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What Is Your Family Origin Story?

“Where did you grow up?” That’s a common question in New England, where I live. The expectation, at least in my town, is that you likely grew up here, or in a nearby town. I’ve grown to anticipate the surprise on the person’s face when I explain that I grew up over a...

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Things That Matter: The Secret of the Silver Cup

The ornate silver cup had been handed down to my husband at his birth, inscribed with his name and birthdate. When our son was born, we added his name and date of birth. But the baby cup had a previous owner. The original inscription had always puzzled us: etched in ornate cursive, it...

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Personal History on Stage Delivers Powerful Message

Two recent productions have put life stories on stage in a big way. Playing at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater through March 5, The Book of Joseph follows three generations of Joseph Hollander’s family, from pre-World War II Poland to present-day America, focused on secrets locked...

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Online Personal History Grows When It Gets Personal

The popularity of TV programs like Finding Your Roots, Who Do You Think You Are? and Genealogy Roadshow proves there is broad interest in family history. Is it time for technology to play a starring role? It seems like an idea whose time has come: the Cloud-based family history repository. As...

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Questions I Wish I Could Ask My Great Grandparents

My great grandfather, Captain William John Spells, Master Mariner, was born in 1858 at Port Adelaide, a mere twenty years after South Australia was founded. Like his father before him, with saltwater in his veins, Will worked as a cabin boy for his father, Captain William Spells, who founded the...

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