Thursday, January 31, 2013

Time Travel at the Microfilm Machine

So there I was tonight, visiting my local Family History Center looking at the microfilm I ordered from Salt Lake City.  It's church records from a little town called Triebswetter located in what is now western Romania.  These baptism church records were from the 1700s and in Latin so I was slowly cranking through.

Some of the clergymen wrote very neatly, some not so much.  The records are in date order and when a new year came along, sometimes the person who wrote it drew a few extra flourishes.

And then there was this guy:

How great is he?

And this is why genealogy is fun.  Suddenly, without warning, you remember you are looking at real people - not just records and dates.  Real people who lived real lives.

This clergyman sitting there drew that happy little house, what looks like a rose, a gravestone, a dove and what might actually be a dragon with a food bowl?

I love this guy.  :-)

The year is 1776.  It's the end of December in a small town in central Europe.  Long dark nights and cold short days.  No electricity, no paved roads, no hot running water.  Far away in the rebellious English colonies in the new world George Washington is crossing an icy river.

It's also the Christmas season - maybe there has been some genial imbibing to celebrate?  Or maybe my clergyman was looking forward with excitement to the new year?

Whatever the reason, this clergyman doodled the heck out of this paper when all he needed to do was write the numbers of the new year.

He not only doodled, but he doodled in the church baptism book - kind of important stuff!  It made me smile.

And as I was hunched over my microfilm machine looking at this sheet, hundreds of years away, this clergyman hunched over this book, drawing these figures.

It was a very cool moment.  :-)


  1. That is so cool! I imagine it never occurred to him that his artistry would be appreciated 236 years later. That would be like us drawing something that was admired in the year 2249. He probably thought we'd all have flying cars by now, if he knew what a car was.

  2. That is so cool! It totally looks like a dragon! Wouldn't you love to know what he was thinking?

  3. That's wonderful. Always wondered what boys doodled before there were cars and airplanes!

  4. Wonderful. I think they are, from L to R, a goose, a beehive with bees in attendance, a rose, a chicken with food bowl and chick house in the background, and then a house (with Jack's bean stalk, perhaps?). Thanks for sharing this - it brings home how much more enjoyable it sometimes is reading original, rather than transcribed, records, even if it takes longer and is a lot more effort.

  5. I wonder if he was smiling as he doodled. Such a cool find.