What They Saved

Distinguished Professor Nancy K. Miller (Comp Lit, English, French) reconstructs her family’s missing past from artifacts passed down to her.  Locks of hair, postcards, receipts, letters written in Yiddish are among the objects which inspire the quest to understand her relatives’ lives:

As I slowly pieced together my family portrait and assembled a genealogical tree, I felt connected in unexpected ways to an immigrant narrative that began in Eastern Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, when my ancestors headed for the Lower East Side of Manhattan. At the end of my decade-long quest, I started to imagine the life I might have had with the missing side of my family. Suspended between what had been lost and what I found, I finally began to come to terms with the bittersweet legacy of the third generation — faced with tantalizing fragments of disappeared worlds.

Miller’s search is documented in her digital collection, What They Saved