Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday Serendipity (February 3, 2018)

Saturday Serendipity recomends the following reads for this weekend .  .  . 

1.  The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, has a very nice (and restrained) post about how Ancestry got caught by a very conscientous and diligent user when they issued their new Terms of Service. You can read Judy's post here.  [IMHO Ancestry bears watching as I still recall their switcheroo with their DNA testing and the destruction of samples.]               

2.  It is always good to try to stay abreast of copyright law and lawyer James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog provides a nice post about the subject for genealogists and, most importantly, supplies the link to a publication of the Cornell University Library -- the "Copyright Information Center."  Have a read here and get the links James supplies.      

3.  If you live in New Hampshire or New England (or have roots there) and you are not aware of the Genealogy and Local History post that Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy provides on a monthly basis, you should check out her helpful posts each month.  This week she posted her comprehensive list of February genealogy and history-related events. You can see the list of notices here and make a note to check back each month.               
4.  Are you a fan of the artist Georgia Totto O'Keefe? If you are, then you should check out the Groundhog Day post by Barbara Poole of Life From the Roots blog. If you are not a fan (yet), you probably will be after you look at Barbara's post.  Barbara, as usual, takes us on a beautiful photo journey. This time it is to the recent exhibit about O'keefe and her work at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts. You can read the post here and learn more about Barbara's 4th cousin once removed -- also known as Georgia O'Keefe.      

5.  Marian Wood of Climbing My Family Tree blog, did a test drive on Ancestry's new "We Remember" site. If you are thinking of trying it also, you should read Marian's review here.    

6.  As the popularity of DNA testing soars, it is good to keep a few things in mind about what such tests can give you.  Amy Johnson Crow on her eponymous blog posted "5 Things You Need to Kow About DNA Testing for Genealogy." It is a quick reminder of the basics on what DNA testing does and you can read it here.  

7.  Nancy Messier of My Ancestors and Me blog posted a very helpful piece for those who may have a need to order birth or death certificates from the U.K. If this is a need you have for your genealogy research, then you should read Nancy's post here
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Copyright 2018, John D. Tew
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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday Serendipity (January 27, 2018)

Following an absence of two weeks while I worked on an article for Rhode Island Roots, the journal of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society (RIGS),  Saturday Serendipity returns this week with the following recommendations .  .  . 

1.  For Mayflower descendants from John Billington, Stephen Hopkins, or John Alden, NEHGS just announced this week that the fifth generation descendants from these passengers have been added to the database project in cooperation with the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.  You can read more about the project and the database through the American Ancestors website here.                

2.  The Director of the Great Migration Study Project, Robert Charles Anderson, is seeking help in finding a particular book published as a limited edition in England in 1999. The book is "The History of the Clinton Barony, 1299 - 1999," by Anne Austin. Mr. Anderson needs to consult it for his forthcoming book "Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England" and he cannot find it in any U.S. library or via Amazon. If you have the book or could help him get access to a copy for his research, contact Lynn Betlock, editor of The Weekly Genealogist newsletter of NEHGS using the subject line "History of the Clinton Barony (TWG)."   

3.  During the most recent hiatus from Saturday Serendipity, I missed recommending an interesting post from Marian Wood of Climbing My Family Tree blog. I now recommend belatedly the intriguingly titled post, "Chicken Post or Egg Post." To find out why it is interesting and just what the title means, you will have to go here and read it.              
4.  James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog posted another interesting and thought-provoking piece this week -- "Where is Genealogy Technologically-wise?"  Have a read here.

5.  I use Family Tree Maker as a backup to my Ancestry trees and so I always have a copy of my research residing on my own computer and not just in the Ancestry cloud. Since I run an iMac I got the much delayed, but eagerly awaited, FTM 2017 for Mac as soon as it finally became available. But I have not delved into the use of the new color coding feature (although I saw Russ Worthington of Family Tree Maker User blog discussing it at the FTM presentation booth at NERGC 2017 this past April). During this most recent hiatus, Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky blog wrote about how she dove right in to the color coding feature when she got her FTM 2017 for Mac -- and about the surprising result it led her to.  If you use FTM 2017 and, like me, have not tried color coding yet, you too should read Elizabeth's "Tuesday Tip ~ Family Tree Maker Color-Coding" by going here.

