Using antiques

When ancestor information is scant

Consider antiques as a way to profile your ancestors

My goal with this blog is to bring my ancestors to life as a way to teach my children their past. I create ancestor profiles and stories using documentation, photos, journals, and heirlooms at hand. I supplement with “facts” found using sources such as Ancestry, Family Search, and cousins.

What happens when there is limited information about an ancestor, but you do have something they owned? Begin with the item, and add what you know, hunches and memories included. This may not be as easy as it sounds. For another look at how to flesh out a story, take a peek HERE.


I profiled my grandpa using the furniture he made for me when I was a child. You can read that post HERE.


Here is another attempt. When I was very young, I met a woman named Agda (“Ag” rhymes with blog, followed by the “da”). She lived alone in a tiny apartment which we visited several times. A very sweet woman, she was the step-mother of my grandpa.

I recall one visit with her seated in a chair in her living room. I stood in front of her after we arrived. She wore a floral dress with a white, crocheted shawl draped over her shoulders. Her hair was pinned at the back of her head. She held my hand. I recall her gentle touch and smile, and that it was important to grandpa that we visit Agda.

haggie john and agda wedding photo_30 Jan 1905_shared by milton campbell

John and Agda Haggie, photo courtesy Milton E. Campbell

In my possession are three tiny items from Agda, and they are all I have.

Agda crocheted this “teacup and saucer” for me when I was a little girl. It sits on my kitchen window sill. When I see this trinket and think of its maker, I smile.

heirlooms_crotched teacup from Agda HaggieThis bookmark was made by Agda and also given to me when I was very young. They are made with lace trim and felt, and are embroidered on the top. The hair clip inside holds the hands together.

The last item, now that I am writing this post, is no where to be found. I will find it, though, as I do each Christmas when writing names on gift tags. I have a tag written in her hand that reads From Grandma Agda. It is similar to these:

heirlooms_christmas gift tags_

Can you see the glitter on the right tag?

I have personal memories, a few trinkets, photos from a cousin, and “facts” from web sources. It is enough to begin creating a profile. There is one more item I can add to Agda’s story. Agda was from Sweden, and she traveled home several times in her younger years. On one occasion, she brought back and gifted to my mother a thick, crystal vase. I’ll try to grab a photo next time I visit mom.


You may not have a lot of items to work with, but even a few as in this case will help you start the story process. Supplementary information from other sources can be added to complete your ancestor story.

If you’ve managed to create a story using a handful of antiques or heirlooms, let me know!

Happy Profiling! ❤

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