A few weeks back, I ran across a link on BoingBoing to an article on Slate.com. I saw that it mentioned old documents and since I’m a sucker for old documents, I gave it a read. If you’re also a fan of old documents, especially more interesting ones, than you’ll love this series of articles on a collection of old report cards and how the author used them to not only tell the history of these people, but to even connect them back to their descendants.

Four hundred little dramas, all sketched out on cardstock. Marie’s report card comes from a large batch of old Manhattan Trade School student records that I stumbled upon more than a decade ago and have been obsessed with ever since. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life poking around antiques shops, yard sales, and abandoned buildings, but these report cards are by far the most evocative, most compelling, and most addictive artifacts I’ve ever come across.

This sounds like something I would do if I ever ran across a batch of old documents. I’ve learned in the last decade of family research that sometimes you can find the most compelling information in your non-standard documents. “Non-standard” being something other than things like census or vital records. Not only do these records give you more information, sometimes they tell you stories. I personally find that stories make your ancestors seem more alive. More than just names and dates.

To anyone interested in history and even family history, I recommend reading his articles. He wrote (as of right now) 5 articles relating to these documents, so make sure you have some time.