11 January 2013

Address books are a form of family history -- at least the old-fashioned "print" ones!

A Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) post titled Address book is a family history, bound by tradition, by Will Kenny, caught my eye and opened my eyes!

Unknown to me, I had, in a way, been keeping a mini family history in my address book.  See, I am one of those people, who, though uses the “contacts” element of Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, still keeps an old-fashioned address book at Christmas time.

Every since I have been doing Christmas cards, I’ve used my address book. Or, I should say books.  I think I’m on my 3rd one now (started December 1998 as noticed on the flyleaf) and I have put the others into “memory boxes” over the years.  Basically, after about 15 years, the typical address book has so many cross-outs and white outs and a run on list of years where cards were sent/received as to become a bit unworkable.

I’ve often hoped that maybe in the future, a descendant will open the saved boxes and check out my scribbles, including those of the old address books!

When I read Will’s article, a light bulb went off!  When I look through my current address book (not the electronic kind) you can see where I have noted those who died, those who were born,  those who have moved and those whom I’ve stopped sending Christmas cards to.  

It’s kind of nice to know that one of my habit’s actually benefits my genealogical and family history research!

Do you have some gems of information hidden in your or an ancestors “print” address book?

Is your address book, whether print or electronic, a form of mini family history?

Editor’s Note: All pictured entries are for those who are deceased relatives.  I’ve done this in order to protect the privacy of those who are still living and listed in my address book.

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  1. My grandmother kept lots of birth and death dates in her address book. I even found she had written her third husband's birthplace in Italy inside the front cover. Since he'd changed his name, that clue broke open his Italian lineage and helped me identify several descendants. You never know what you'll find.

  2. That is so neat to hear. I kick myself that I didn't snag my mother's address book when she died ... as, unfortunately, a few months later all of her personal papers and photos disappeared!

  3. Definitely keep old family address books. I have my mother's book and have connected to a distant cousin by sending a Christmas card to an elderly relative and heard back from their neighbor that she and her husband were deceased. But, the neighbor was their Executor, and wondered if I would like a box of family photos as their grandchildren did not want them.
    Well, YES, I want them. Received large box of their family photos and much information. So tracked down a cousin using the information.