Tomorrow’s history is Today

My love of history began literally at the knee of my great-grandfather when I was seven-years old. Many years later, I discovered the copy of the “tree” we were working on in his personal papers, in my childish script. How lucky is that? Both my grandfather and father have passed, and I have acquired the role of ‘family historian’!

My fascination with history has only grown stronger, and besides writing several books on local history, I have spent years doing genealogy professionally. Besides tracing heirs for attorneys, I have worked on locating the descendants of the 500 members of the Giessen Emigration Society that arrived in 1834 in St. Charles County. Locating the descendants of those buried at Sage Chapel Cemetery helped me prepare its nomination and subsequent listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Currently working on my latest book Archer Alexander, The Untold Story (working title) I work with his descendants, including the family of Muhammad Ali of which Archer is an ancestor, who live all across the United States.

Descendants of members of the Giessen Emigration Society at the Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America exhibit at the Missouri History Museum. Photo by Folker Winklemann

For many years as an educator, with programs about how to research your home’s history, and how to compile your family history (for the City of St. Charles Adult Education) I shared the tactics I have developed. As an archivist at St. Charles County Historical Society, and now at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum, I feel that there is a wealth of information on our ancestors that is untapped by many working on their family history, their property’s history, or those researching local history.

L-R John Griesenauer, Mary Stephenson and Booker Edwards. Photograph by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Now, we are all together, living in an historic time period that will be written for centuries I am sure. And while classes at the City of St. Charles are suspended, online education is being considered. Would you be interested? I am also considering how to share online classes on how to do an Oral History and Property Research? Please give me feedback on how we can each preserve our own history? We are all in this together, and I hope all of my friends are safe staying ‘at home’ during this historic time.

Dorris Keeven-Franke and Cecilia Nadal. St. Louis Magazine photograph.

Published by Dorris Keeven-Franke

Public Historian aka Storyteller, I like to share the stories of people and places and help others reconnect to their own past.

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