How about a few hugs & kisses? One of our favorite letters in our grandmother’s Kindex archive is one she wrote when she was just nine years old. Written while Dorothy’s mother June was out of town for an extended period working on a medical certification, it’s the earliest letter we have. In Dorothy’s letter to her mother, it reveals details about her childhood that are both mundane and fascinating: clothes she crocheted for her doll, fun things she was doing to prepare for Halloween, and good reports on her piano lessons and school quizzes. She closes her letter with an endearing chart of hugs and kisses to be applied to specific recipients.
While the hugs and kisses were a little tricky to index, we are treated to a wonderful snapshot of who Dorothy was as a child: smart, affectionate, and playful. We count the hugs and kisses and see that Dorothy esteemed Aunt Mary high enough to send her the same amounts of hugs and kisses that she sent her mother. Reading this now is like receiving a virtual hug and kiss from the past: a gift of affection and greater understanding.
This letter plays an important role in not just Dorothy’s life narrative, but the narratives of her parents, Louis, and Aunt Mary. Stepping back even further, Dorothy’s papers as a whole—if transcribe and tagged—will have an expansive influence, reaching hundreds of additional people, adding citable sources for hundreds of places and events, and marking time with thousands of dates.
The influence of primary source records is key to providing rich details to our family history. Trees can’t stand alone in our body of research. We must digitize and share our historical records through indexing and create content-based resources. Through the ability to connect with our primary sources through transcriptions, markup and tagging, we create accessible, searchable sources for our families.
Indexing shouldn’t be a tool reserved for official records or the so-called historically important. Building narrative genealogies through indexing the letters, journals and papers of everyday people is a key step to adding the depth and dimension we yearn for in our ancestors.
See the original letter and transcript on smith-clark.kindex.org
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