6.  I have mentioned previously on this blog a weird and horrific New England disaster known as the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. Last week (January 15th) was one year shy of the 100th anniversary of the freakish disaster that took place in Boston. If you have never heard of this awful event, you can learn more about it and see photographs of the aftermath here

7.  So everyone knows that the Bubonic Plague killed millions of people during various outbreaks that happened repeatedly over 500 years (and occasionally still happens), right? And everyone knows that the cause of the rapid spread of the killer disease was . . . RATS, right? Well, it turns out this might not be the case exactly. Scientists have been modleing the usual rat/flea transmission data and it turns out the rodent model does not match historical death rates. Hmmmm. Read here to find out what new data suggests as a perhaps more likely transmission vehicle.

8.  Amy Johnson Crow posted an interesting and useful piece about how to find an ancestors church. You can read the post here.               
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Copyright 2018, John D. Tew
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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Saturday Serendipity (January 6, 2018)

Following a slight hiatus last week to celebrate the New Year (and mark my blogiversary on New Year's Eve), Saturday Serendipity returns this week with the following reading recommendations .  .  . 

1.  If you are a member of NEHGS (New England Historic Genealogical Society) and receive their quarterly magazine, American Ancestors, in hard copy or online, then you should be sure to read "How I Lost My Alcock, Bradfield & Whitehead Ancestors" by Patricia Law Hatcher in the most recent issue, vol. 18, no. 4 Winter 2018.  The article is a well-written example of how even very experienced genealogists can take a wrong turn and how diligence and devotion to "getting it right" results in both gains and losses.  [If you do not belong to NEHGS, consider joining and in the meantime see if your local library has a copy of American Ancestors.  More than New England is covered by American Ancestors!]               

2.  I do not tweet and never have. Even at the doubled length of 280 characters, I tend to think of Twitter as a very flawed means of communication that is degrading the use of our immeasurably rich language. I also have wondered if and how the increasingly never-ending accumulation of tweets would ever be worthy or capable of being captured for future generations.  It seems that the Library of Congress has also spent energy wondering the same thing and they have arrived at a decision. Read at Smithsonian Magazine online why the LOC has concluded that tweets have become too numerous and too long and so only tweets of "historic value" will be saved. One must wonder what the criteria will be for historically valuable tweets and -- for those genealogists who do tweet -- what tweets would be worth preserving as part of a genealogy.

3.  The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS mentioned a very interesting DNA story this week that was caught on CNN. Two men who have been friends for 60 years made an amazing discovery when one of them began using DNA tests to search for his biological father. Read the full story here.          
4.  James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog has posted Part Three in his series "From Whence and to Thither -- Understanding Migration Patterns" here.  This is an interesting and informative mini-series and you can access Part One here and Part Two here.             
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Copyright 2018, John D. Tew
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday Serendipity (December 23, 2017)

Below are just a few recommended reads for this weekend .  .  . 

1.  Among the "Stories of Interest" mentioned by NEHGS in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter this week is an article about the things that folks placed on Christmas trees as decorations of old.  Family traditions around holiday time have always fascinated me (from the dinner fare, to decorations, to timing -- such as when to put up the tree or if Santa brought I and decorated it -- and I have been know to often ask the questions at social gatherings to learn how other folks celebrate.  With that in mind you should have a look at this article if the subject fascinates you too.               

2.  Recently I blogged here about the genealogical value of holiday newsletters.  Usually such letters are inserted into holiday cards, so I also found this article noted by The Weekly Genealogist to be of interest.  Read "A Brief History of the Holiday Card" here

The 1843 card by John Callcott Horsley said to be the first
commercially produced Christmas card.

3.  I have always been a fan of Norman Rockwell.  A few years back Molly and I visited a Rockwell exhibit in Washington, DC and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The exhibit was largely of Rockwell art owned by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, both of whom are big Rockwell collectors.  Since Rockwell got an early start in his career (1912) through association with the Boy Scouts of America, and became art director for Boys' Life, the magazine of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the National Headquarters of BSA (when it was still located in New Brunswick, NJ -- home of Rutgers University) had a large exhibit of original Rockwells that were done for the annual calendars, magazine covers, etc. When I was at Rutgers I visited the BSA HQ several times and always paused to view the Rockwells on display. Rockwell was always grateful for the early boost to his career from the BSA and was proud of his association. He produced annual calendar illustrations for BSA from 1925-1976! You can see an example of one of Rockwell's Boys' Life Christmas covers here as provided online by the Norman Rockwell Museum.   Recently, Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots blog, treated us to the wonderful images of her trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts and the Norman Rockwell Museum, where many of the items in the exhibit are of Christmas themes.  If you too are a Rockwell fan, you really must have a look here.           
4.  The blog Cow Hampshire by Janice Brown has been concentrating on posts about WWI during the last two years as we recognize one century since that "war to end all wars" was fought. She posted this week about a fairly well-known Christmas event that happened on Christmas Day in 1914. It is well worth the read in these turbulent times when it often appears we could soon be engaged in yet another armed conflict. It perhaps gives hope that if the meaning and spirit of this time of year could have broken out in the midst of The Great War, then maybe it could prevail to prevent another one.  We can hope anyway! Read "WWI- The Song That Stopped The Fighting" here

