The Archives

Who are the people in today’s photo?  I recognize my dad.  He is the man on the right in the top row.  I have no clue regarding the others.  Are they friends, classmates, relatives, neighbors????

Speaking of pictures, I have been on a bit of a quest to have a better picture of my dad’s life.  He was born in 1898 in Butte, MT to Norwegian immigrants.  He had three sisters and one niece.  He married my mom in Bozeman, MT in 1932.  I can pretty much pick up the story from there, but the first 34 years of his life are a mystery to me. 

I don’t have much to go on.  But I found a wonderful resource on our recent trip through Butte.  Her name is Jennifer Peterson and she is an archivist extraordinaire!  She has found census data, death certificates and a trove of other helpful information about my dad and his family.  I still have many questions, but it is a start.

I grew up with much more contact with my mother’s side of the family.  I knew my aunts and uncles well and there were a few cousins in the mix.  Like my dad’s family, it is on the small side too. 

To make it easier for our daughter, I have crafted a timeline of my life.  Since we are in 2021, it is a Google doc.  I update it frequently and she has access to it.  It will be a resource for her to have to fill in the blanks.

My friend (MC) gave me the book, Legacy, which is a step-by-step guide to writing a personal history.  It helps me better tell the stories behind my timeline data.

The primary purpose of Legacy is to help reveal and preserve, easily and comfortably, the essence of one’s life.

Linda Spence

While it is fun to do some research (thanks to Jennifer), it isn’t the same as knowing my dad’s stories firsthand.   I hope to make it much easier for our daughter.

Note to others:  don’t wait until your loved ones are gone to learn their stories.  A death certificate isn’t a substitute for better knowing the essence of my dad’s early years!

See you on Friday,



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