Sunday, January 28, 2007

Assumption BVM Parish Jubilee Books

Assumption BVM parish began in 1911 and closed in 1989, it's buildings were torn down soon afterwards. It was one of the "west side" Detroit Polish parishes, one of the smaller ones. It just so happens that my mother and her family were members of the parish. Active members. I have been trying for years to get a copy of the parish's silver jubilee book to add to my family history collection. I know that my mother and other members of her family were mentioned in the book because Ceil Jensen, who extracted the surnames for the PGSA database (and whose family were also members of this parish) was kind enough to share with me a photo from the book that included my mother. And while I am very grateful to Ceil for her kindness, it's not the same as having my own copy of the entire book for my collection.

I often look up Assumption BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) Church in online data bases, eBay, libraries, and used book sellers hoping to find the Detroit parish's Silver Jubilee Book. I've had no problem finding jubilee books for Assumption BVM. The thing is, it's the wrong Assumption BMV parish. You see, Detroit had two churches with essentially the same name. One was The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (my mother's parish) and the other one is Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The second church parish was begun in 1928, was a much larger church, is not Polish, and is still a vital and functioning parish. It happens that it has a grotto on the parish grounds so it has gotten tagged with the name Assumption Grotto over the years but that's not its official name. Inevitably, when I look up the jubilee book for my mother's parish I find lots of results for other parish but none for hers. The only copy I know of that I could access for her Assumption BVM parish is in the Polish Museum of America in Chicago. I keep intending to get there to look it up but it just hasn't worked out.

I had the same experience Friday night when I was online perusing the ANSWER database for the Library of Michigan . I did a search for Assumption BVM like I always do and I came up with pretty much the same results that I always get (results for the newer parish but not for the older one). This time I took a closer look as I scrolled through the results and what did I find? A copy of "Assumption Grotto Silver Jubilee book 1911-1937". Hmm. Wrong church name, right dates. It was late in the evening when I found it, too late to call and ask a librarian to check it out for me. Could it be that they had a copy but it had been improperly cataloged? I couldn't help but get excited about the possibility. I've been looking for this book for soooo long...

So yesterday morning I grabbed my camera, jumped in the car, and drove up to Lansing (little over an hour's drive) to check out the situation. It was my lucky day! While the copy they had wasn't an original but a photocopy, it was still more than I had been able to access anywhere else! And bonus... they also had a photocopy of the parish's golden jubilee book! I didn't even know the parish had a golden jubilee book... I'd never seen a reference to it before (guess it was mis-cataloged too)! It was hard to hold still long enough to photograph both books. I was doing the happy-dance (aka the "good-time-polka" for those of us of Polish descent ;-), you know, the one every genealogist does when they make a major find? Boy, it's been a while since I've been dancing to that tune!

So the good news is I now have complete copies of the silver and golden jubilee books for Assumption BVM parish :-) The only fly in the ointment, so to speak, is that the books are almost entirely written in Polish so I can't read them :-(