Monday, April 9, 2012

Unattainable Ephemera

What a wonderful weekend!  Nearly the entire time was spent with family from both sides.  It was like a springtime Christmas, which is rare because we normally don't celebrate Easter with my side of the family.  But my mom's birthday coincided this year, so we melded the two together.

At least for me, family visits are rejuvenating.  After my family left on Saturday evening, I was still basking in our time together when I went back to my computer to check my e-mails and Facebook pages. It was then that I discovered something that changed my weekend - the newly available 1940 Census.

Well, actually, it was the 1940 Census that prompted me to join, a subscription-based genealogy site.  SO many folks are trying to access the census right now that's it's virtually impossible to see what you want to see.  I'll try again in about a month.  :D

When I titled this post, I was really talking about these papers that maybe aren't ephemeral at all; the census is an official government process, so those handwritten sheets were never meant to be thrown away, or even to be seen by the public.  But the fact that they're paper, and they're handwritten, make them so prone to damage or loss.  That's what I meant by ephemeral.  Thankfully, now that these census sheets are going digital, we'll never lose them.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that most Ephemeraologists are also genealogy buffs.  It's all about personal history, isn't it, and how certain artifacts pertain to our own lives.  It's fun to find "clues" as to how our ancestors lived, and the ephemeral items they left behind.

And oh, did I find clues!  Of all of the wonderful documents I found this past weekend, here is the coolest:

It's the census sheet containing my dad's maternal grandparents.  I had an out-of-body experience when I saw this, because I never imagined I'd ever obtain any information about them, ever.  My dad was much older than my mom (26 years older, to be exact), so every generation is skewed up a notch.  My dad was born in 1920, so his parents were born in the 1890's. These folks I'm talking about here - Onesime (pronounced Own-a-zeem) and Mathilda Morin, were born in the 1850s-60s.  They were French Canadian (not surprising when you hear those names!), but I never knew my great-grandfather was actually born in the U.S., in Massachusetts, not Quebec like we all previously thought.  My dad never talked about his extended family, and I regret not asking more questions.  Now it's up to me to piece together the puzzle (the Morins are the second-to-last family on the sheet, if you'd like to see for yourself).

As much as I'm thrilled to see this amazing piece of history, I long to see it in person, to feel that paper and smell it.  To absorb it.  Digital documents are a wonderful, wonderful invention, but they'll never replace the real thing.  :)

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