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16 October 2014

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Aunt Reg's Photo Album

By Sarah Goodey
December 2002, Newport
A digital story from Capture Wales


Sarah is surprised by the similarities between her and her ancestors whilst looking through the photo albums that belonged to her Great Aunt Reg.

"I first met my Aunt Reggie when I was too young to remember. She was the oldest sister of my grandmother and lived in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

Visiting her over the years, I loved hearing her memories come to life. Especially about the journey her and her family made from Croatia to St. Louis in the USA and I wondered with awe at what it would have been like to sail across the Atlantic leaving relatives behind to start a new life in a foreign country.

Many years later, my mother showed me an album Aunt Reg had made of her family history. In it were stories of her family who had lived near Prague and Pilsen, Saag, Hatayan and Zeneta - places sounding so exotic and different to where I grew up.

What grips me most about the album is the collection of photographs held within. When I look through the pages, I see people at once familiar and alien - faces that I recognise through the eyes of my mother, the mouth of my Great Aunt, the cheek-bones of my grandmother. I see my frown on the brow of a distant uncle and my far away gaze in the face of my great, great, great grandmother.

Of all the stories my Great Aunt told, this one is most valuable to me - a slice of history and heritage I can read again and again and continue through my own journeys as she suggested at the end of her tale."

End slide - Regina Carolina Biza, 1907 - 2001.

Sarah Goodey

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I moved to South Wales 12 years ago for my Interactive Arts degree, and have stayed here ever since. I worked in arts and new media and have just started a MA in documentary photography.

What's your story about?
My story is about the journey my Great Aunt Reggie's family made in the early 20th century from Europe to America, to start a new life.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
My Great Aunt had made a story book about her family, with photos and family trees, and stories about how her family came to emigrate. I wanted to bring the story to life for my family.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
I really enjoyed sharing and developing my story with the group and hearing their tales.

Your comments

"Dear Sarah,I saw your website online, and wanted to tell you that I once knew your aunt, Regina Biza. She was the first person of whom I "took under my wing", when I started my nursing career. Hopefully, we will be able to visit someday." Anna from Minnesota, Apr 2008.

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