Secrets & stories: the detective work of a family archivist

The third time I met with Sister Michael Ellen was during the week of the Midwest’s polar vortex, and it had taken a toll on every part of the community. The power at Marywood had gone out, but luckily the sisters had one functioning elevator and some lights. Sister Michael Ellen guided me to a room she had chosen because the natural lighting made for a brighter setting.

Genealogy is a hobby that Sister Michael Ellen has come to appreciate and practice for the last 20 years. Unbeknownst to her, it is also something I have an appreciation for.

Her interest began when she took to researching a family story that connected them in relation with Thomas Edison. From this, she dove back hundreds of years into her family history, collecting information about her ancestors.

As we sat in the room, Sister Michael Ellen pulled out a bag with a few binders in it and opened them up. She had chosen them because she knows I enjoy writing and wanted to show me some possible projects I could undertake while making use of my writing skills. She gave me time to read what she had written, and with each new piece of information on her family history, I had more questions.

Our meeting went twice as long as expected, with information being shared on both sides, and we shared laughter and smiles as it was time for me to leave.

The more we meet, the more I realize how similar we are. We both have a love of family that reaches back generations, to family members whom we share a connection with yet have never met, some of whom we don’t even know stories about. Every time we meet, I leave feeling refreshed and ready to discover new facts about my own family and history, and for that I am so grateful.

About Isabella Buck

Isabella Buck is a senior studying English, journalism and communication at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She enjoys coffee shops, meeting new people and playing tennis for Aquinas. Isabella is excited to capture her sister's story and gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of faith. During the Spring of 2019 she was paired with Sister Michael Ellen Carling, OP; a Grand Rapids Dominican Sister.