My great grandpa Peter Paul Gulling and my great grandma Emma (Trader) Gulling
I've decided that 2017 is the year to get some important projects done. Like many of my friends, I have LOTS of scrapbooking to do but at this time I especially want to focus on heritage albums, a new endeavor for me. I've actually been doing some prep for this project since I brought home boxes and boxes of photos from my parents' and grandparents' houses a few years back. But now is the time to get those photos out of the boxes and into albums that can be enjoyed!
I have already sorted my heritage photos into boxes for each side of the family/family member (click HERE for that project).
Tubs of photos, organized in folders
I have also created "life binders" for important documents related to my grandparents (diplomas, birth certificates, etc.) - click HERE for a post about that. I also have a box of very old snapshots from my dad's side of the family that will eventually make their way into the albums.
Life binders for my grandparents
I gathered all of that stuff together to start planning this first heritage scrapbook. My plan has always been to transfer those "raw materials" into scrapbooks and as I looked through everything, I could see that the prep I've done is going to make that task much easier.
I decided to start by organizing the heritage album(s) into sections -- one for my paternal grandpa's family, one for my grandma's family, and a final section for their married life. I sorted the main photos into those three piles then slipped them into temporary sleeves in a scrapbook, separating the sections with dividers.
As soon as I started, I could see that I was going to need more information to create this album -- I'm terrible with names and dates! Thank goodness my late grandma came to the rescue for me -- I knew that her genealogy albums would have all the information I need. But I soon discovered that my heritage album project just got a whole lot bigger! :)
My grandma, who passed away at age 102, was the keeper of family history. Over the years, she had compiled genealogy binders with meticulously handwritten details for both sides of my dad's family. Grandma and I talked about her genealogy records often and since she knew I was interested in the subject, she told me I could have all of her binders when she died. Of all the gifts she could have given me, this one is absolutely the most precious.
But in later years, Grandma hadn't kept up with filing her genealogy information. In retrospect, I should have helped her get it organized while she was still alive. There were letters from far-flung relatives and newspaper clippings which hadn't made it into her system. Pages had fallen out of her binders and family information was mixed up. Her pages were not numbered and I couldn't figure out her system. I could see that I would have to get her binders into at least some semblance of order before I could create this scrapbook.
As I tried to decipher the way she had organized her binders, I began digging through her boxes of genealogy records. There I discovered a very old family history notebook compiled in 1939. It was falling apart but the pages were numbered, making it easy to re-assemble. I suddenly realized that Grandma had copied that notebook and used it as the "structure" for her genealogy binders! Each family has its own series of pages, and Grandma added details to those pages through her clippings, photos, and other documents to fill out each family's history.
The most important page of the book is this one, which lists my great great grandparents' 12 children. Each child has a set of pages detailing marriages, offspring, and deaths. This was the key to Grandma's system: Her binder pages were to go in this order. YIPPEE!
Since this is my "master" list, it's going to be handled a lot while I work on this project so I need to keep those pages safe. I put them in protective sleeves and clipped them into a sturdy binder.
When I first brought Grandma's binders home, I attended a genealogy class and asked how to organize her information. The instructor suggested using extra-wide divider tabs for each family. At that time, I didn't even know if I could get that far, but as soon as I discovered the master book, I could see my way through the forest! I created a separate tab for each of the 12 children in my great great grandparents' family, my great grandfather being one of them.
I matched up Grandma's information to the master book and started assembling her "new" genealogy album. The tabs make all the difference! Now it's super easy to locate information by sibling.
Grandma's binder contains many, many clippings which eventually should be copied onto acid-free paper. But for now I'll settle for getting them in the proper order.
In going through these binders, I found all sorts of very cool stuff, such as my great grandparents' marriage certificate, my grandma's diploma, and copies of my great great grandfather's military enlistment papers. For someone who is interested in family history, Grandma's binders are a real treasure. I am absolutely thrilled to have them...especially now that I can make sense of them! :)
Grandma's research was all done the old fashioned way so I will use online resources to add detail to her family records. It appears that we have many extended family members who have done research so it's just a matter of tapping into that information.
So my plan is to incorporate pieces of grandma's genealogy binders into my heritage scrapbooks. A good example is this family tree which traces my grandpa's family back to the 1600's in France. When I was studying in France during college, my parents came to visit and I took them to a cemetery where some of our relatives are buried. I have photos from that cemetery visit which will be a nice addition to the album.
So stay tuned for more on what promises to be a fun project! Now that I have my reference materials more organized, I can start this heritage scrapbook with confidence. At the same time, I have so much to learn that I feel like I'm on a voyage of discovery. I'm excited to get started!