Friday, May 18, 2012

Research for fun

It's official, I'm a geek!  I've spent months now researching a family in my spare time.  It's not even my family.  As far as I know, we are in no way related, but I still research.

I read a book called Hannah's Daughters.  I read it a few years ago, and recently picked it up again.  The book follows 6 generations of a family matrilineally .  Their stories were so real, and I could relate to the women and their struggles.  Hannah moved with her husband, father and brother to Yakima, WA.  The fact that her family had been here in my hometown, really drew me in.  The 5th generation Lisa was my mom's age.  I wondered if maybe they had ever met?  Her children were my age, her son at least. 

This book was written in the late 70's so when Grace decided the book aired dirty laundry, the author changed all their names.  She did not however change Hannah's birth date and place, or her death date and place.  I mean, who would take the time to do all the research to determine the real people in the book? 

She couldn't have guessed that in 2012, it would take me just an hour or so using free websites to cross check names and find the correct name.  She probably wouldn't know that Washington State now has Ask a Librarian, that allows you to request scanned copies of obituaries.  I knew Hannah's real name quite easily, and from there found where she was buried.  That didn't help me at all with her daughter's name though. 

First of all, Hannah had been married twice after divorcing her daughter May's dad.  Even if I knew her first married name, I knew that May had also been married.  So I had to wait for the obituary to arrive.  And after a 6 week wait, it did.
After reading her obituary, I requested her daughter May's obituary as well.  Then on a lunch break, I decided to visit Hannah.  I was saddened to see that she had the small plain cement headstone, that after only 36 years was wearing away.  But I plan to return with a flower for her, as it doesn't appear anyone visits her much.
I've started a Pinterest album to track all my findings.  I know that I won't be able to visit May's grave, as she died at the age of 100 in Pierce County.  At the time of the book's release, May's daughter Grace was also living in Tacoma.  I do know that Barbara and Lisa are both still alive, and I believe Lisa's daughter must be also, based on an Amazon review. 

This has really been a lot of fun.  It wouldn't be possible if I didn't have all the free resources on the internet, or the book to help sort out dates and places.

1 comment:

Liz Fiorentino said...

So cool! I think it's wonderful that you're honoring her, too. I wonder how she feels about it? :)