Monday, August 6, 2007

Proper Storage of Historical Documents

Alamasu, Romania
County: Salaj
Hungarian alternate names: Varalmas; Nagyalmas
Jewish population 1900: 51
Jewish population 1910: 35
Jewish population 1930: 30
Most of the decline in those twenty years may be attributable to one 8 member family. However, there may have been more than three births, and additional departures.
Jewish population after 1944 transport to Auschwitz: 0 (source)

For personal reasons, I’m glad that family made it out. The year was 1912. My grandfather was 4. He remembered little, but an older brother, Ted, had obtained a sixth grade education before leaving. At least, that’s what he claimed in a note to the government that provided a translation of my grandfather’s birth certificate which they had obtained from Nagyalmas, and which revealed the information my grandfather had previoulsy given as his birth date was incorrect.

I recently discovered a school report I did in fifth grade on my grandfather’s immigration. I opened it without thinking I’d find much of interest. My sister had done a similar school report for the same teacher, and I knew we had been allowed to ‘make things up’. The purpose wasn’t to find out information about our family, but to show we had an understanding of the ‘immigrant experience.’

But, unlike my sister’s which was a pseudo-diary of my great-grandmother, and even the ‘real information’ would have been entirely secondhand from my grandfather, mine was ‘written’ by my grandfather, so I had the direct source, and mine also included photos and documents which he must have provided. In it there was a copy of the birth certificate, and the translation.

At least, that was my thought at first glance, and then I did a doubletake. The birth certificate wasn’t on white paper like the rest of the report. It was more yellowed than the rest of the pages. I talked to my mom, and she didn’t remember the birth certificate. I’ve decided it’s not a copy. Well, a copy of the original, but the copy that the Nagyalmas government sent, and I put it directly in my school report, to be discovered 27 years later. Brilliant.

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