Aren't attics - and cellars - magical places to explore?
When I was a young girl, we spent our summers in upstate New York, with our grandparents. I often went with my grandmother to visit her friend Fanny, who lived a few miles away.
I remember the old country farm house set amid large surrounding fields. While Grandma and Fanny were talking downstairs, I was given permission to go up to the attic and scrounge around.
Fanny and her family had bought the place from people who had long been living there, and the attic was full of what people generally hide away. I found ancient letters, old newspapers covering historical events, all sorts of documents, books, photographs, as well as odd pieces of furniture, art work and old-fashioned clothing. At that young age, I didn't recognize the importance of these finds.
Now that I am so involved in family history and artifacts, I often wish I had an opportunity to revisit that treasure trove. Unfortunately, the house is long gone, and a housing development fills those fields.
My grandparents' home in Brooklyn, New York, had a large cellar filled with more personal treasures. Long ago, while rooting around in the boxes I discovered my grandparents' ketubah (Jewish marriage certificate). I remember wanting to bring it upstairs and ask her about it, but felt it was almost an invasion of privacy to have been looking around, so I put it back in the box.
And, as readers will guess, it was never seen again and the house was sold long ago.
If you have the opportunity to explore an elderly relative's attic or cellar, take the time to do so. Family treasures may be lurking there, long forgotten.
You might find diaries, letters, photos, and documents for birth, marriage or death. In old boxes or in drawers of old furniture might be hidden family bibles, yearbooks, postcards, maps, old newspapers, military memorabilia and more.
What's in your attic?
Have you found family history in an attic or cellar? Share your discoveries in the comments below.