The Little Book

This was the green well used birthday book that was kept by my wife’s mother.


While my wife Sandy, and I were going through boxes of old pictures that her parents had collected during their lifetime, we found a little green book. The cover title was simply Birthdays. Inside was a wealth of information concerning relatives and friends. We found most if not all the birthdays of relatives that were alive during my wife’s parents lifetime. Also listed were many family friends whose birthdays were to be remembered and noted. The genealogy information contained in this book was plentiful. I found birth dates that ranged from the 1800s and was a little startled to see my birthday listed.

Pages of family records and notes can be found in this book. Parts of some names have been edited out for privacy reasons.

The above image shows some of the information shown throughout this book. You will see under April 16 is listed Sandy’s father with the birth year of 1924. This year will be part of a story I will reveal shortly. Other information found is that cousin Thomas was born at 12:04 AM and weighed seven pounds and 14 ounces. Also listed is Sandy’s cousin Denise who was the person that introduced Sandy and me at a school dance. These pages are typical of what is found throughout the book.

This image shows a funny family story hidden and waiting to be told.

In the image above you will see under May 16 Sandy’s mother Doris Monty Lyon listed. Her name is written in ink and can be read easily. Next to the name faintly written with a pencil is the number 21 which is for the year 1921. For many years Doris had taken off a few years by saying she was born in 1924. She did this because she did not want her husband to know that she was older than him. This deception came to a crashing end when Sandy found her mother’s driver license with the correct date of birth. With this information in her hand, little Sandy went running to her father in the living room with her mother trying to stop her. The secret was out so when I saw the date written in the book obviously well after the original entry I could not help but chuckle.

We all should keep an eye out for these types of finds. Address books, newspaper clippings, baby books, yearbooks, recipe files, funeral cards, greeting cards, letters, school reports, and so many other items that could shed light on our family’s history. Perhaps in this digital age, we all should get a book like this and fill it with as much information as we can. Unlike what we have today that becomes outdated and discarded or erased a book can last many even hundreds of years. Most of us should take a little time away from our screens to make permanent entries in this type of book. Better yet give these as gifts at Christmas and encourage our friends and family to use them. By doing this, we may be laying the groundwork for genealogy finds in the future. Keep in mind the internet will never have everything and most of what it has is just cold records with a few stand-alone facts. The personal and true family history is what we will find in those old boxes of photographs and records. They will in many cases be written by the hands of our parents and grandparents and will show us what to them was important and worth keeping.

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45 Responses to The Little Book

  1. My Grandma had one of these little books very much like this one. My Mom has possession of it now. I also have a birthday book I write in, if I remember to keep it up!

  2. Eilene Lyon says:

    Great post! Yes to all the handwritten, non- digital records!!

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    Great find of this little birthday book! By the way even though I am an avid blogger making use of the Internet, I write all my posts on paper before I publish them. The Klopp family story has even been published as an old-fashioned book with photos. Your advice is a good one. Hopefully many blogging friends will follow it. Best wishes! Peter

  4. Candice Johnson says:

    I actually just found a birthday book of my mom’s today in a box my brother sent me after mom died. Papers and books he did not want and knew that I would want them. My parents birth cert, death certs, marriage cert and address books.

  5. What a great find! You must have been really chuffed.

  6. Another post filled with love for your family and good advice to other family historians. I agree that books will always be important.

  7. dlpedit says:

    I can’t wait to read “the rest of the story” (as Paul Harvey would have said)!

  8. KerryCan says:

    This is great! And I think you’re right–we’re losing a lot, with committing all our birthdates and appointments and photos to the computer.

  9. Sandi McGinnis says:

    Wonderful as always! I have found Lots of history in old letters from my maternal grandmother written to my mother. What a treasure to find these things.

  10. A true treasure! It’s funny a daughter recently called and asked me if I had a record of her past addresses – I kept old address books (she needed info for a military paper) Great advice! Great post!

  11. heatherrojo says:

    I recently found a wedding guest book, and with the help of the oldest relatives in my family we identified almost everyone in the book. The best names were the childish scrawls of cousins before I was even born!

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I inherited a book from my mother listing all the presents at my baby shower. Very touching find.

  13. Amy says:

    What an incredible find! Wonderful! It reminds me of when I found my aunt’s baby book with the names of everyone who brought a gift and visited when she was born in 1917. Enjoy!

    • chmjr2 says:

      I am already getting ideas for family stories from this book. Many people have commented about similar finds they have that also have me looking for more items like this book. I bet your aunt’s baby book has many stories to discover and tell.

  14. straberiwine says:

    This is an amazing find!

  15. Sheryl says:

    My mother had a similar book with birthdays. Until I read this post, I hadn’t thought of it in years. I wonder whatever happened to it.

  16. How fun to find a birthday book. More space than the family Bible. I have found some info on the back of needlepoint too.

    • chmjr2 says:

      The truth is that we never know when or where we will find family information. What we must do is keep our eyes open and hope we recognize it when we see it. Also you are so right so much more space than the family Bible.

  17. My aunt kept a book like that. It is so useful for family history

  18. higginsmj says:

    Another great read! What a treasure trove of stories you have in that little green book! I agree, there is nothing like the paper documents… holding history in your hands.They bring me a lot of joy too. Although cataloging these said documents is another matter! Fortunately, I am the repository of many family documents, including letters to my great grandmother from English cousins from the late 19th and early 20th century. Very precious! Thanks so much for sharing.

  19. What a great find. Our ancestors documented everything by hand which I think is a great lesson to be learnt by current generations. Who knows what will happen in the digital world and precious information like you found might be lost forever. I have found similar treasures – bibles can be a wealth of information. My grandmother wrote birthdays in her bible, along with other great information. Like you, I only recently found a notebook where my great aunt recorded family birthdays.

    • chmjr2 says:

      I also worry about this digital age and what will happen to written records. Letter writing is all most a thing of the past. Just from that alone look what will be lost.

  20. Anne Pugh says:

    What a find! I have a birthday book from my childhood, which I will now keep for my children. I hadn’t thought of it as something of interest to them but perhaps it will be.

    • chmjr2 says:

      You really never know what items from the past will find new meaning in future generations. I have often wondered about those old photographs that we see in many blogs and if the peopled pictured had any idea how they would be shown so many years later. I wish I had kept more of these items over the years.

  21. mymindlessdrivel says:

    These little books must have been popular about that time. My grandfather had one, a Daybook, given to him by a little boy who was his outfit’s mascot (don’t have all the details on that) which he carried throughout WWI. After the war, he added other little tidbits until he outgrew it and went on to larger journals of a similar nature, but he kept a journal of this kind most of his life thereafter. Quite a treasure!

  22. Robbie says:

    My Gran had one of these and recently it came into my hands. She died in 1993 so there are many grandchildren and great grandchildren whose names haven’t made it to Gran’s book and I’m tempted to bring it up to date. I feel, on the one hand, that I am preserving more of the family story as one might have done in a family bible handed down through the generations. However there’s a part of me that is reluctant to ‘desecrate’ her lovely little book.
    In the front of her book there is a note about when it had been given to her (1912) and that the person who had given it to her later that year became her stepfather.
    What little treasures our ancestors have left for us.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Whatever you do with the book is the right answer. What I might do is to put a note in the front of the book saying how you got the book and who you are. Then fill in the events after 1993 to bring it up to date. Future generations may be very thankful you did. That is just one thought about what you could do. Just having that book is a treasure. If you have not already you could write a blog post about the book your grandmother and what if anything you plan to do with it. Thanks for reading my blog and your comment.

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