Sunday, April 15, 2012

May I have your autograph?

Remember autograph books?  I remember my kids taking one throughout Disneyland hoping for that perfect "person" to come around so they could get their autograph.  What a thrill to have Ariel or Mickey sign the book!  And then there were yearbooks where we had all of our friends sign and tell us to be cool, have a nice summer and see you next year.

But I never thought about autograph books in the late 19th century.  Of course that would make sense since people didn't have the communication methods we have today but who knew I would actually run across one?  But there it was, in the boxes of things from my mother's storage unit.

It looked pretty beat up and I almost missed it but when I opened it up, I saw this...

And on the next page.....

Yes, this little gem was the autograph book of Bertha "Birdie" Schwartz, my great grandmother.  I've written about Birdie here and here and have found her to be quite an interesting woman. 

So what else was in Birdie's autograph book? 

Did you know there were dudes in 1888?  I was surprised to see the word here on the first page.

I'm a dandy but I'm no dude.
Yours respectfully, Who?
Santa Cruz, Cal.  Jan 12, 1888

Lillian A. Howard was quite an artist.

I wonder if Birdie was a dancer because L. Folk suggested she keepadancing.

There are lots of different autographs, although none as creative as those above.  But nothing, NOTHING compares to this page which was written by Abe Gunzendorfer, Birdie's future husband.  I wonder if this was when they first met as Birdie was just 17 years old when Abe wrote this.

To Bird:

Always remember the pleasant times spent during my sejourn in Santa Cruz.

Yours Respectfully,
Abe Gunzendorfer

Santa Cruz
Aug. 14 - 89

Is that not the sweetest thing ever?

Stay tuned for more treasures around Birdie and Abe's courtship and wedding.


  1. Oh, Debi, what a fabulous treasure to find! I'm envious. The title page is beautiful and how wonderful to find paintings, drawings, and, best of all, the autographs of both of your great-grandparents. Precious!

  2. These were so popular for a time. We have a couple in our family history collection and you've inspired me to pull them out and write about them. Thanks!

  3. What a neat treasure. Your great-grandmother had some talented friends (and 1 smitten beau). Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love the "dude" reference. The past is prologue!