have information in one place, make it easy to understand (don't use your own shorthand and expect heirs to understand it).
  • Consider putting documents into binders, organized and with tables of contents, to keep things together and safe. 
  • Another idea is to use archival boxes, organized and with contents pages as a "finding aid" for the collection.
  • Use a consistent organization system for paper and digital information.
  • Weed out unimportant "junk" so collection is not a burden to heirs. This may help keep entire collection out of the trash later on.
  • Consider whether your organizational system is "self-explanatory" to next generation.
  • Label everything, identify people in photos, and indicate which side of the family tree your photos belong to.
  • Put photos and originals into archival sleeves. Label all!
  • Write about each heirloom, describe it, whose it was, the context, why it is treasured, how it came into the family and into your possession.
  • Create a "treasure map" so heirs know what is where.
  • Inform family of what other heirlooms/photos are in the hands of other relatives and/or institutions.
  • Write the year in four digits, 3/2/2020 instead of 3/2/20, for clarity.
Many thanks to Christine McCloud (@geneapleau) and Liam "Sir Leprachaun Rabbit" (@leprchaunrabbit) for hosting lively #genchat conversations every other Friday. It was a privilege to be involved in the "Apres Vous" discussion!

You can drop in and follow the conversation or add your thoughts during #genchat every other Friday. See the schedule and more information here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Talented Tuesday: Edgar James Wood and the Hermit Club

My late dad-in-law Edgar James Wood (1903-1986) was a talented musician. He began taking piano lessons in his early teens, and by the time he was in college at Tufts during the Roaring Twenties, he was financing his tuition by playing in jazz bands.

More than once, Ed played his way across the Atlantic and toured Europe with "American jazz bands" during summers between college semesters (see photos at right and below).
After he married Marian McClure and had a family, he was an insurance adjustor by day. By night, Ed was a professional piano player and, sometimes, a composer.

One of his favorite haunts at home in Cleveland was the Hermit Club, where he was a long-time member. The club is devoted to the performing arts and I know from Ed's diaries that he considered it a special honor to be admitted to membership.

Ed and his family enjoyed meals and special events at the Hermit Club for many a year. At top, the ashtray Ed kept as a remembrance of all the happy times at the Hermit Club--now a family heirloom with warm memories of Ed's piano talent.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

His and Her Heirlooms from When We Were Born

With the Covid-19 pandemic keeping us inside since mid-March, I've been documenting family history by writing about heirlooms that will be passed to the next generation.
Wally's baby book and silver porringer

Today is a look at keepsakes from when my husband and I were born.

His: Baby Book and Silver Porringer

My late mother-in-law (Marian Jane McClure
Wood) was given a small baby book to record milestones in the life of her first-born child, my wonderful hubby.

Shown here is the baby book alongside a silver porringer, engraved with baby's initials (WEW). Although the book contains the names of several dozen well-wishers who gave baby gifts, this silver porringer isn't listed. Nor is it listed as a gift for "baby's first Christmas." Although we don't know who presented it to my husband, it's still a treasured heirloom.

The baby book turned out to be a bonanza for my family-history research. In it are the names of many people identified by family relationship, such as "Aunt Nellie Kirby" and "Grandparents McClure." Over the years, as I've fleshed out the family tree, I've recognized other gift-givers as great aunts/uncles and cousins.

By correlating the book with other sources (such as Census records and the diaries of my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood), I've confirmed who's who in the family's inner circle, and also narrowed down dates for the death of people who don't appear.

Hers: Silver Napkin Ring
Marian's silver napkin ring from the Farkas Family Tree

In my mother's Farkas Family Tree association, the traditional baby gift was a silver napkin ring.

On one side was engraved the baby's initials (mine is shown here).

The other side was engraved with the birth date and "Farkas Family Tree."

No matter whether a baby was a boy or a girl, the Farkas Family Tree bestowed this napkin ring, personalized for each child.

Because I have the Farkas Family Tree meeting minutes from 1933-1964, I know that controversy erupted when the mother of a baby boy asked whether the gift might be something other than a napkin ring. After heated discussion during a family meeting, the mother was out-voted.

According to the minutes, this aunt asked for reconsideration several times at meetings over the years, only to be voted down every time.

Tradition won out, and all babies in the family continued to receive silver napkin rings. That's part of the legacy I'm sharing with my heirs along with this keepsake.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Story of a Well-Used Heirloom: Dad's Pinochle Cards

Dad (Harold D. Burk, 1909-1978) was born 112 years ago this month in New York City, older son of immigrant parents Isaac Burk (1882-1943) and Henrietta Mahler Burk (1881-1954).

Growing up, he played stoop ball and stickball outside his Manhattan apartment building. With friends, he also played a remarkably dangerous game of jumping between tenement rooftops. How did he survive? Even he seemed amazed, talking about it to me many decades later.

During my childhood, Dad and his brother and two brothers-in-law would gather around a card table and play pinochle after a holiday meal. The men laughed and chatted as they played a fairly cut-throat version of pinochle, sipping beer and keeping score. 

Maybe they played for pennies or nickels, and all shook hands with a warm sense of bon homie when they settled up. After every game, Dad would carefully tamp the cards in place and store them in their plastic case (shown above).

Remembering Dad and keeping his beloved pinochle set safe for future generations, along with these memories! 

--This is my week #38 entry about "fun and games" for Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestor series.