” Looking up at a giant copy of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives & Records, a young girl promptly decided the building should add a time machine to go to the past.
“We are scientists of the past,” said the girl, wearing an enormous navy robe and carrying her requisite magnifying glass to examine historic documents.
She was one of five local youngsters who got a tour of the National Archives on Trapelo Road yesterday, and a chance to look up information about their ancestors.
Archives Education Specialist Anne Davis asked the kids how far back their ancestors go in Massachusetts, which prompted an immediate and confident answer from one girl: “75,000 years!”
They weren’t entirely certain about where their great-grandparents were born, but were happy to guess.
“Um, mine was born on the Mayflower!” one girl shouted, before her mother clarified that her family could trace its ancestry to those who came over on the pilgrims’ ship.
A few of the kids had Italian ancestry, which, Davis noted, is very common.
The kids got to examine passenger lists and an old Census form. Davis prompted them to try and find President Abraham Lincoln on the list.
With the aid of their magnifying glasses, they looked carefully, with lots of giggling, until finally, an exuberant shout: “Found him!”
They also found the names “Mary” and “Robt” on the same page, and two photographs of the 16th president.
Davis explained that Lincoln looked older in the second picture because he decided to grow a beard after an 11-year-old girl wrote to him and told him he’d look better and more distinguished if he had one.
The kids were spellbound as Davis gave them a history lesson, telling them many Americans were conflicted about whether to support “the young lawyer from Illinois without much experience.”
Even after he became president, she said, he still filled out a Census form “just like everyone else.”
Next, the kids examined materials from another family from “more modern times,” Davis said, handing out folders with historic documents, photos, and passenger lists relating to the von Trapp family.
The von Trapps came to America in 1939, according to the manifest list of alien passengers for the United States, to escape the Nazis.
Their story was the inspiration for the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music.”
The story of Maria von Trapp, her husband, Georg von Trapp, and their family coming to America is detailed at the National Archives Museum, she said.
“They escaped from the war, came to the U.S. for freedom, and settled in the U.S. and became citizens. You find these documents where? Here at the National Archives,” said Davis.”
Link to Joyce Kelly´s article at the Daily News Tribune