I call them baby books. You may know them as something else. The picture with this post is the cover of my baby book, started by my mother shortly after my birth to record all the vital statistics and important events of my earliest days.
Baby books can be wonderful sources of family information. Some are simple, just a few pages, often given to young parents by local merchants. Others are more elaborate, ambitiously providing space to document every step and fall, every new tooth and each addition to an expanding vocabulary.
The real value of these books, of course, is the personal information they contain. Some parents were more diligent than others in maintaining them. Sadly, my mom quit adding information on me just a few weeks of my arrival.
Sean Sexton wrote this week on his Sean on Family History blog about the interesting information he gleaned about a brother after taking possession of his immediate family’s baby books. Here are just a few of the things you can find in these potential treasure troves:
- Baby books often list visitors and the names of people who sent baby gifts. Review these lists. These people were close enough to a family that they shared a special moment. They may have stories to share about the family, too.
- Depending on the detail of the books, clues to a family’s lifestyle may be found from the places they went, the things they did and the people they did them with.
- Those books given away by merchants often include ads that give a picture of commercial life in a community at that time. These clues are useful in placing the newborn’s early life in a community context.
- Photos are sometimes pasted into these books, too. They’re often more easily dated than those found in a shoebox and usually identify the people in them.
Writing prompt of the day: Seek baby books from family members and check them for pertinent family history information you can use in your project.