52 Documents in 52 Weeks #7 – Bea Guirreri’s Award

Person of Interest: Beatrice I. (Repsher) Guirreri
Relationship: Paternal grandmother

Source Citation: “AARP award,” newspaper clipping, New Jersey Herald, 02 May 1990 (penned), p. C-3. Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ. Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.

Document Description: A clipping from a local newspaper consisting of a picture with a caption.

aarp-award-beatrice-guirreriDocument Scan and Transcription:
AARP award
Bea Guirreri, at right, was given a Community Service Award from the American Association of Retired Persons, Chapter 44, at a recent meeting held at Harmony Lodge, Andover Twp. Guirreri was selected by the chapter’s board of directors for her outstanding volunteer contribution to the community. The award was presented by Robert Urich, assistant state director, AARP.

Analysis: This short little blurb is a glimpse into my grandmother Bea’s life in May of 1990. I think someone sent her this article as the penned “New Jersey Herald” and date at the top are not in her handwriting of which I have numerous examples.

What genealogical purpose does this newspaper clipping serve? Why even save it when it doesn’t give me a death date, a court filing to pursue, any marriage information, or family related tidbits. It’s important because it places my grandmother at a particular place in a particular time. The Board for Certification of Genealogists has a lovely definition of genealogy on their home page:

“Genealogy is the study of families in genetic and historical context. It is the study of communities, in which kinship networks weave the fabric of economic, political, and social life. It is the study of family structures and the changing roles of men, women, and children in diverse cultures. It is biography, reconstructing each human life across place and time. Genealogy is the story of who we are and how we came to be as individuals and societies.”

This small newspaper clipping weaves into the story of my grandmother’s life. Sure, she was a mother, a widow, a sister, a wife. But she was also a contributor to her community. In the biography of her life, her volunteer work with numerous organizations gives me (and those who would be researching her after I’m long gone) a feel for the types of things that were important to her. In the context of community, this caption lets me know that people thought her work within the community was worthy enough to be recognized. In the fabric of history, I learn from this blurb that retired people were important enough to society for them to create a whole association around them.

It also provides me a picture of Beatrice at the time. I see how she’s dressed, what jewelry she’s wearing, the way her hair is styled, the fact that she’s wearing glasses and what type they are. I see how the gentleman who is presenting the award is dressed and get a peak at another woman in the background. If I didn’t already know when the picture was taken, all those clues might help me date the article. I know that Bea was born in 1910,[1] so I can see that in 1990, at eighty years old, her hair is still dark and she’s still in good health. It tells me she used the nickname “Bea” often enough that the reporter used that in the caption. It tells me that she’s been married at least once because she’s using the last name “Guirreri” when her birth name was Repsher.

This is an original source in that it’s the actual newspaper clipping taken from the paper at the time it was printed. The information contained within it is primary in that the newspaper photographer/reporter was at the event at the time and witnessed Beatrice receiving the award. It was recorded (as published in the paper) very close to the time of the event. The evidence is direct only if the research question is a very specific one of “When and what awards did Beatrice receive?” This clipping is more useful in constructing a timeline of Beatrice’s life than providing detailed information related to birth or death or marriage.


Don’t overlook any little piece of evidence in looking at the people in your family tree. Even the little things help to construct timelines and breath life into your ancestor’s everyday activities.

[1] Pennsylvania Department of Health, birth certificate 1234010-1910 (1910), Beatrice Irene Repsher; Division of Vital Statistics, New Castle.


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