Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Abundant Genealogy - Historical Documents

This is Week 7 of Amy Coffin's Abundant Genealogy series.  The topic is Historical Documents:
Which historical document in your possession are you happy to have?
How did you acquire this item?
What does it reveal about your ancestors?

Last week's topic was Family Heirlooms.  I wrote about the five important documents, shared between my siblings and myself, that tell the story of my dad's life.  While I consider them heirlooms of a sort, they are rightfully, Historical Documents.  But I'm not going to write about them again this week. 

I'll answer Amy's first two questions out of order and quickly:  My mom gave this document to me, along with many other papers and photos, about a year ago when I began researching the family history.  The title of the document is "Department of Defense Personnel Security Questionnaire."

My Dad in his Coast Guard Reserve uniform,
with good friend Pete Santoro.
Baltimore, 1945.
I'm not sure why my father completed the questionnaire.  I have his own copy, unsigned, dated January 31, 1961.  By then, Dad's time in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve was far behind him (Dad was 4-F and for health reasons could not serve actively.) 

At that time he was working at The Martin Company, grinding and devising tools to that were used in the building of aeronautical things like, oh, B-52 Bombers and such.  So perhaps everyone had to complete one of these questionnaires every once in a while.  I'll have to check what was going on around then that might be behind the need for something like this.  It doesn't matter that I don't really know the "why" of it.  What matters is everything else that's in this fantastic document!

This questionnaire is completed in my dad's meticulous, distinctive printing.  So I can count on the credibility of all the information.  BONUS!

From this document, I have learned:

Every school my dad attended, and the years.

Every job he held, some as a teenage grocery clerk, one as a Western Union messenger, until his eventual employment at The Martin Co. 

His parents and siblings, with birthdates, place of birth, addresses, and for three of those siblings, death dates.  This was helpful; I only knew of one of those siblings who died young.

Every address he lived to date, and the duration.

Five references, always a good thing to have.

Whereas the five documents I posted about last week tell the highlights, this Security Questionnaire fills in the nitty-gritty details.  And I love it!  It was a lot of fun to read through, and also very informative. 

Some (though not any family historians or genealogists worth their salt) may roll their eyes in boredom at the phrase "historical documents," but I can attest, anyone lucky enough to get their hands on a document like mine will be happy, happy, HAPPY!!!

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