This is the drive entering the family property where generations lived, met, fell in love, married, raised children and made my family history.
As you know, I am researching the life and career of my great aunt, Marie T. Nichols, who was a violin soloist in the early 1900s. She studied first with Emil Mollenhauer in Boston and then in Berlin with Karel Halir and in Paris with Joseph DeBroux. She made her debut in Berlin in 1903 followed by performances in London and Paris. She made her US debut with the Boston Symphony in 1904. In early 1903, presumably with assistance from Herr Halir, she tested several instruments and selected a Gagliano. I understand that it passed to one of her own students after her death in 1954. Any suggestions on where to look for further information?
Have any of you read "The Midwife's Tale" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich? It is the journal of Martha Moore Ballard, a midwife in Hallowell, ME in the 1700's. Ms. Ulrich's book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1991. If you have, you have already visited with one of my ancestors. Martha Moore Ballard is my 5 x great grandmother on my mother's side. My effort to deal with the collective family history will begin on this side of the family with Martha Ballard's great grandson, my great- great grandfather, Charles Kendall Nichols.
Marie Thompson Nichols (1875 - 1954)
This is my Great Grand Aunt, concert violinist, teacher, Founding Chairman of the Music Department at Sarah Lawrence College, and the person who made me want to undertake this rather daunting writing project. Unfortunately, I never met her. She died about 2 1/2 years before I was born. She was my mother's beloved Great Aunt (known as "Auntie Maima") and her memories and stories of this talented individual brought her to life for me. Despite her central role in the family I found there were few documents detailing her life and career in family hands. The desire to know more about her led me to my first efforts at research and I am still looking for information. I am writing this family history by decades and Marie Nichols will be the driving force of the period 1900 - 1939. A few tidbits to peak your interest: She studied violin in Boston, Berlin, and Paris. She debuted in Berlin and toured the US and Europe. She was good friends with Mark Twain and his daughter, Clara Clemons, with whom she toured. I am hoping that I will hear from people who know something of her career or, perhaps, had a grandmother or great-grandmother who studied with her at Sarah Lawrence College. Feel free to post your comments with information or suggestions for further research. I look forward to hearing from you!
I think I mentioned somewhere that I am working on improving my understanding of and skills in the use of Microsoft Access. This project will only succeed if I can gather, organize and preserve all the photos and documents I have inherited and add to it the research I am doing to fill in the blank spots. The amount of data is too large for simple lists and cross-referencing by hand or in my head. MS Access is a relational database program. I know that ought to make total sense to me but I am a linear rather than global thinker. That is probably why I love, understand and feel comfortable with Excel spreadsheets. The term 'relational database' makes me break out in a nervous sweat. I have been watching free instructional videos online and I think that light has finally dawned; at least the jargon begins to make sense. I get it. Yes, I am proud of myself for being able to stretch and reshape my brain but I am also relying on help from a professional. A member of my writing group who does databases for a living will boost me over the rough spots as I set out to design my database. Thank you! I am sure he will have to explain many times why I can't make it do all the things I imagine it should be able to do. This project gave me an opportunity to break out a fresh new composition book (grey this time) to outline the basis and structure for the database and to collect the questions that buzz in my head. More about composition books later (I am addicted and since I can get them for .50 to $1 each it is an addiction I don't bother to fight).
There is so much information to catalog and relate to the appropriate people, places and times. I have been making lists for some time but lists won't serve the needs of this project. I have Micosoft Access on my computer and I have used it for simple projects. I will need a lot more information to make sophisticated use of this relational database. I found a free online course that may be a good starting point. It may seem like a side track and I wish I could afford to hire someone to take on this part of the project but that is not possible at this time. I didn't set out to become a database expert but we do whatever the project demands.
Author: Harriet Monroe
With this history in the form of a timeline I hope to explore my own family history and get to know my ancestors.