Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 12: Relating to Family Past & Present at the Holidays

In a revision of a 2007 blog post, author and local historian/genealogist Grace DuMelle (Finding Your Chicago Ancestors) offers this advice on Day 12 of our 12 Days of Xmas blog-a-thon for remembering and relating to family past and present at the holidays. She also notes that winter months and in-depth, library-based genealogy research go hand in hand.


• Take a tour of the places your ancestors lived, worked, played, and worshipped. Be sure to convert pre-1909 addresses for Chicago so you’re in the correct spot!

• Ask older relatives if they have any good stories about your ancestors. What stands out after all these years? Are there things you want to know more about? Write down the clues.

• Go through old photos. It can be a revelation to see an ancestor as a young man or woman. How have you inherited height, build, eye color, or nose?

• Get the context. What was it like to be a Pullman porter, fire fighter, school teacher or dressmaker? How was it to live through the Chicago Fire, World War II, or the civil rights era? It’s fun to learn more with a trip to the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St., Chicago), Newberry Library (60 W. Walton St., Chicago), or Fire Museum of Chicago.

• Cook a special meal with food that’s been part of your family. Most ancestors came to Chicago from a different part of the U.S. or a different country. Toast the traditions they brought from home and passed down to you.

DuMelle was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune's real estate section in the article "Historian finds every home has a story."

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