Your Quick Tips, 29 October 2007

Treasures from Goodwill
Goodwill Industries has an interesting website at; it is an online auction of a wide array of antiques/collectibles from Goodwill’s inventory of donated goods. When I looked at the website, there were some vintage photo albums and some great historical photos (which genealogical societies may be interested in purchasing for their archives). Also up for auction are some interesting and old cookie jars and china that may remind you of an ancestor or your own childhood. I came across this website when I was looking online for a list of the second hand/thrift stores in the state of Washington.
Denise Daubert
Ardrossan, Alberta, Canada

Search for Everyone
I highly recommend searching for every member of a family in every census when using online sources. Several times I have found only one child of the family whose name is “linked” into the index. On one occasion, there were eight people in the household, who were all related to one infant, but trying all the ways and means possible, I could not get them to show up in the index. I assume it is some kind of technical problem that is preventing them from showing up.

Janice B
Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, UK

Do It Now
We all think, “Oh, I have time to find out information from the family,” but sometimes times sneaks up on us and they are gone. Ask your older family members the names of their relatives, dates they may remember, places they lived, children they had, etc., and be sure to write it all down.

I recently found my deceased paternal grandmother’s very old family Bible. It is gorgeous, but she didn’t write a single thing on the family information pages. I was heartbroken. I am now researching the family and when I get all the information together I’d like to know if you think it would be proper of me to fill the in pages? Maybe I should leave it be and just insert my own records?

Thank you for your help.
Faith Heidel

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33 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 29 October 2007

  1. Since the pages in your famiy bible probably are not acid free, it would be wise to attach your version of the family tree into it attaching it permanently somehow.

  2. I agree with Carol. By all means fill in the information. This way future generations will have the past’s information.

  3. You have the option to fill it out… or, on acid free paper supply all the data and add additional notes. This can provide more information than the limited fields in the Bible, and is easy to remove and photocopy without damaging the book. My gg-grandmother copied the information for all her children and then it was inserted in either the spouse’s family Bible or the couples new one. It simplified each generation receiving a copy in the original handwriting.

  4. Personally, I would NOT fill in your grandmother’s bible pages … I would leave them as I found them. The suggestion about filling out the information on acid-free paper (with acid-free ink) is a good one. I would consider placing them in an (acid free) envelope, and place the package in the bible.

    You have an antique on your hands. It’s “gorgeous”, as you say. Why would you wish to desecrate it’s beauty by doing something your paternal grandmother didn’t do, when you can provide the information (on easily photocopied paper, rather than on the pages of the bible, where future generations would be required to run the risk of “breaking the binding” to photocopy your (not your grandmother’s) notes?

    Just my two cents.

  5. When I was 12 I was given my great grandmother’s bible. She had listed her 3 children and husband. My mother filled in the info about her parents and children. I have now added my 20th great grandchild to the book. The notes fill the margins of many pages. And if I live long enough, I’ll add great great grandchildren. If the beauty of the bare bible inspires you, add loose pages. If the antiquity of a family treasure inspires you, start with the original owner and fill it in. Madora

  6. I think that you should fill in the family pages (using acid free ink) with the names the owner should have put there. Then put the information on acid free paper and add it to the Bible in a separate envelope.

    My Family Bible ended with the Death of my G-Grandmother. I have wished many times that my Grandmother had entered the family information and kept the Bible going for the future generations.

  7. Do you have family to pass this on to? If you do you will need to make more than one copy on acid free paper but if you don’t add the information and the papers that have the data on it is lost then the Bible will still be a tool for someone else later on after you are gone.

  8. I think you were meant to find the Bible to fill in the pages. I was all for filling it in till I read the advice about the ink so I would place the information in the acid free envelope. I would also include the story of how you found the Bible. Any lovely family stories to add to the family data and a sweet thought or word of wisdom for those who follow.

  9. If you feel this book will be passed on, I think you absolutely should fill the Bible in. Loose pages have a way of falling out of books. Find the special ink, but when completed, it makes it a Family Bible, not just an antique book. I have pages, written in Russian, dated 1882, they were ripped out of my Grandmother’s Bible when she came from Poland; I suppose the bible was too heavy to carry, but she wanted us to have the names of her family. These pages have survived all this time I have no idea who filled them in because she couldn’t read or write. But the pages are still with me for my grandchildren, her great, great grandchildren. I’m sure the ink was just normal old ink used with a straight pen.

  10. A family bible is what it says – family. It was intended for the family to add thier records and would be handed down through the generations. My family kept thiers and it was added to at each event. Unfortunately it was stolen and all the entries have gone forever. I am now having to start my own family tree and wish that I had all the information from the family bible.
    Keep the information together in what ever way you choose but please make a second copy.
    Why did she have a family bible if not to pass it on.

  11. For Faith Heidel

    No, as a “purist” please don’t fill it in. She chose not to and it was her bible not yours. As a historical record it should be left as found. It would be like adding extra paint to an old master or adding words to a Shakespeare play. However, I would insert your own page and/or tree of notes to show what you have found and where Paternal Great Grandmother fits into that.

  12. With the divorce and remarriage rate so high, any recorder will run out of space. If she starts writing, she will have to add, “continued on separate sheets”. Therefore, it would seem better to use separate acid-free paper for all. QUESTION: How could an envelope of pages be attached to a permanently-bound Bible with damaging the book?

  13. I have one of those bibles with nothing filled in and it has left a gap in research that remains unraveled. Probably always will, so for those who come after you at least insert your own acid-free pages with as much information as you can. Those who come after you will appreciate what you did. You could even leave a note of explanation. Good luck!

