Sunday, October 27, 2019

Two Boxes of History

My grandmother's first cousin Helen died a few weeks ago.  Helen and her siblings were the only first cousins side that my grandmother knew growing up, since all of the others grew up in what was then Czechoslovakia or Romania, while my grandmother was born in Pennsylvania.  One of Helen's brothers had given me some (very poor) photostats of some family documents in the early 1990s, but I'd never seen the originals.  Both of Helen's brothers died years ago.

I'd asked Helen a year or so ago if she had any family documents or photos, but she said that she didn't.  She did share some stories of growing up and of some relatives that she remembered.  Well, it turns out Helen had documents and photos.  Lots of them.

Helen's niece (on Helen's husband's side) has been going through her house.  As she found Rutner-related documents and information, she added them to a box.  And then she had to start adding them to a second box.  It turns out that Helen had many documents and photos.  Here's what Helen's niece Elizabeth has given me so far:
Photos and Documents from Helen
There are nearly 200 photographs in this box as well as lots of documents.  Most of the photographs are unlabeled (label your photos, people!!), but I've found many with labels and others with people who I recognize from photos I already had or from labeled photos in Helen's collections.  Some of the photos seem to be of relatives on Helen's mother's side (I'm related through her father), and I'm working on getting in touch with their descendants to reunite them with their photos.

And then there's the documents.

Helen had an envelope filled with documents.  Old documents.  Disintegrating documents.  Incredible documents.  I had old photostats of some of them, but these are the originals, complete with tax stamps.

I'll be periodically blogging about them, and why not start now?
Copy of Birth Registration of Mosko (Shmuel Moshe) Rutner
My great-great grandfather registered his 1855 birth in 1918; I've seen that registration.  This is a certified copy (in the days before there were copies) from 1922, giving the same details that were on the original birth registration.

This document is torn where it was folded, but it's still entirely legible.  And it was only the first document I pulled out of a stuffed envelope.  More documents to come!

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  1. How wonderful. We should never give up hope that old photos and documents might turn up. With DNA, I'm connecting with more distant cousins. Who knows what treasures they might have.

  2. What a great treasure to go through. I am looking forward to reading about it.

  3. What a blessing and gift from above! I wish I were that fortunate in the search for the Darman/Diamond ancestors for my husband's family. Maybe one day this will happen for us ... you never know!!

  4. What is the part that says Mendel? Rabbi something? Just wondering. Thanks.

    Very awesome find, glad it's in your hands and know how much this means to you!