Friday, June 22, 2012

Saving Letters

 Letters and postcards saved in a loose-leaf binder

Y you’ve heard of saving stamps? Well, saved letters can be even more important to a family historian. My grandmother saved my mother’s letters from the time she left home until the very day she died. Those letters tell of my mother’s daily life, and more importantly, they showcase her attitudes. Grandma had no way of knowing how important those eleven years worth of letters would be.
            Another reason to save at least a few letters is for the sampling of a loved one’s handwriting. For some reason, we love to see how people write. There are even those who say handwriting can give the beholder clues about the writer’s personality.
            Letters often contain more personal information than journals. Grandma told all in her letters—more than you wanted to know, if you know what I mean—and for that reason were tossed out. (This is why they should have been kept.) In her journals she kept laundry lists of what she and grandpa did, who came to visit, what they ate, where they went, and how they got from one place to another. There’s little mention of how she ever felt about anything, and there are no circumstantial details. Because she was writing to herself, she even failed to mention such things as the name of her “dearest friend” who died. (Grandpa)
            Now we have email instead of handwritten letters, and while email doesn’t give us a handwriting sample, it is still as good as a letter in many respects.
            You can save emails in a computer file to glean one day for history, or you can save print-outs of emails in loose-leaf binders.
n  Just another idea for preparing personal and family history.

DNA Samples

                      Saved hair samples in Mother’s book

T here is no way to save samples of DNA in a printed family history book. But with all of the amazing things our scientific world can do today with DNA, saving a strand or two of hair in a safe place could be a good idea. The mention and whereabouts of saved DNA could be put in the printed history.
            In the old days, strands of hair of a loved one were often saved in a locket for sentimental purposes.
            In my mother’s scrapbook, she saved strands of hair from all of her children; a practice she learned from her progenitors.
            DNA tests are now being done to either link people to, or rule them out of, the family line in genealogy. Who knows what else DNA may be used for in the future?
            Perhaps hair samples of each family member could be put into small labeled envelopes or baggies and saved in the back of the genealogy book, Bible, or in a fireproof safe or lock-box.
            Our family reunion is coming up. That would be a good time to take along a pair of scissors, a permanent pen, and a pile of envelopes. Look out everyone, here I come!