5.  And finally, from the blog New England Folklore by Peter Muise comes a summary of a twist on the usual merry holiday stories and celebrations during this season of the year. This post summarizes a 1923 New England Yuletide story by the writer H.P. Lovecraft called "The Festival."  Lovecraft was  born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1890 and died there in 1937.                   
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday Serendipity (December 16, 2017)

Below are just a few recommended reads (and one listen) for this weekend .  .  . 

1.  The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS provided a link this week to a story that is sure to be of interest to anyone with Irish roots. The Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI) has so far identified 10 distinct clusters of DNA differences among people across the island and the clusters roughly mirror ancient provinces. The first genetic map of people living in all the parts of Ireland has been produced. You can learn more by going here.                 

2.  Heard of the "digital dark ages?" You certainly have read genealogy bloggers and researchers who have raised concerns about the preservation and future access to digital data being created in recent years at a truly alarming pace. Most of us hope that all our research efforts and written summaries of that research will survive for our descendants, but will it? This quote from Vincent G. Cerf, VP at Google, should cause all genealogists -- professional or amateur -- to cringe, "All digital artifacts that we have created today in the beginnings of the 21st century will no longer be accessible in the 22nd century."  Yesterday on many NPR stations the Science Friday (SciFri) show of Ira Flatow, presented a piece titled "Preventing A 'Digital Dark Age.'"  You can listen to the 12-minute piece here.  It is part of the series "File Not Found" by Lauren Young.  You can also access three-parts of the series on the very serious problem of storing, preserving, and making accessible in the future all the digital data we are producing. Every genealogist should be aware of the issues and what is being done. Here are the links to the three parts: (1) "Ghosts In The Reels"; (2) "The Librarians Saving The Internet"; and (3) "Data Reawakening."

3.  This week Marian Wood of Climbing My Family Tree blog treats us to a look into her project of testing whether her husband's memory of his family's experience of a famous historic event was correct. It is an instructive piece of detective work. You can read it here.    
4.  Finally, Nancy Messier of My Ancestors & Me blog has confessed she has too many ancestors. Read her delightful 'Confession" here.               
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Friday, December 15, 2017

Immortality (December 15, 2017) -- John Andrew Tew II

John Andrew Tew II (1945)

"Immortality Lies in Being Remembered by Family and Friends." -- John D. Tew

My parents are each the eldest child of their respective nuclear families and I am the eldest of their four children as well as the eldest of my generation. When I was born, I was named John David Tew after the brothers of my parents. My mother's brother, David Otis Carpenter, died on May 9, 2005. Today I returned from attending the funeral of my father's brother, John Andrew Tew II. 

My Uncle John was born on October 22, 1926 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He was the second of the three children of Arnold G. Tew, Sr. and his wife, Huldah A. [Hasselbaum] Tew.

John Andrew Tew II (1927)

John Andrew Tew at left holding his dog "Blacky" and
my father holding their sister Priscilla

John grew up in Rhode Island and when WWII broke out he joined the Navy before he completed high school. After his service he attended and graduated from Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts as a member of the Class of 1948.

Seaman John Andrew Tew with his older brother Arnold G. Tew, Jr.
and their sister Priscilla E. Tew (1944)

John served aboard the cargo ship U.S.S. Cybele (AKZ-10) during WWII. He was first received on board April 16, 1945 as a S1c (Seaman 1st Class) and the Muster Rolls show he served on Cybele until at least June 1946.  The U.S.S. Cybele was originally built by Delta Shipping Company in New Orleans and it was launched as the SS William Hackett under a Merchant Marine Commission on October 9, 1944.  It was later transferred to the Navy on November 14, 1944 and underwent some conversion construction at Tampa Shipbuilding Co. in Tampa, Florida.  On April 16, 1945 the ship was commissioned in full as a Navy ship under the command of CDR J.H. Church, USNR. This made my Uncle John a "plank owner" by virtue of being among the first crew after the ship was fully commissioned in the Navy fleet. 

