Aunt Anne, a precocious #33, and #32
Sure, I’m #33, probably known most of all for being Aunt (or Great-Aunt) Margaret’s daughter – you know, the one that you know you’re related to but you’re not exactly sure if I’m your niece, or your cousin, or whatever.  I know it’s confusing and believe me it’s led to some awkward situations – like the time when they tried to put my brother (#32) and me in the picture of Uncle Charles’ grandchildren only to realize whoops…we weren’t actually his grandchildren.  And people wonder why I have issues. 

I am Denise the Niece.  Unless I’m your cousin. Or in #32’s case, your sister.     

Maybe some of you remember when I was a little kid.  I was at times precocious, at times a bit shy, and at times a big cry-baby (I have a lot of memories of crying at parties when I was little…I’m hoping they’re just false memories!)  I’ve grown up a lot since then. 

So, who am I now?  And what’s that have to with this website? 

1.       I’m an archivist.  I have a professional obligation to preserve archival materials and ensure that they are accessible to the public.  Seriously.  I took an oath.  What’s that mean to you?  Well, I am responsible for preserving our family records and photographs – at least those in my custody –  but also, it’s my duty to make sure that you, the family, have access to them.  Why should I be the only who gets to see Max Schellhardt’s passport?  Maybe Susie-Q Schellhardt in Dubuque* wants to see it for a school project.  Now, I can’t exactly take the passport on a whistle stop tour through the country showing it to every Tom, Dick, and Harry Schellhardt because that much handling isn’t good for me or the passport.  What I can do though is scan it and put it on this website so everyone can see it.  See, I’m preserving the passport AND giving you access to it.  You know what that makes me folks?  One smart archivist cousin.   

2.       I’m a student of history.  Well, I was.  I mean, I got my degree in history.  What’s a girl with a history degree do?  She works at a supermarket, then a law firm, then an accounting firm, until finally she gets her act together and goes to grad school to become an archivist (see #1).  Anyway, as a student of history, I’m interested in the historical narrative, the trends, the perspectives, the whos and whats and whys.  It’s why I hung out at the adult table when I was a little girl – I was listening in to find out all that stuff.  

3.       I’m a writer who blogs.  Or a blogger who writes.  The chicken and the egg – I’m still trying to figure it out.  I’m a story teller and I like hearing and sharing stories.  That’s what I want to do here – come together and share our stories. 

4.       I’m sarcastic.  I’m getting help for it but it still comes through from time to time. 

5.       I’m obsessed with ensuring other people’s privacy.  My privacy?  Eh, not so much – I blog about my life.  Aside from photos of me in the 90s, I’m an open book.  Most of the pages in this website are password protected so no one makes off with our photographs.  I follow the same rules that the government does – the dead doesn’t have privacy protection.  So, basically, I didn’t ask for their permission to post their pictures.  The rest of you, I won’t post unless I ask or you send me something.  (I have to ask retroactively in a few cases!)   

6.       I’m not a genealogist.  Shocking.  Sure, I like family trees especially if it involves the Kennedys.  But I want to know how Max and Anna met, why they went to Germany in the early 1930s, who got the most presents at Christmas.  I don’t care too much about who Anna’s great-great-great-great grandmother was.  Luckily, we have a branch of the family that’s already figured all that out so we’ll have to rely on their expertise in this area.

7.       I’m not a techie/computer whiz/programmer.  This website is literally a drag and drop operation.  It took me three days to figure out how to make a sub-page.  Honestly, it’s probably not the best format for creating a family website – especially one where we want to share and upload photos from different people.  But I was all hyped up and paid for it before I realized there were better options out there.  We can reassess in a year…if we’re still around in a year.

8.       I have cats.  You just need to know that.      

That’s who I am.  Who are you?  

*For the record, there is no
Susie-Q Schellhardt in Dubuque...
that I know of!



Gerri Stephano Snyder
01/26/2013 7:05am

I am Franny Horn Stephano's daughter, I believe I am your second cousin once removed. (I think your mother and my mother were second cousins, but I could be wrong - I have to look it up!) I thought your home page was wonderful. Since I couldn't go any further on your site because of privacy issues, I am reading all of the sites listed concerning it. Love, Gerri

01/27/2013 8:45am

Hi Gerri,

Thank you so much for visiting! Let's see your mom was my grandmother's first cousin so that makes us...let's just call it even and say we're cousins! I was so very sad to hear about your mom's passing. Seeing her in November was such a delight...she was quite the lady. I hope my mom passed along the password to you (the only reason I did that was just in case anyone got skittish about me posting their pictures!) Love, Denise

12/10/2015 10:59pm

This is a great way to discover distant relatives. You also have a relatively extensive role in maintaining your family's record. But then this is an impressive way which I can probably adapt. I will visit your site more often to check your new post. Many thanks for sharing this.

08/07/2016 3:57am

I don't love cats as you are! I love dogs :)

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