I was introduced to genealogy by the principal of my elementary school. He had each grade eight student attempt to create their family tree and I’m grateful because that assignment meant I sat and listened to the stories of my relatives. Some of those people were gone just a few years later. Although I didn’t return to genealogical research for many years, this assignment captured my mother’s attention and she has been compiling our tree for the past thirty-five years! Listening to stories about my ancestors reinforced my love of history and I’ve been delving into the documentary treasure trove contained in archives and museums for more than thirty years.
We are very fortunate in Waterloo Region to have so many historic places and archives. The staff of the Grace Schmidt Room at the Kitchener Public Library have been a tremendous help to me while researching the various contributors to the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. They have located pictures and information that makes these women and men come to life for me. Among the many documents available at the Grace Schmidt Room is one of my favourites – a petition signed in 1906 by students of the Berlin High School asking for a holiday. In my search for information about the world of the recipe contributors I’ve examined microfilmed newspapers, family genealogies, and church histories, accessed Ancestry for free, and even handled another copy of the Berlin Cook Book, all with the help of the Grace Schmidt Room. I also met other researchers there who suggested resources and gave me ideas. The generosity of genealogists and archivists is amazing.
Visit the Kitchener Public Library Genealogy Fair this Saturday at 10:00am for my keynote address where I’ll explain the connection between a community cookbook and genealogy. The fair includes all sorts of informative workshops and information tables to help us continue the family tree journey.