Credit Reports and Social Security Statements
We all spend a lot time trying to flesh out the lives of our ancestors by hunting down every little detail we can find in censuses, birth records, or city directories. I have been trying to create my very own “ancestor” detail for myself. I am filling up my software database entry with all the residences and occupations I have had. I found myself trying to recall some of my street addresses –I have lived in approximately nineteen places in my life. I then recalled that I had received a free credit report in the mail and listed were six of those addresses!
In addition, I like to use my annual Social Security statement to recall some of my earliest salaries. It makes a fun detail to show how much I made my first year out of college!
Never knowing my own fatherâ€™s family, when I was pregnant with my first child twenty-five years ago, I started my own family history book. I sat with all my relatives, one at a time, over the years, and recorded them talking about themselves. Where they grew up, what it was like back then, whatever they chose to speak about and also the specifics like dates, spouses, deaths, and so on.
The cassettes are inside albums with pictures of them so the ‘listener’, can hear their voice and look at their face. It is a much more intimate experience.
When recording my maternal grandmother, I was pregnant. She passed away a few weeks after my sonâ€™s birth, but she got to hold him once and many pictures were taken that day. Before the end of the two-hour tape, I asked her to share some words of wisdom for her new great-grandson for when he became a man. When he turned twenty-one, I shared her recordings with him. He was wearing headphones, but I knew immediately when he got to that part because his eyes filled with tears.
She simply said, in her thick Italian accent, “You always love and respect you mamma, cuza nobody will ever love you like a you momma. Nobody.”
Information on Insurance Policy
Recently I found the death record of my great-grandmother who lived on Staten Island, New York. The cause of death was given in a medical term I did not understand. A few months later I came across an old application for an insurance policy for my grandmother. She said that her mother had died in child birth. So there had really been two deaths–my great-grandmother and a baby! I would never have thought to look for this information in an insurance policy before. Now I have another resource.
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