Family History Month: A True Story of Finding Family in the Archives

28 Oct

As Family History Month in October 2013 closes out, another family history holiday begins: Dias De Los Muertos/Days of the Dead, November 1 and 2.  Family and friends gather to remember departed loved ones during this traditional holiday, with Aztec roots, from Mexico. Many American communities with Mexican American and Mexican populations also celebrate Dias De Los Muertos.

Full disclosure: This entry is not written by an Arizona Historical Society librarian/archivist, but I am an educator with AHS.

I want to tell you about the importance of archives and librarian/archivists in learning family history.  In this instance, my family history, and the role the Arizona Historical Society played.

My grandfather, Feliz Ruelas, was born in Tucson, Doña Ana County, New Mexico in 1860 before Arizona became a territory. He died in 1930, decades before I was born.  Growing up I never saw a picture of him.  I wondered what he looked like and who in the family might resemble him.

I heard that information about the family might be available at the Arizona Historical Society, so I went over to check it out.  Bottom line, I found a lot of information, including the first photo I ever saw of my grandfather!

If not for knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly staff in the AHS library/archives, my interest in family history and Arizona history might not have developed.

So, the next time you visit any library/archives be sure to thank the amazing dedicated staff who help you with your research.

One more thing—several cousins and my baby brother resemble our grandfather.

PC 1000-Portrait-Ruelas, Feliz-#

PC 1000-Portrait-Ruelas, Feliz-#18225.  As always, if you would like to use any of the photos seen here on the blog please contact ahsref@azhs.gov for information on image reproduction.

Archivists’ note:  We’d like to thank Mary Ann for sharing her story of finding her relatives in the archives.
The photograph accompanying this post is one of several photographs of Mary Ann’s grandfather Feliz Ruelas. The picture information tells us that this was taken at his first ranch, Ruelas Ranch, near Patagonia around about 1885. He had just run a race on the horse pictured here.

Another photograph of Mary Ann’s relatives, this one of her Aunt Adelina Ruelas, was chosen to be put online as part of the digital reunification of the Mexican Heritage Project. You can view that photo online through the Arizona Memory Project or come in to the Arizona History Museum and check out the Mexican Heritage Project exhibit where this photo is also being displayed.

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