Family History

I’ve always loved family history… The photos, the stories, the lives of my ancestors that I’ve never known… well my mom has really gotten involved in gathering information and pictures that have been scattered throughout the family in the last few years… I even joinedย for a while because I was so enthralled with the census reports etc…

This weekend my mom dropped off a CD of pictures from my grandfather’s family dating back to the 1920s… with help from Steve’s mom I’ll be making my first scrapbook to hold the memories… but here is a little taste of what was dug up…

great-grandfather who immigrated from Ukraine

Pap loading up on the bus

coulda been a movie star!

Working in one of the Pittsburgh steel mills while home on furlough

Possibly why I love these pictures is because my Pap died before I was born and this is the only way I will ever know him… and I couldn’t be prouder of him, fighting in WWII, working in the steel mill until it shut down and loving my grandmother and making her happier than I can even imagine…


175 thoughts on “Family History

  1. These are great pictures! I’m the same way with one of my grandfathers, I never got a chance to meet him but love looking at pictures of him from WWII days and when he was a police officer.

  2. My grandparents just passed away within 10 days of each other, as we go through pictures, we are discovering that they don’t have that many of them or their kids growing up. This is a huge gift for you and your family to have this and I think it is so important to keep and pass this kind of stuff onto the next generation. I will never again think I am taking too many pictures. What a great blog and post!

    • So sorry for the loss of your grandparents… there are never too many pictures to save the memories… I gave my step mother a lot I had of me and my dad and never got them back… its definitely a little heart breaking…

  3. My favorite thing about old pictures like this are when even the family horse has a place of honor. It would be like how everyone gathers around the family car or the dog being included. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  4. They are really amazing pictures. Quite romantic in a way. Old pictures have something that new pictures never seem to get. There is this elegance and class- or maybe its the way people dressed. So interesting to find such things like this. Congrats on FP.

  5. What a great post! Last week I got an email response to an inquiry I left at in 2005. Found out that my great grandfather is the grandfather of David McCullough, the pulitzer prize willing historan from Pittsburgh. This makes David McCullough my father’s first cousin. We know nothing about this side of the family due to an ugly divorce that took place in the 1930s. Fascinating stuff. I have a post about this called “It’s the DNA, Stupid!” Will come back with the link.

    Congrats on FP-ed. This will be one hell of a ride–I promise!


  6. Those are great photos! One of my aunts is crazy-intense about genealogy and has all sorts of information about our family history, but I don’t really trust her researching skills. ๐Ÿ˜€ So I haven’t looked at it that closely. I do love reading about my family’s clan roots in Scotland, but there’s not a ton of information about my clan, either.

    • Scotland how awesome! When my dad and I were in Ireland we happened upon a little museum where the curator looked up the history of our name and then wrote all kinds of things for us in Gaelic like the original spelling of our name etc… was fantastic!

    • This part of my family came from Ukraine and settled in the South Side of Pittsburgh… and with the exception of my mom leaving for a while when my dad was in the army and an early careerist we’ve been in the area ever since…

  7. What a treasure trove of photos and the best part? You know who the people are in them! The saddest box I ever opened was a collection of photos of unknown ancestors .. their names died with whomever had lovingly saved them. So, treasure that scrapbook and document-document-document!

    Your Pap was one handsome man ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers, MJ

  8. That is superb, I somehow lack at gaining on family history, but I’m trying to do the right thing.
    I really like the black and white photos, they speak to you as if old, and are indeed precious.

  9. Love the pictures. I have many old pictures of family members I can’t identify, and sadly, there is no one left alive that can identify them for me. I wish my parents had written something on the back of them.

    • There are some pictures where we don’t know who anyone is, my grandmother is partly blind so she can only help to a certain degree but it is definately like there is something missing when you don’t know who you are looking at…

  10. Hi – I love your post with the family photos. I’ve been doing some of the, as well. You’ve inspired me to blog a little more about it – I thought maybe only immediate family would be interested, but I love your pics so maybe other people might like some of mine, too.

    Check me out at

    I have a few pictures of my beloved Grandfather under the category “Genealogy”.

    and keep up the nice blog!

    Sherrie Allan

  11. Digging into family history can be fun (it can also be painful or undesirous for some). Some of my close and distant family members have dug into various lines of our history and genealogy that I can trace some lines all the way back to the late 1400’s.

