Correspondence in Newspapers
My father, who was in France in World War I, wrote a letter to his father on 24 November 1918, which began: “You know this is the day all of us boys are supposed to write our fathers a letter and tell of our trip to France.” In it, he details the entire trip from Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, to St. Remain, France, and all points in between where he had been, even mentioning the name of the ship he was on for the trip over; a ship which had been the Kaiser’s private vessel before it was taken by the U. S. government. Although the letter itself has long disappeared, my grandfather took the letter to the local newspaper, where it was published in its entirety, and I have a copy of the published letter. Others just might be so fortunate as to find something in a newspaper that their ancestor wrote home.
One of the problems with making notes on pictures, especially heritage photos, is group shots. I take all my group or family pictures and make a black and white copy of the photograph. Then I write the persons name, vital statistics, or any other information on the black and white copy. This copy is then attached to the original photograph and becomes a removable and editable map of who is in the photograph without ever writing on the photograph itself.
In-Person Visit Pays Off
On a recent trip to the Midwest, I visited the small liberal arts college that my grandfather attended. I had previously corresponded with the archivist and she had kindly forwarded some basic information and a photo of my grandfather. After several interchanges, I assumed there was no further personal data about my ancestor but I hoped to learn more about the early history and programs of the school by way of a personal visit. Therefore, while I was there, I examined copies of the monthly bulletin/newsletter. To my surprise, I discovered many references to my grandfather and his activities as well as two compositions he wrote for these publications. However, the greatest reward of all came midway through the afternoon when the archivist went down to the basement storage area and returned with two manila folders. One folder contained letters written to the president of the school in the 1890s and included a letter (in Norwegian) sent by my grandfather. The other folder contained my grandfatherâ€™s twenty-one page senior thesis in his own hand. I am still amazed at the unexpected richness of that in-person visit.
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