Tuesday, January 7, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week 1 The Birthday Book

Granny’s birthday book is more than just a list of birthdays; it is a treasure trove of names and dates; births, marriages, divorces, relationships, photos, and even a recipe for meatloaf. I don’t know where or when she acquired the book, but I suspect it was sometime in the 1950s. It is held together by black tape and at one time the cover was red but is now a lovely faded burgundy with black imprint. Each day of the year has a four-line excerpt from the poems of John Greenleaf Whittier.

This book is my bible for family information. It is really all that I have to corroborate any other documents I might find relating to my family tree. Of course, there was a time when it didn’t occur to me that I had to prove anything; Granny said it and that made it so. 

On many of the entries, she even thoughtfully wrote down the day of the week on which the event occurred. Occasionally, small newspaper clippings are clued to pages, usually birth announcements. There are few pages with no events listed, though February seems to have been a slow month for our family. In the back she has written her list of husbands and the dates she was married to them and separated via death or divorce. 

This book is her life story in miniature. Here and there are entries she has heavily inked out. What was there that she didn't want to see ever again, or didn't want anyone else to see?

One thing I have yet to do is transcribe or scan the book. This is task that needs to be done, since this is an important artifact of my family history.

Granny’s last entry in the book was on December 25:

Minnie Almedo Magee
Born Dec 25, 1876
Died Feb 14, 1904
My Mother
Her maiden name Spires

For an introduction to my great-grandmother, Mary Ann Magee, please see this post: Meet Mary Ann.


  1. What a terrific piece of family history to have in your possession.

  2. Thank you, Schalene. It is a treasure.

  3. Very neat! What was her name? I didn't see it in the post.

  4. What a treasure that book must be!! I'm sure you will find many interesting things as you transcribe it. It's amazing how transcribing makes something stand out that somehow we've just never noticed.