    But it’s the closer history that’s more important because it impacts us so much more so. And pictures… they can often say so much, especially when you never got to meet the person – and yes, black and white photos, there’s something about them!

    • I completely understandabout the information you find that aren’t so fun, we’ve definitely come across some of those, yet they are still part of our history… This line we can only trace to the 1900s when the immigrated, other lines we can go back a lot further but that’s another blog post for another day! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Such nice photos- your pap was a very handsome young man! Always when looking at old pictures I cannot help but wonder what life was like back then… we moan, but boy, do we have it good compared to a lot of people back then…. with the recession and the wars looming up…not easy times ahead for them…. I have just also joined Ancestry- trying to find some long lost relatives who migrated to America long time ago… I find it all so facinating!

  13. Great family treasures! I love learning about my family history as well. It’s such a wonderful gift for future generations.

  14. Pingback: How AWESOME! | While I Breathe, I Hope

  15. This is a wonderful page! It’s up to us to put the pieces of our puzzle together. Right? Nice job and congratulations on being FP’d. I think your dad and grand dad are very close by you.
    PS My hope is to gather family stories as you are doing, compile them and self-publish a book for family…brothers, sister, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, etc.

  16. It’s wonderful to see another blog remembering family.

    I just posted on my father-in-law, a holocaust survivor, who speaks and represents those who are not here to stand witness for themselves. His family, his community, his country.
    Knowing family history is valuable in so many ways.
    When I find life difficult, I know I am blessed, to have someone to emulate. To show me how to be strong in the face of my small life trials.
    How blessed are you to have this representation of your family.
    Thanks for posting these unique pictures.

  17. You may have caught the bug…the family history bug, I mean. It’s very contagious and absolutely the best thing you could catch. I recently started blogging my family history so that all the generations of our family (scattered all over North America) can see the photos (some dating back to the mid-1800s) and hear the stories that have been passed down through the generations. And it’s kept me motivated to continue working on and complete all the genealogy projects. Your pictures are wonderful…thank you for sharing them with us.

  18. What wonderful photos! And congrats on being FP!

    I’ve been researching my family history for several years now and the photos are also my favourite part of the journey. I’m thankful that my Grandpa has a cupboard full of photos of my Great Grandparents and some even older! I could quite happily sit for ages sorting and looking through them all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Those snaps are really great! I love how photos can breathe life into people we’ve never known and breathe life into memories that we’ve put to sit on shelves in our minds! Perhaps the things I love most about old photographs is the sepia tones and the wrinkles that give it such a worn and well-loved effect/look. It’s always good to start the day with a smile – thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Excellent Blog, Natalie! What a wonderful journey for you. Congratulations and many blessings. I love the photos of your Pap posing at the monument and working in the mill. They remind me of my beloved grandfather who also served in WW2 and worked hard with his hands at the gas station he owned. We are from the Philadelphia area. Oh, and Poppy was a “looker” the same as your Pap. There is something about that era… genteel… romantic… beautiful. Continued success on your blogging experience. I am looking forward to reading more of your blog. It looks amazing! I am currently working on getting one up and running all about faith, family, and recovery. I love the pictures of you as a little girl. You have a wonderful and pure spirit. May God continue to bless you on your journey of Faith, Hope, and Love. Sincerely, Val Marie

  21. Nice pics. Wish I had such an accurate family history…I barely know anything about my grandparents’ generation. Congrats on being freshly pressed

  22. Absolutely! Yes! 100% You are right. Good job. Amen. I love the cereal bowls by the blinds. Latter Day Saints do geneology work. You should join that church. I am a LDS. Check out my website if you want to learn more. Click on the “I believe” badge.

  23. I love this kind of stuff! That is why I am so wrapped up in that series on T.V., “Who Do You Think You Are?” I enjoy watching people unravel their family history and find out who their family is and where they came from. I would love to be able to find out my family history and see how far back I can go and where it would lead.
    How great that you are able to trace back to some of your family and find these pictures to share with your own children!

  24. Thanks for sharing family photos–and so much of yourself. And congrats on being FPed. Although I am a bit more than twice your age, we share a lot of things: I have had 4 surgeries since 2006, just finished a doctorate, am overweight and trying to take better control of my health, and love the connections to family through history and photos. You will do well with your degree, just take it one day at a time.

  25. You are very lucky to have these photos! I absolutely love old family photos like these, and it’s funny because now we try to imitate the way these photos looked naturally with Photoshop.

