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Genealogy and Generations

 As I mentioned in an earlier post, it has been an odd year for me so far.  After my knee replacement surgery in February, I embarked on a project that I had been avoiding for - cough, cough - years.  Here's what I started with. 
 

 Over the past few years my older sister and I had been pulling together any and all information we had from our parents and aunts and uncles.  We had photos, documents, certificates - all kinds of memorabilia - that needed to be pulled together and put into some coherent order.  We did a fair amount of research also on Ancestry.com, although it was sometimes agonizingly frustrating when there were gaps in the information available. 

The sad part is that we waited too long; my parents and all but two uncles had passed on by the time we started the project. How many times I wished I could sit down with my Mom and ask questions about the generations before us! Also, we know little beyond our grandparents since both sets of grandparents came to the United States through Ellis Island when they were teens and as far as I know never returned to the home country, Poland. I'm afraid that tracing my ancestors would require either a lot of money and/or a trip to Poland to see what I could find.  And I have been told that since Poland has been overrun by other countries so often and considering its history during World War II, it's possible that records may have been destroyed and gone forever.  I may never know now. 

So for now I had to work with what I had.  And considering the size of my condo, I knew that once I pulled all that stuff out I would have to finish it because I didn't have enough room to leave it out and work on it off and on.


 

Three months later ... two albums ... 10 lbs. each ...

One album covers my grandparents and all 12 aunts and uncles. The second album covers my parents and their children.


 (Note: Since I have a very large family and it would be impossible for me to get permissions from everyone to use family names, I'm purposely blanking out some names to avoid problems.)

 

The first page of my parents' album has one of my favorite quotes. I have had this quote for at least 10 years and unfortunately I have lost the author's name.
 
I used a genealogy program to input all the information we had as well as the dates and other information we found through research.  That allowed me to print family trees to include throughout the albums.

Both of my parents were born in 1912, both had six siblings, and both lost one sibling at an early age due to influenza or diphtheria epidemics.  These two photos are the only ones in existence that are even close to being family photos, Dad's family on the left and Mom and some of her siblings on the right.


Here's Mom's 8th grade graduation photo, and one of her school papers.
Mom was a musician and in her 20s she and one of her brothers formed a musical group called the All Star Seven that played for weddings and other occasions locally in Pennsylvania.
My parents married in 1936 and soon started a family.
Dad worked in the coal mines in Pennsylvania but it was hard, dirty work so the family eventually moved to Michigan for better work and opportunities.  I was the fifth child born, the first one in Michigan.

One historical period that continues to fascinate me is World War II.  My Dad joined the Army at 18 and was stationed in the Panama Canal as part of a mounted Division. Dad re-enlisted once but by the time WWII came around he already had five children so he served instead in the Civilian Defense Corps.

Several of my uncles, however, served in World War II.  Thankfully, they all came home but not without wounds, either physical or psychological. 
Thank goodness my Mom was a saver.  We have several pieces of V-Mail that my uncles sent home, as well as cartoons, jokes, newspaper articles, etc.  My older brother also took the time to write down his recollections of conversations he had with my uncles about their war service.  All of that is included in the albums.



Mom even saved our War Ration books.


I have a few photos that I cannot identify, and this is one of them.  I think I know who he is - one of my great uncles - but I can't be positive.  Great photo, though!

 

 There's obviously much more in the albums.  I'm so relieved that I finally put this all together - it was quite a mind boggling experience.  Now I can tweak as necessary, knowing that I have it all organized in one place. 

Have you undertaken a project like this for your family?  How did you do, and what were your challenges? 

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