U.S.S. Cybele October 1, 1945 Muster Roll 

U.S.S. Cybele

While John was serving onboard, Cybele departed Galveston, Texas on May 15, 1945, and then loaded general stores at Bayonne, New Jersey, before sailing on June 4th for Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on June 30.  She cleared on July 31 for San Pedro Bay, Philippines where she issued stores to ships until August 21, 1945. Cybele then arrived in Tokyo Bay on August 31, 1945. Cybele provided stores for ships engaged in the occupation of Japan until October 12th when she sailed to Samar to load cargo for Tsingtao, China. Between December 4, 1945 and January 15, 1946, Cybele issued general stores at various Japanese ports. After reloading at Saipan, she issued cargo to support the occupation troops at Tsingtao and Taku, China, and Jinsen in Korea until April 15, 1946 when she sailed to San Francisco, California, arriving on the 22nd of May. Cybele was finally decommissioned on August 22, 1946 at Pearl Harbor and, after being towed back to San Francisco, was transferred back to the Maritime Commission for disposal April 24, 1947. Cybele was ultimately scrapped in April 1965. 
Gen. Douglas MacArthur signing the Japanese surrender papers (September 2, 1945)

The battleship U.S.S Missouri (“Big Mo” or “Mighty Mo”) had a long history and since 1998 she has been a museum ship at Pearl Harbor. Her place in history is probably most preserved as the location where the surrender of Japan was signed in Tokyo Bay.  The Missouri entered Tokyo Bay on August 29, 1945.  Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and General of the Army Douglas MacArther boarded the Missouri and on September 2, 1945 the unconditional surrender of Japan was signed on the deck of Missouri. As indicated by the operations history of the U.S.S. Cybele above, John was present in Tokyo Bay when the surrender was being signed and when WWII officially came to a long-awaited end

When my uncle returned home from the war he completed his education, married and had four children -- two daughters and two sons. He began his ultimate career when he joined S.S. Kresge, one of the largest discount retail store chains in the U.S. during the 20th Century. Kresge stores were the foreunners of what became Kmart in 1977 and eventually, in 2005, Sears Holdings Corporation (parent of both Kmart and Sears) after Kmart bought Sears. John worked his way up within Kresge/Kmart at stores in New England and New Jersey and also at locations in Indiana and Pennsylvania. He retired from Kmart. 

John Andrew Tew II at right with his brother Arnold and sister Priscilla (2008)

My Uncle John died at age 91 on December 8, 2017 -- 76 years and one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor that resulted in his enlistement in the Navy and his service in WWII. He was interred yesterday afternoon at Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Newtown, Pennsylvania. 

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Photos of USS Cybele and of the surrender aboard USS Missouri from U.S. Government photogrphers and thus in the public domain.

John A. Tew's class portrait and biography from the Cushing Academy yearbook, the Penquin 1948.

All other photos in the personal collection of the author.
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Christmas Tree of Memories


Now that we are firmly within the Christmas season for 2017, I am reprising a wonderful guest post that ran here back on May 14, 2017. The post is authored by Carol Kerr who, with her husband Neville, runs a wonderful Bed & Breakfast (pictured above) in the Forest Park section of Springfield, Massachusetts.

I am thrilled and honored to be able to share Carol's story and photos once again and during the Christmas season. As I noted back in May, I suspect that -- like Carol and Neville's house last Christmas Eve -- there will be many a moist eye in the blogosphere after reading . . .    

The Christmas Tree of Memories
Carol Kerr

My parents didn't have much when they came to America by boat from Germany in the mid fifties. They had a few suitcases, two children, a violin.  There was never much in the way of possessions or heirlooms to pass down.

Mom lived with me for almost 20 years. When she died in August, there was really no inheritance to pass on to her children. She owned no car, no home,  no insurance money. She had a small amount of savings, but even that was not in her name.

What Mom did have was stuff. Lots of it. Old photos, items she had knitted (she was a prodigious knitter), mementos, dishes, stemware, books, tchotchkes, things that her children had given her over the years, paintings she had painted, travel souvenirs. In short, the story of her life in ephemera, trinkets, glass, and costume jewelry.