    It’s amazing to see what our loved ones looked like in their hey-day. I couldn’t agree more with you on your last paragraph – though I was lucky enough to have him for 12 years of my life, my grandfather fought in WWII, worked like a dog, and loved my grandmother so much I think he died of a broken heart shortly after she passed away. Great post, thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Natalie, you have inspired me to begin putting all my old family pictures together for daughters and grandkids. When I die there will be no record for them to know who all these people are . Grandkids seem uninterested in family history. Hoping that someday they will value their ancestors.

  27. I’m a sucker for family history too – we’ve traced our family tree back to 1615. I also adore old photogrpahs – even of relatives that I’ve never met. It’s also the reason that I’ve set up this Identifamily blog page.

    Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ˜‰


  28. Natalie,

    I too am starting the search into my family history, the passing of my maternal Grandmother in 2008 is what kicked my search into high gear. I started with the U.S. Census records which is a great place to start; I’ve been able to trace my history back to 1850. The pictures you have posted are great! Thank you for sharing them.

  29. Great post. Love the photos. I have several of my grandparents and greatparents and love looking at them. My grandmother was a model and I love looking at her old photos and wondering why on earth I didn’t look anything like her! ๐Ÿ™‚
    My grandfather was big into looking up our family history and even went to Germany to do some research. It was definitely a neat experience!

  30. So happy you’re able to trace your roots and find what you’re looking for. (isn’t technology great!)

    As a side note, pictures back then were so.. classy. (I guess that’s why we call them classics.) Loved the breakfast table shot.


    Aun Aqui

  31. Wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing them. I inherited three boxes of black and white photos when my Gramma died. I like to think of these boxes as my Black and White Time Machine.

  32. I am from Vermont. My son will be 6 this July. He was born calling my father Pappa. My mother thought it was cute. Eventually my father told my son Ezra to stop calling him Pappa and to call him Jim Bernard. I do not know why my dad said that, if it was regional or dymensia setting in.

  33. We’ve done family trees in our families and although it took hours of labor it will be well worth passing on to generations. Black and white photos have such character and I love how in the really old photos, no one ever smiled. Pretty funny. Great photos you have here.

  34. Hi Natalie,
    I had a very special relationship with my grandfather until he passed away a quarter century ago. Even though, like you, I revel in flipping through faded shriveled sepia or b&w photos with jagged edges, I’m also fortunate to have retained memories of how his wrinkly hands looked and felt when they clasped mine…
    Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚


  36. Hi there – what an adventure, and how exciting to get all these old photos. I met one of my grandmother’s when I was 2. She visited from Germany for a year, and I actually still have a few memories from her time here. It was great to reconnect many years later when I spent some time in Germany. Family is such a gift. Enjoy!

    Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  37. My last grandmother died November 2010. She was living with my parents in Montpelier, VT. I was not far away. She had Reminisce magazine coming to her, which you all might be interested to know has old photographs in it like this and also you can send in stories, pictures and find out about antiques. It is a lovely magazine. I had it sent to me for a while.

  38. Old photos are like old shoes, they make you feel good. What bothers me, is that the photos I took during my lifetime are now the “old” photos of the family.
    Great post.

  39. How exciting to start your first scrapbook. I love to scrapbook, it’s a fun way to display family memories. I’ve recently decided I’m going into digital scrapbooking so I can start writing down all the memories beside my photos. Just something to keep in mind. The photos are great!

      • Natalie/JenniferMarie – I just had to reply to you as I am SO passionate about family nostalgia that I launched a family-life stories website (free to use) after my mother died. I discovered I was pregnant and I was desperate for her memory to be more than just a photo without any stories. The site makes you a ‘lifeline’ in chronolgical order where you can put your photos and the stories that accompany them to together side by side. You can share online too. It’s nostalgialicious! We use it as a family journal/scrapbook, so when my own kids grow up and I’m gone, they will have our precious times together all laid out in the order they happened. I hope it proves useful to you and yours!! Write it all down whilst you still can!

  40. Beautiful pictures, beautiful historyโ€ฆlots of love. Makes me think of my late dad. Didn’t get a chance to know either grandfather but grandmothers I still have. You are blessed. There are not many pictures of either grandparents in my family, and definitely not enough pictures of my dad. Makes me think and feel things I try not to feel, wanna dig more, especially pictures. I miss all of them. Thank you for sharing my new friend ๐Ÿ™‚

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