My Genealogy-Related Fall Reading List

Fall has officially begun and I have gathered a few books for my reading enjoyment. I’ve never been much of a fiction fan, prefering non-fiction and especially biographies.

Have you ever taken the time to search for books either about the area in which you grew up or about towns in which your ancestors lived? I not only was born in Passaic, but this year is the quasquicentennial (I love that word and how often do I get to use it?) or 125th anniversary of the year my great grandfather emigrated to Passaic. I decided to search online to see what books might be out there about Passaic, aside from the usual “history of the area” type books. I was pleasantly surprised.

I found three books, all quite inexpensive, available on line. Two are by Bob Rosenthal, who is from Passaic and one was written by the father of a childhood friend and classmate of mine.

Wonderful Passaic: Memories and Recollections shares memories of all the old neighborhoods, churches, shops, ethnic neighborhoods and city celebrations of a very typical “melting pot” city. Life in Passaic was pretty much a microcosm of the waves of history of the United States.

Bob wrote a second book, which I also now own:

Climbing the Rainbow: 28 Glimpses of Growing Up in Passaic is exactly what the title says. 28 people have shared their memories of growing up in that same melting pot.

The last book shares a much more serious family story.

The third book, The Last Jew of Rotterdam, is a book I have known about for a while, but it has been out of print and not so easy to obtain. Growing up in the 1950’s, I never remember hearing people talk about World War II, probably because it was still too raw a subject. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were many Passaic residents who I think were European refugees who arrived just before, during or after the war. Unbeknownst to me, my friend’s family was also a refugee family and her father authored a book about family loss and survival and his own imprisonment by the Germans during the war.

I am really looking forward to reading all of these books because they are somewhat unusual in that all weave the stories of Passaic during my own lifetime.

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