Home Genealogies: Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?
Presentation by Beth Potter
House historian Beth Potter will talk about ways to flesh out the “biography” of a house … not the history of the building, but the stories of the people who lived there. Who celebrated birthdays in the living room, what recipes were created in the kitchen, were any residents in the military—those are just some of the questions that can be answered using newspaper records, church records, etc. Tracking down relatives of former owners can be a key, and Beth will give us some hints on how to do just that.
Presentation Handout: Home Genealogies: Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?, ©2022 Beth Potter [PDF]
Beth Potter started a “house history” business when she and her husband Ned bought an 1891 Victorian in Haworth, New Jersey—and she wanted to find out who had walked those hardwood floors in years gone by. Over the years, she’s researched and written about homes ranging from a mansion in Bernardsville, NJ, to a mill worker’s cottage in upstate New York. Her research skills got off to a good start with a career as a television news and documentary writer and producer in Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. For many years, Beth was a Trustee of the Bergen County Historical Society, and she’s also a founding member of the Northern Valley NJ Historical Society. Currently, Beth is on staff at the Haworth NJ Municipal Library, wearing many hats, including managing the local history room there and working on local historical projects, including video oral histories. She was also on staff for several years at the Ridgewood, New Jersey library, researching and writing house histories for the local history room there, the Bolger Heritage Center. Beth’s historical work has been featured in both the New York Times and the Bergen Record newspapers.
Banner Image: Van Saun House, Preakness Avenue & Singac Brook, Preakness, Passaic County, New Jersey, Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS NJ-166 (https://www.loc.gov/item/nj0736/)
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