Sharing our Family Stories

Written by Kayla Utendorf, graduate assistant

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From the Pate Family Photographs

November is Family Stories Month! I thought it seemed appropriate in this post to highlight some of the family papers in our holdings and to discuss how you can hold on to your own family stories. I’m even including pictures!

Here at the AGRC, we have many places to look if you are interested in hearing the stories of families, whether you are researching your own family history or you are interested in listening to someone else’s interesting stories.  The Goldstein Papers document the lives of a 20th-century Murfreesboro family who owned a storefront in downtown Murfreesboro.  One of the Goldstein daughters married Aaron Weise.  The Licker, Haney, Maxwell Papers document the lives of three sisters (whose mother was also a Goldstein). One of the sisters, Ethel Haney, worked for costume designer Gilbert Adrian and was friends with Joan Crawford. The Donnell-Rucker Papers and the Gilley-Puryear Papers record family histories from around the turn of the 20th century.  In addition, the Walter King Hoover Papers document a multitude of occurrences from Middle Tennessee in the 20th century, and can sometimes be useful for genealogical research.

Maybe, however, you are more interested in your own family’s stories? Every family has an interesting story to tell, whether it is dramatic, has a moral lesson, or is simply the story of a hilarious prank. To learn your own family stories, simply go talk to your family! Asking questions about old photographs, school stories, major events such as weddings and births, and stories about your parents’ or your grandparents’ childhood can all be great catalysts for some fascinating stories.  When asked about her childhood, my grandmother relates stories about growing up during World War II.  Her family lived near a POW camp, and every day the camp would send the German prisoners to help her father with farm work.

Family histories can provide an interesting insight as to how larger historical events shape the everyday lives of our family, and these stories in turn can help shape our understanding of these events. So go call your mother!

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