For the last couple years of Mom's life, my husband and I turned our dining room into a large bedroom/sitting room for her and provided her with a storage room upstairs and parts of several other rooms as well. Mom had lots of stuff, and we had a home large enough to accommodate all of it. After she died, it was time to repurpose the downstairs to a dining room again, and create a guest room upstairs from the storage room.

Then, I had a dilemma. I had all of it . . . everything my mother possessed. I didn't want to keep everything, yet I couldn't bring myself to just get rid of so much. Her possessions represented so much of her life . . . and so many memories. Plus, in my mind was the thought that the other children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren she left behind had nothing of her.

At some point in my mind I made a decision to give stuff to my three siblings. But then the question was what to give and to whom. And what was a fair division? Should the brother with three daughters and a new grandbaby get more than the sister with one son? Or, should the other sister who already had a son, granddaughter, and three great grandchildren receive a larger share? Would they even want any of it? There was nothing of value beyond sentimental.  

In the end, I decided to give something to everyone, and let them decide what (if anything) they wanted to keep. And with Christmas just a few months away, I had an idea to give them this stuff when we were all together for the holiday. And from there, Mom's Last Christmas came to me.

I bought 10 moving boxes (3 siblings, 4 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren = 10 boxes) and set them all up in a side room. Then, I started going through all Mom's things while at the same time converting rooms. As I came across her things, I would put them in the boxes. I tried to evenly distribute as much as possible. Everyone got some old photos, everyone got something she knitted, everyone got something from her china cabinets, everyone got one of her cookbooks and some jewelry. I distributed evenly and randomly, so that even I wouldn't know what was in each box.

Then I found a series of cassette recordings. Mom married for a second time in her early sixties. For their honeymoon, they went on a tour of Germany to travel and to introduce Richard to all the family. Each night they would turn on the recorder and just discuss the day they had. It was wonderful to hear their voices. My husband, Neville, transferred all the cassettes to disk and I put a disk into each box.

Filling these boxes took about three months. Seems like every room I cleaned, there was more and more. Every room had bits of Mom in it. I think that going through it all helped me with the grieving process too. At some point it occurred to me that if I stacked the boxes 4, 3, 2, 1 it made a large pyramid which could easily look like a Christmas tree if decorated. 

When the boxes were filled, I wrapped each in festive holiday paper, added lights, garland, large balls, and a few ornaments. It turned out to be, by all accounts, a beautiful Christmas tree.

On Christmas Eve, after dinner and after all the other presents were distributed, it was time to open the gifts from Mom. Box by box we dismantled that Christmas tree as each person took one.

Opening each box was full of joy, surprise, and memories. People kept holding things up to show what they got in their box. Mom's signed photo of astronauts from her visit to Houston, her framed wedding invitation, her paintings, her knitted and crocheted hats, sweaters, and throws, her special wine glasses, her old family photos from Germany, her handwritten recipe books, the small bibles that she saved, photos of all of us, little statues, all things Egyptian, dishes, servers, cups, her favorite books, letters, cards, everything and anything. I encouraged everyone to feel free to trade amongst themselves.

In the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. We cried together, we laughed, and we all felt very close to Mom and to each other. Everyone agreed it was an amazing Christmas and a fabulous way to remember Mom.  As we headed up to bed, in place of the tree was just a heap of lights, garland, balls, and ornaments left for Christmas Day. It was beautiful!

I like to think that years from now as the grandchildren become adults, this will be the Christmas that will be remembered and they will tell their children about the Christmas Tree of Memories.

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All photos by, and courtesy of, Carol Kerr.

Copyright 2017, Carol Kerr.
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Monday, December 11, 2017

'Tis the Season for Genealogy -- Reconsider the Often Maligned Holiday Newsletter as Genealogy Gold

Many of us at one time or another have probably said something like, "Enough of these end-of-year holiday newsletters. Why do people write these things anyway?" Or we have voiced particular criticsm of specific newsletters we receive -- morsels like: "All this bad news is a downer!" Or its polar oppositie, "Geez talk about self absorbtion, the 'we,' 'me,' 'us,' and the litany of all the great things we do and that happen to us. Makes me want to vomit." And then the whispered appraisal of family members who remain anonymous, "Why do they tell us all this stuff when they know we hear of all these things and events during the year as they happen?"

