Ideas for Valentines Day—letters and family history

Interview a Couple

We may know Grandma and Grandpa (or Mom and Dad, or Aunt Sue and Uncle Bill) were married on such-and-such date, in whatever town, but do we know the story behind their romance? Interview your family members and ask how they met, where they went for their first date, how and where they proposed/were proposed to, etc. By recording these stories you’ll be adding a depth and interest to your family’s history, and you may uncover some clues to more research through the story.

Love Letters

Do you have love letters that your ancestors may have written? Why not make copies and share them with other family members? Maybe you have saved love letters from your loved one. Why not preserve them in an album and let your honey know how much you treasure them.

Ancestry Quick Tip
Wedding Stories

by Joyce Holder

I discovered that I have legal marriage records for eight generations, from Pennsylvania in 1755 to Arkansas in 1982. There is one for which I do not have the legal record, but I have an eyewitness account from the bride’s sister in the husband’s Revolutionary War pension file.

My plans are to write a story covering all of these weddings. I will do research to learn the wedding trends of the day, the style of dress, etc.

What can you learn from marriage announcements published in local newspapers?

Family History and the Wedding Portrait

Donít limit your wedding search to images of the couple on their wedding day. Create a story of the couple with their marriage certificate, invitations, photographs, the minister, and the place where they married. For instance, in the nineteenth century, pre-printed forms could be purchased to hold small photographs of the bride, groom, and in some cases the minister, along with the date and place of the marriage. These were suitable for framing and were hung in many homes. There may also be artifacts in your family that add to the tale, including linens or wedding gowns. In some families, quilts are part of the wedding traditions.

Researching the stories of weddings

Have you documented the stories that you know? Have you written down the story of how your grandma and grandpa met at a local dance? Or the story of how your Dad pulled some strings to send your Mom’s beau overseas? Or how your husband proposed to you on a warm starlit night, or on bended knee in the family garden, the air smelling of jasmine?

If you have not recorded these details, you are leaving out one of the most compelling human elements in your family story. If you have living parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents, have you asked them how they met their spouse? What attracted them to each other? Where did they go on their first date? Did they exchange any special gifts when they were courting? Were any love letters or poems written and saved?

What details are known about the wedding? Did they date for a long time before getting married? Was it a church wedding or was it held at the family home? Who stood up or witnessed the event? Was there a reception? Did anything interesting, romantic, or funny happen that day? Was there music? What songs were played? Wedding invitations can also add to the story, as well as offering insights to personalities and other genealogical clues.  Full Article

Valentines Day Assembly

What about an assembly somewhat like the veterans assemblies several schools now do? The focus of the interviews could be couples in the community who have been married 30 years or more. The powerpoints could feature documentation from the weddings--with a bit of cultural interpretation as to why weddings were celebrated as they were. If the courtship included letters that still exist, students might quote from a few of these.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 03/25 at 09:56 AM






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