Encouragement for family ancestry slueths: Finding a Christmas present in the past

This December 1963 photo unlocked a few mysteries about our maternal grandmother

Often the Good Genes Genealogy Services team will encourage our fellow ancestry history seekers to review your family documents, spaces such as attics and garages, and other artifacts for clues to our family history.

We used our advice.

Searching through our grandmother’s boxes, we found cool materials that revealed brand new information about her job title at the United States’ only military air command headquarters.

Give yourself a present from the past. Happy searching!


Seated left, “Mama” Helen Wilks Owen Douthy — maternal grandmother of the Good Genes Genealogy Services team — was 45 years old when this photo was taken. She was a cast member and costume staff member of the Omaha, Nebr.-based The Repertory Players. She is pictured here as they celebrated the wrap of their play, “Antigone.” Antigone is a classic Greek tragedy story about “man’s relationship to man, to the state, and to the gods.” It is worth reading and viewing the drama that tells of the cruel fate inflicted upon the deceased King Oedipus.

This article opened brick wall

The above find was hidden in one of many scrapbooks of our Mama Helen. For the first time, we learned that her title at the Strategic Air Command’s Offutt Air Force Base was as a weapon systems division secretary. The article was published in the SAC newsletter. Recently, we confirmed that Mama Helen was indeed a “Hidden Figure,” much like the ladies depicted in the award-winning non-fiction work.

This paper ticket shares much about Mama Helen’s resolve to be true to her passion of serving in the theatre. She was still serving as a secretary for a major SAC official and her work location was about 32 miles from Mama Helen’s home. The show began at 8:30 p.m. on five Sundays through December 1963. Mama Helen arrived home late and had to rise early to report to work by 8 a.m. She never had a driver’s license and did not drive. She depended on shared transportation. During the winter months, the likely icy and snowy roads were a bit dangerous, yet our “Hidden Figure” always accomplished her mission to work on the government’s secret work assignments.

This is a blast from the past: telegrams! It was a chic thing to send to anyone in 1963 as it meant that they paid $$s to deliver a message to intended receivers in record time. The telegram preceded today’s email system.

Bravo! Mama Helen was a cast member and helped to design and create the costumes. As children, we would often encounter various costumes for plays that were prepped in Mama Helen’s basement sewing cave.

Published by Learning family histories

Our genealogy traces our family from western and central Africa and western Europe. Our ancestors entered the United States at the Virginia and Georgia Ports. First cousins Mark Owen and Ann Lineve Wead (it is protocol to use the maiden names of females in genealogy searches) are responsible for writing this blog. Although Ann has been involved in genealogy research while searching for certain ancestors since the age of 10, the cousins began deeper research of their families during the COVID-19 Pandemic Year of 2020. Devoting as much as 6 hours some evenings to the methodical training and research of genealogy, the cousins completed the year 2020 by earning genealogy certificates. Join us. @goodgenesgenealogy on wordpress and fb, twitter Sign up for our blog and enjoy the journey.

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