A Google search of "Holiday newsletters good or bad?" yields some evidence of the criticism that is out there: "Just Say No to the Holiday Newsletter -- Snarky in the Suburbs" or "Oh No! The Generic Holiday Newsletters Are Coming!" and "Holiday letters: Personal updates can reveal too much information." There are undoubtedly some valid points in these various views of the holiday newsletters that often come stuffed in cards containing only canned holiday sentiments and a bare signature; but perhaps there is another way to view these annual newsletters. How about something like "Holiday Newsletters: Genealogy Gold For Descendants and Relatives!

Many years ago I grew tired of simply signing printed holiday cards or having to painstakingly handwrite some real news for every card sent to family and friends. After some years of voicing my own often derisive criticism of end-of-year newsletters, I had an epiphany and a re-set in my thinking. I decided to begin an annual newsletter to insert in cards that we sent to family and friends (and more recently even emailed to some). Sure, it was easier than handwriting pithy news blurbs tailored to each recipient -- blurbs that usually became repeated across cards anyway -- but after rethinking the purposes of a newsletter and who the audience was, I realized that there were two basic groups and two differnet purposes to writing a holiday newsletter.

The first group is friends and somewhat distant relatives who are often scattered around the country and as a result we did not see them often and communicate with them sporatically and mostly in the telegraphic language of email or instant messaging. The content of the annual newsletter is an update for them of things they did not know about in real time and are probably of only ephemeral interest -- the newsletters are read and shortly find their way into the "round file" until trash pick-up day.  This is fine and the newsletter serves a real need and purpose. It is easier to be informative for this group with a newsletter that covers many news events of the year than to try to handwrite individualized summaries in each card.

The second group is comprised of members of the immediate family (who really already know most or all of the news and events in a newsletter) and, I realized, their children and future descendants. For the latter especially, the newsletters would be informative windows into the lives of the ancestors and relatives they never met or knew. I thought of how many times I wished I had letters, diaries, or other written material from ancestors and relatives to fill in their stories beyond the cold facts of birth, marriage, children, death etc. I realized I would love to have annual holiday newsletters written by ancestors and relatives to tell me what they valued as memories for a given year, to memorialize their successes and perhaps some disappointments, to share their joys and sadness, etc.  

And that was when I put aside the thought that my newsletters might produce groans or smirks or even derisive laughter because I knew more clearly for whom I was writing the newsletters and why.  Sure, the newsletter serves a purpose of ease and convenience for me regarding most recipients, but for others it provides a genealogical record that might just be preserved so those in the future need not wonder as I have about the important events in the everyday lives of their ancestors or relatives.

In 2013, as I wrote the annual newsletter for that year, I realized it was the 21st such annual summary and I decided to make a gift of all the previous twenty newsletters (1992 - 2002) to our sons.  I posted here about the three-ring notebook of twenty years of holiday newsletters that I assembled, wrapped, and presented to them on Christmas Day 2013. We spent considerable time that day reading back issues of the newsletter, recalling forgotten events, putting mistaken events back in their correct chronological order, and laughing out loud at many stories and photos the newsletters helped us reminisce about. At the time neither of our granddaughters had been born, but they now feature large in the newsletters of the last three years.  We look forward to the time when we can sit with them and read over the newsletters so they can learn about the early experiences of their parents and grandparents, read and see how they entered the family and got their own section in the newsletter, and come to appreciate the value of having an annual review of their lives and those of their family members.  They might even want to continue the tradition in their own nuclear families when the time comes.

And this is why each Christmas since 2012, I have gifted our sons with the newest annual holiday newsletter in a protective sleeve to be inserted into their binder of the collected Tew Family Holiday Newsletters. Fifteen days from now they will receive the "Special Edition" 25th Annual Tew Family Holiday Newsletter .  .  . and I will have my binder with me to add the 25th edition and just maybe I'll pause to read portions of some oldies but goodies!


So,  I urge you to reconsider the much maligned holiday newsletter. Put aside any prejudices you might have about holiday newsletters and start creating one if you do not already compose one each year. Remember you have different audiences. Care not about the audience that will groan or laugh at you and not with you. Observe a few cautionary tips: avoid being heavy on bad news and disappointments (nobody likes downers), but give gentle and truthful summaries within the limits of getting too personal; include photographs and stories; add a little appropriate and perhaps silly humor; and most of all .  .  . remember that you are not just creating an annual holiday summary of the years event's, you are creating genealogy gold for your descendants!  

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Newsletters image screenshot from Google Images search for "holiday newsletters."

Scanned image of the "Tew Family Holiday Newsletter" binder cover was created by the author. 
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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