Friday, May 21, 2010

Going Cross-eyed...But Finding Lost Stories

Today I spent six hours in the archives of the Central Bureau for Genealogy transcribing letters and other documents for one of my ancestors, so all I'm seeing right now is letters slanted in a particular handwriting dancing in front of my eyes.

The Wesselo line, which is part of my paternal grandmother's line has been researched already and I had thought that I would just check the information that was already there, which was even more simple because all the information was supposed to be in one place: the Wesselo Family Archive at the Central Bureau for Genealogy and the published genealogy, also available in the library of the Central Bureau for Genealogy.

Yeah, maybe not so easy after all. Fitst of all, the book doesn't have any sources in it, so while it's a very pretty tree, it can't be verified. Luckily, there is still the Wesselo Family Archive, which should have all the documents on which the book was based. And it's true, there are a lot of documents in there, but there are many vital documents not present. So, I have to look them up seperately.

What I did find was scores and scores of interesting, story-telling sourced like letters and newspaper articles about the Wesselo family members. The book, and the site of a genealogy cousin that shares the Wesselo and Bolle ancestors with me, do not make any mention of this at all. They just list the birth, marriage and death dates, all marriages and the children. Also, they list the professions, very briefly. Sometimes it is listed where and when a person was burried. But where are the stories? Whole lives can be found in the letters and other documents, memories written down by the persons themselves, specifically for their descendants! Why aren't their stories being told?

So, what was supposed to be an 'easy' line to resreach, because it was just verifying for a large part, just became a monster job of transcribing, seeking out some additional records that are mentioned but not included in the Family Archive, and writing biographies. Why? Because their stories deserve to be told! The material is all there!

So, today I started with the oldest uncle of my grandmother for which there was material in the archive, and I started transcribing the letters he sent to his brother, and also the life story he wrote down specifically intended to go into the archive, as asked by the one who put the genealogy together. I'm not even half-way through transcribing his material, but it is very rewarding and I am finding gems of stories in these letters and other documents. What a shame they have never been told before! But do not fear, another day or two at the archive and I can begin telling his story!


  1. This is an amazing amount of valuable historical documents regarding a branch of your family. All of the old letters and newspaper articles are extremely valuable for your family history. I wish you luck transcribing the documents.

  2. Yes, it's indeed an amazing amount of information. I transcribed three letters that where just about the funeral of his mother, so now I feel like I was there myself. It's a lot of work transcribing everything, but so worth it!