Your Parents Before they were Parents

As you do the research on your family, one segment that might prove a bit easier is learning what each of your parents—your mother and father, did prior to their marriage. There just might be some fascinating details that might be overlooked.

Number one easiest method is if either parent is still living, is to interview each, or one asking about their spouse. Focus just on the years from when they are no longer a child / teenager until they married. For most, it would be age 18 to 25 for example. Some might have been in college, or started a job, or entered the military. The what and when plus details are what you need to gather and place in date order. Even if it is only a listing by dates and events, it is a start and more can be added later.

If your parents are not alive, next go to their siblings (your aunts and uncle), especially if your parent had an older sibling, they will tend to know what your parent did. If your parent had cousins they were close to, especially those near the same age, there is another excellent resource to interview. I learned a lot more about my mother from her cousin, who was like a sister to her.

Once you have some information, then you can check census records, military records, city directories and any information from a parent’s hometown museum.

Here is an example of my parents’ listing:

Mother – 1931 to 1941, attended several colleges and universities to earn her BS degree then a legal degree to become a lawyer. 1941- she applied to the FBI to be an agent (but turn down by Hoover because he did not want a female agent). Entered the Women’s Army Corps in 1942, had military training and stationed between 1942 to 1946 at various locations in USA. In 1946-1947 she was stationed in Germany to serve as an Army lawyer during the Nuremberg Trials. From 1947 to March 1949 she was still in the military rising from the rank of LT to Captain and stationed in various locations in US. Nov. 1948, she was introduced by mutual friends to a US Army/Air Force Captain on election day in VA. They became engaged within a few months and married in April 1949.

Father – 1926-1927 he worked in the shoe factories like his father in Haverhill, MA. In June 1927 he joined the US Army and was stationed over the next number of years all across the United States and various world locations including Pearl Harbor, Panama Canal Zone and Italy. He becomes a Captain in the US Air Force in the late 1940s. He was introduced by mutual friends while stationed in VA to his future wife, my mother and married in April 1949.

Photos: Nan and Harry in the military.

Related Blogs:

Family Events

Talk to Your Relatives

Tell Your Mother’s Story

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