Over the years I’ve accumulated a large amount of family ephemera. Generations pass on and after the choice belongings of the deceased are divvied up what remains is often several boxes of snapshots, newspaper clippings, letters, scraps of paper scribbled with notes, lists and sometimes the thoughts of our ancestors. Although I’m sure that in the moment it might be tempting to pitch it all in the trash and be done with it, especially when the photos are of people we can’t identify and some of the letters or notes were written by people we never heard of, I am certainly glad that my mom did not feel that way.
My great Aunt Carrie was my grandmother’s sister. She married Bill and they had one son, Alston, who never married. Aunt Carrie outlived both Uncle Bill and Alston. When Aunt Carrie passed away, my mother, who was very close to her, kept all the scraps and bits that had belonged to Aunt Carrie. When my mother died, I inherited all of it and my grandmother’s stuff, AND my parents stuff too.
Because of these boxes of things, I have been able to piece a couple family mysteries together. A "family tree" scribbled on a napkin years ago gave me the names of two of my great-grandfather's siblings that I had not been able to locate previously. Snapshots have enabled me to trace the origin of pieces of furniture that I am now the owner of and knew nothing more than they were my mother’s and somehow she'd inherited them.
Taking the time to sort through the boxes of miscellaneous bits and scraps can lead you to new discoveries when researching your family history.