Hello Faith Sisters Scrappers! Welcome to March’s edition of the monthly Heritage Challenge which I (Forget-Me-Nots by Theresa Lindamood), hostess. New challenges begin on the 2nd Thursday of the month and you can see past participants in the gallery. Each month we will focus on a different aspect of our heritage and telling our family story. These challenges fit hand and glove with the My Lifetime Story Challenge. Some of them focus on your personally, while others focus on your extended family and ancestors. It is my goal to help you think outside the box and get journaling and scrapping the important “stuff” that really tells the stories of our lives. A heritage layout doesn’t have to be covered in lace and Victorian elements. What makes the layout “heritage” is the topic. Please do not put off documenting your family’s story because it is not completely organized or you do not have the perfect kit. Do it in bits and pieces and “get it done”. You can always change pages later, especially if you are doing it digitally. That is okay – we like scrapbooking, don’t we?
When it comes to March, a lot of people “think green” and focus on St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish come out of the wood work, even if they are not truly Irish! Well, I am going to focus on something different this month, but still related. I am challenging you to scrapbook about your countries of origin and/or ethnicity. If your family immigrated, where did they come from? How did they get there? Where did they go? Who went? How did they travel? Why did they go? What happened on their journey or when they arrived? How has this influenced your family today?
For some of you this could be a single page and for others it could be an entire book. Maybe your family did not immigrate and has always lived in one country or area. This is part of your story too. In this case you can document how long your family has been in the country. Perhaps they thought about immigrating but did not – include this story too. What does your family love about your country and culture? Show what you love about your homeland.
Finding out this information could be difficult but not impossible. Look first in your own home or family. A good bit of advice is to always talk to the oldest people in your family. They will not always be there to consult, so do not put this off. Perhaps they had conversations with some of your ancestors or they heard or participated in conversations about the things that have happened in the past. Anecdotal information is a great place to start, but do not stop there. Find documentation to “prove” all you family stories. Sometimes they are true and sometimes they are not. For instance, my Hopkins family swore they came on the Mayflower to America. In my research I proved otherwise. Many were not happy with that fact even though they were descended from some fascinating early American leaders and pioneers. Other facts I was able to prove, like the stories of Mary Belitz Hopkins coming on a ship from Germany as a little girl.
How do you prove these family stories? Document them with official records, newspaper clippings, county histories and other historical and biographical resources. With the exception of records lost via fire, natural disaster and wars, and a few people who avoided government contact, most people can be traced through some type of government documentation. Nearly every country has immigrant records and some type of naturalization and citizenship process. I am not an expert on each country’s process and this might be a good thing to research at Family Search
Remember to check with your family to see if they have copies of citizenship papers, letters from the old country or other memorabilia that might leave some clues.
For my family who came from Sweden, they kept copies of their ship contract, papers that were filled out for my great, great Grandpa, recommending his value as a worker and copies of his citizenship papers, renouncing loyalty to the King of Sweden and Norway. Dozens of personal letters from Sweden along with Sweden’s excellent record keeping, made tracing this line easy. Most people don’t have this though and I have found it most difficult tracing my Polish and Slovakian lines. They are genealogical brick walls where my family seemingly came from nowhere!
Researching in the U.S., I found some of the information for my family on marriage records, census sheets and indices for filing for naturalization. Some of the things I found frustrating were lack of specific information (name of city or village of origin) and the lack of filed papers on women, who were usually “assumed” to be included along with their husbands.
Even if you are unable to prove your family’s stories, document what you have, noting that they have not been proven, and pass on as much as you have. The next generation can continue the research. Not knowing the details does not take away the specialness of who you are and where you came from.
The challenge this month will be to document in some way, the heritage of your family through a country of origin, immigration journey, or in general about your family’s ethnicity. This could include photos and documents of generations past or like the “All American” layout above, could include modern photos and information showing how your family lives in that heritage today. Please post your layout in the Challenge Gallery,
as well as posting in the Challenge Forum.
Each month I give a posting bonus, and this month, if you participate and post in the gallery and forum, I will give you this:
Thank you for making it to the end of my very long post! I look forward to seeing what you come up with and reading your stories!