Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Kathryn in America: Prologue to Kathryn Newland's "Family Records"

Kathryn Newland’s “Family Records” (1978)

3/15/87 Found in G-ma’s cedar chest. We had long tried to get her to do this and she resisted doing so, saying “Who could possibly be interested?” Until today, 3 days after her death, we doubted she had written anything.  –Jim and Doraine Newland


So before Mr. ATK and I left for Kyrgyzstan, we spent about three week in Guntersville, Alabama visiting PapaTK. We also went to Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans -- but that is neither here nor there.  While at PapaTK's home, I stumbled across a photocopy of 50 handwritten pages of memoirs, written by my father's aunt Kathryn, who immigrated with her parents to America in the early 1900s from Finland. Well, this memoir was written in 1978 and looks like it was discovered and photocopied upon Kathryn's death in 1987. I read it and thought it was really interesting. I imagine I met Kathryn sometime when I was little, but I don't remember, which is too bad, because she sounds like a really interesting person.

I asked PapaTK if it was okay for me to type up the memoirs (at the very least for posterity as I don't see that paper copy holding up for very long.)  He said it was a good idea and so I spent my last days in Alabama furiously transcribing this memoir. And, though it isn't very long, it was sometimes hard to read the handwriting--especially the Finnish words (because I do not speak any Finnish.)  I managed to finish, however, and so I thought I would share installments of it on ye olde blogge.

I think it is important to understand the past, and I especially appreciate having a first person account of immigrant life in rural Wisconsin in the early 20th century. It is interesting to see what life events she found significant enough to include and to see how our culture and lives have changed in the past hundred years.

Now, I struggled with deciding whether or not to correct/change punctuation and grammar to make it more in line with our current standards.  I mean, it's not like it's written in "olde" English or anything, but I imagine there have been some changes in grammar and punctuation over time (like how we use abbreviations like WI instead of Wis. or MN instead of Minn.) Ultimately, I decided it's her voice so I should just transcribe it as is. She hand wrote over 50 pages of her life story and I'm just transmitting it to anyone interested in reading it. I asterisk-ed a few things, though--those are all my asides.  I tried to keep them brief.  Usually, I just mention how someone is related to me.

Oh, and lastly, apologies for any spelling errors in the Finnish words. Like I said, I do not know Finnish and from what I can tell, they use all together too many vowels in their words. Consonants are your friends, folks!


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