  14. I think you should fill them out. I have my grandmother’s Bible and she did fill her’s out. When my Uncle inherited the Bible he continued to fill it out and now their is no more room. He has since passed on and I have inherited the bible. I have my own bible that I have filed out. I would at least fill out her husband’s name & marriage date & their children & birthdates.

  15. I personally would not fill in the pages. Including your own pages or notes regarding your family history is fine. Use sheet protectors to keep the ink from getting on the pages of the Bible. They make them for storing or saving documents and they are safe to use.

  16. place separate pages with your information and the bible in acid free box together. label each page so if they should become separated in future they are easily placed back in order and with the bible.

    it simply does not make sense to write it in the bible after all these years…what if you should make a mistake? I did while trying to record information in my own bible.

  17. hmmm… i’d fill it in, noting who found and eventually filled its pages… its a very rare bible indeed that is worth anything to anyone but the family… yes i’d take the precautions of using acid free inks… if i knew where to find such a concoction…

    has anyone any experience in getting family bibles rebound?

  18. By all means fill it out. Those coming on behind you will appreciate this. You might want to note who filled it out and when, maybe even where your information was recieved from.

  19. You did not state how old this Bible is beyond very old. Is it something that has been in the family for generations or just or grandmother’s. I would not write in it either way. I would just put a packet of your information in it for future generations to read.

  20. i think– leave it as you found it, it shows what your family did before you came along (did not fill out) leave history as you found it, as you would a photograph of an ancestor.

    Some have commented to fill in–because their family has begun and then added to their bible–that’s ok for their family but your situation is your unique situation.

    Now for the information that you’ve gathered, i think a packet kept with the family bible would be good, ask those who know about best ways to preserve your inherited bible and your own research. It is possible to digitally photograph the blank pages, print them in whatever size you like, fill them out, and frame them. Framed or unframed, these would be nice to give to other family members. Again, check with those who know how to do this.
    Note On “Acid Free”: pens with acid free ink are found where ever pens are sold, definately in the scrapbook areas of craft stores. This is not new and exotic, all paper was acid free at one time. We all know acid paper–one example is newspaper and we know how brown and crumbly it gets after only a few years.

    So, preserve the physical book as you found it, and preserve your research as creatively as you like, use lasting methods and materials for both.

  21. Should leave it be and just insert your own records. It is what it is. In your reasearch you may come across a rhyme or reason as to why it wasn’t filled in.

  22. I would definitely fill it in but taking into consideration what everyone is saying about acid-free pens. I have my Grandfather’s Norwegian bible with the family history inside plus everyone’s newspaper obituaries glued to the front and back inside pages. I can’t read Norwegian but the family records, written in Norwegian and the obituaries in English will never be forgotten. It’s one of my most treasured possessions. I also have an autograph book that belonged to my Great Grandmother that she got in 1879. It’s full of poems from her students, cousins and future husband. One of her daughters gave it to my mother years later and put in her remarks about many of the people who signed her autograph book. It was like reading a script for a soap opera. If not for her remarks, there’s no way that I would’ve know any of that information. Another “keeper”.

  23. The type of paper used depends on how old the bible is. If it was made before 1914 then there is probably no acid in the paper. Because it doesn’t get opened very often the ink (whatever you use) will not fade as quickly as something that is open all the time. It is worth taking the trouble to use what we in UK used to call a fountain-pen to write the information and use a good quality ink. I would write in the bible but if you are in any doubt then buy acid free paper and write on there and then make a bag or a box (a wooden box is best) to keep the bible and the papers together.
    We didn’t have a family bible and it was something I always wanted so a few years ago we bought a new one and I have added all the information from my parents on down. WE had a velvet lined box made and I keep an up to date copy of the whole family tree in there too. I have it in my will to go to my daughter because she seems to be taking up the mantle of family record keeper.

  24. Wow who would have thought this would have stirred such diverse opinions. I purchased a beautiful family bible from my parish fundraiser, and though I have all kinds of genealogical records, I haven’t gotten around to filling my own family info! I had better get on with it, so there isn’t this confusion for my daughter. Perhaps, Gram didn’t have the information, couldn’t read or write well, or just never got around to it. Depending on her faith tradition, bibles were meant to be looked at and not read, that was left to those who where “more knowing”. So it may have sat in a prominent place in the home and never touched. I believe it truly becomes a Family Bible when the family info is placed into it. I would suggest adding the info and notating that it was you who “updated it”; as you pass it down, then others can feel free to update. My dad’s bible held the clippings of obituaries, and funeral remembrance cards. Some people place important records like sacrament certifictes, in their bibles for safe keeping, so it really depends on the value you place on the bible, is it in its possible monetary antique value or its heritage value, let your heart be your guide.

  25. Hello Faith;

    I think you should fill out the pages…my paternal great-grandmother passed away, and my great-grandfather’s second wife added her information as well as their children. I confess when I filled out my own bible, I made mistakes and used liquid paper to correct it. It’s pretty sloppy, but my writing has never been neat either, so I guess future generations will have to see my penship & hope they can read it! Thank goodnesss for the neatness of computers.

  26. After going to many sites on the internet, I find a ton more choices of sites. Many claiming to be free. It says just put in the informaion and click here. I do that, then I click. Ok, then it is time to pay for the free information? And of course it is before you actually know for sure that you have the right person. FRUSTRATING!
    All sites claim to be your only one stop shop.
    I wouldn’t mind paying for a site, if it is reasonable, and if I know that they can deliver the information that I am trying to find.
    HELP ! Is there a sure site to go to, and is there any sites that acually are free?

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