Family History News and Views from Lisa Louise Cooke, host of The Genealogy Gems Podcast at www.GenealogyGems.com
Wow! That's a tough one. I was caught by the comment Sarah Shoemaker, the special collections librarian at Brandeis made.“Sometimes it’s the history of the item itself that speaks to the researcher."By donating the book with the story behind it documented, anyone, including the family and their descendants can see it without having to experience all the negativity they have felt from having it in the house.
Despite the horrific memories this “heirloom” book may currently generate within the family, the book does still exist. The book, alone, is a story within itself. How did the book come to be in the possession of the Nelson family? Why is it still there after 60+ years? Perhaps it was kept as a constant reminder of how they could never forget the horrific events of the past it represented. The book tells a story all of its own, far removed from the actual words’ encompassed within the book’s covers. Offensive as the book may be to the family today, it should be documented and perhaps saved in a museum or library or hidden away safely within the confines of a safety deposit box…hidden from public view. Destroying the book does not erase its existence but only reinforces what a powerful symbol it has become. Memories and heartache are indelibly etched upon the human heart--they cannot be erased.A book is only a representation of the author’s thoughts, fabricated or not, evil or not—not a representation of the thoughts of the reader who reads it. This book is definitely a part of the Nelson family’s past but does not define the Needham family’s present or future unless they allow it to do so.As genealogists, in my opinion, it is our obligation to document the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. All events of the past have brought us to where we are today.
Anonymous and Ms. Goodrum - well said! I am a current history major and studying the Holocaust this semester and agree this document holds value - value to teach the future about the thoughts and rationalities of Hitler with the goal of education. History and Genealogy go hand in hand - like Anonymous said - the good, the bad and the ugly all need to be documented. Because of the different opinions in the family regarding the document, I think they should donate it to a library/museum where those family members who want to see it can still have access to it and those who do not never again have to endure the reminders of that miserable part of history.
I feel it is an important part of history and should be donated to a library or museum. We have all seen the movie and read about the holocast. Now would be a good time to actually view the real information about it. It will probably be hard on the family to part with it. I think they would feel better about shareing the info for others to see.
I would probably keep the book as an important part of my family heritage. Everything that happens to us shapes us in some way. What doesn't kill you will only strengthen you. It is basically a symbol of that families strength! What a valuable piece of history.
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