Sorting the genealogy room, finding family history

box o photos3In some areas of my life, I am highly organized. As yet, my genealogy has not been one of them. This is in no way an indication of its importance to me … it’s just that I kind of stumbled into genealogy and, since then, have tended most of the time to follow my muse more than any thought-out plan. I’ve accomplished a lot of genealogy this way, but the fruits of it are … shall we say … scattered among many boxes and stacks. For one thing, I am still trying to figure out the best way to preserve the nearly 100-year-old photo album, at right, that we inherited from my paternal grandparents.

After my dad passed away in the fall of 2018, I had an intensely busy season at work, after which my mom moved into an independent living apartment and I moved to be closer to her. With the move, I welcomed the prospect of a room I could devote to my genealogy resources and family memorabilia. I transferred boxes, bags, and stacks into the room to be quickly put away at a future time … all part of a grand vision for a “genealogy room.” Then … life took over as I popped in and out of the room to grab things from those boxes, which I continued stepping over, rather than emptying and sorting.

Now, many months later, working from home during a pandemic and inspired by the Legal Genealogist, I took a day off to start getting things in order. It was intended as a distraction from the disappointment of not being at the tulip festival in Iowa that I was meant to attend this week in my mother’s hometown, which, like everything else, was cancelled. Instead, I decided, I would sort. This is Day One.

When you keep your family history memorabilia in the same room with your genealogical resources, however, it is easy to get distracted. I knew this was likely when I started this morning. I was not wrong. The good news is that I have cleared a path and found general areas in the room for: 1. photos and memorabilia, 2. genealogical resources, 3. office supplies, and 4. electronic equipment and paraphernalia. I also cleared a path I can walk through without stepping over boxes. It’s a start.  The bad news is that’s about all I’ve accomplished so far.

I’ve decided to allow myself the satisfaction of re-discovering things that have been boxed up for, in some cases, years. I have also discarded odd things taking up room and causing clutter … stuff that managed to cling pointlessly to my files, like a room service menu from the Amway Grand left over from the NGS conference in Grand Rapids in the spring of 2018.

KoreaWoundClipIn the midst of it all, though, I re-discovered a small, fragile, yellowed news clipping that I assume is from 1950 or 1951 and which I may have really looked at only once or twice in my life. It’s a brief announcement that my then 20-year-old father had suffered a minor arm wound in Korea. There is no date on it, nor any indication of the newspaper in which it appeared, but I assume it was the Sioux City (Ia) Journal. It indicates that Dad was “getting along satisfactorily.” Yes, that sounds like him.

Pfc. Richard W. Hendrickson, 20-year-old marine, suffered a minor hand and forearm wound recently in Korea, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carl H. Hendrickson, 3910 Ridge Avenue, have been advised by the defense department. The nature of the wound was not revealed, but the marine has written his parents that he is ‘getting along satisfactorily,’ they said. Pfc. Hendrickson, a sophomore at Morningside College, was called to active duty in late October. He went overseas February 15 and landed in Korea March 5.

marineinsigniaIt must have been shortly after he arrived in Korea, and he may not yet have known how hard things would get. With the clipping was some sort of metal pin or fastener that appears to be the Marine Corps insignia and is quite worn and weathered, as well as a news clipping announcing the death in Korea of 21-year-old Pfc. Lawrence Hansen, who must have been a family friend. It will all find a safe place in the genealogy room.

Then, from the other side of the family, I discovered some maps about which I had almost forgotten. They were part of the “grand vision” for the genealogy room just a year ago, although I don’t think I’d even looked at them in a long while. They are three small, mid-19th-century maps of towns and provinces in the Netherlands from which my Dutch ancestors immigrated (to the town I was expecting to be visiting this week). I bought the maps online from a print collector in the Netherlands several years ago, with the intention of framing and hanging them, but since then they have remained in the boxes in which they were mailed. I have hope for them, though, if I ever get this room sorted.

We’ll see what Day Two brings.


Map of Rijssen, Overijssel, the Netherlands, 1865.


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4 Responses to Sorting the genealogy room, finding family history

  1. Amy says:

    I have that random muse thing going in my research also. But I have very little in terms of physical memorabilia or documents. Almost everything I have is in digital format because I either found it online or it was emailed to me by a family member or archive or library. Thank goodness because if I had the physical stuff, I think I might have to move out of the house!

    • Laura says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who follows my muse! Honestly, it’s the story more than the stats that drives me, though if I want to pursue certification I’m going to have to become a little more … shall we say … linear. I don’t usually feel like I have that much memorabilia, but when I start going through things I find out I do.

      • Amy says:

        Good for you, going for certification. I am way too lazy to do that at this point. I prefer continuing to amble my way through the research, telling the stories as I find them.

      • Laura says:

        Well, I haven’t started the process yet … kind of inching my way toward it but keep putting it off. Kind of a challenge when I’m still working full time, but it would be nice to have it accomplished by the time I am ready to move on to the next thing. It’s helpful that extensions can be granted. Telling the stories as we find them is plenty satisfying until then. 🙂

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