Turns Out, This Runs in the Family

Jillian Currier, Co-Editor in Chief

Family history has been peaking many people’s interests lately, only leading me to be more curious and fascinated by my own.

This past weekend I was able to take the long – one hour – drive back home to visit my grandparents and hang out with my cousin who had just flown in from Texas. I only expected dinner, some talking, and maybe a few board games, but what I didn’t expect was to get a rundown of my family genealogy, along with the realization that my grandma was also a journalist.

This all stemmed from a school project that my cousin Bri had to complete about her genealogy and extended family tree. Of course, my grandma, being the most organized and put-together woman there is, has an entire binder in her office of our family’s extended history.

Bri was able to do the simple ones on her own, like her parents and grandparents, but anything past there she knew she needed help with —and the only person fit for this job was my grandma. She told her to just wait until she arrived in New York to go through the project with her.

So, when I walked into my grandparents’ house that evening, I was greeted with lineage and family history spread across the dining table rather than the dinner itself.

I must admit at first, I was hesitant to dive into what was in front of me. What if I started reading and found out my great-great-great grandfather did something horribly wrong? What if everything I thought I knew about my family was all wrong, and no one had ever corrected my knowledge?

Despite my initial qualms, I opened the binder and started picking through the various pages inside.

First there were grave plots – my grandma has everyone in the family’s mapped out so she can visit them, which I have always tried to avoid thinking about, but she deems necessary —followed by pages and pages of family history, all produced by a typewriter and photocopied so she has extras.

When I started reading through the family history I was in awe of the style of writing —it was told like a story, and not just information that was pulled from some random website. I ripped through the packet in no time, so taken aback by the style of the writing and how detailed my family history now was in my mind.

My grandma started explaining to us how she tried finding additional information online about some of my grandfather’s relatives but came up short. The family tree on my cousin’s project had dozens of names on my grandma’s side and just a handful on my grandpa’s.

I asked her where she got the rest of the information, only to find out that my grandma took it upon herself to sit down with our relatives and document it on her own.

My grandma, the woman who I seem to get all my creative and artistic qualities from, also passed me down the journalistic instincts I was always confused about. She interviewed her relatives to preserve our family history and unearth details that no genealogy website could tell you.

She did all of this out of her own curiosity, and to be able to pass this down to us, her grandkids, so we could add to it and build our own family history the same way.

There were personal, intimate details about our relative’s past homes, what they did for work, where they worked, their children, their wedding days —all produced from my grandma’s own intrigued mind. A journalist in her own time, passing her work down to me, a journalist today.

I was so impressed and emotional about the entire thing, that I asked for my own copies to fill out and read through. So of course, after dinner, some board games, and a trip to get ice cream, I left her house that night with our newfound family history sitting in my passenger seat, waiting to be rediscovered.