Feb 142012

Week #7 – Historical Documents: Which historical document in your possession are you happy to have? How did you acquire this item? What does it reveal about your ancestors? (Thanks to Amy Coffin and Thomas MacEntee.)

I must begin with an admission.  
I am not a repository for historical documents.  I am not a collector of historical documents.  I have very few historical documents in my possession and most of those relate to my immediate family.  When I have access to historical documents, I want to have them in my possession only long enough to scan and digitize them.  Then they go back to their rightful owners.  I am also taking the same approach to my own documents which someday might be considered “historical” — I digitize them and enter the digital copy into our private Research Wiki. I then back-up those copies on my hard drive, an external hard drive, a memory stick, and  in the cloud.  I am overdue for putting the digital copies of the records of my wife and me on disk to give to my children.  Fortunately, my son is my genealogy research partner so he has the same access as I do to our online private Research Wiki.

So, the truth is that I am not genuinely happy to have any historical documents in my possession.  That admission may get my genealogy hobbyist credentials revoked, but I will continue to put my efforts into preserving and documenting records, not documents.

With that in mind, my re-framing of this week’s question is:  Which historical document was I happy to have in my possession, if only for a brief time?   The answer to that question is:  the letter from Eduard Schaar to his nephew, George H. Mieding.  I had possession of that letter for a Summer many years ago (perhaps, 1968).  It took me the whole Summer to transcribe (from Old German script to modern German) and translate (from German to English) the letter.  At the time, the letter was in the possession of my Grandmother Brenner (George’s daughter – Grace Ada Mieding).  Upon my grandmother’s death, the letter was passed on to my aunt (grandmother’s daughter); and now to her daughter.  I could have access to the letter again if I desired.  Instead, I may just ask my cousin to take new images of the letter, since I did not have access to very good equipment in 1968 when I did the translation.  Two previous posts (“Mein lieber neffe Eduard – Transcribing and Translating”  and  “Mein lieber neffe Eduard – Extracting Information”) describe the letter’s contents and the process of transcribing and translating.

  One Response to “Abundant Genealogy — Week 7”

  1. I like your style. I don't like a lot of paper, either. :)

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