On Trains & Tolstoy

This past week, I’ve been re-reading Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina–one of my favorite novels. Anna’s and Vronsky’s ill-fated affair is framed by the coming-and-going of trains: they’re a symbol of their love, of ties to the “West” and, ultimately, of the tragedy at the novel’s conclusion. Trains were, in many ways, at the center of … More On Trains & Tolstoy

From Poland to New York

On July 20, 1907, Maryanna Witkowska departed from Hamburg, Germany on the SS Lutterworth, listing her destination as “Dunkirk, NY.” She was making the journey from Czarnowo, Poland to marry a man she had never met and to become a stepmother to his seven children. Casimir Marczynski’s wife, Mary, had contracted typhoid fever and died at … More From Poland to New York

A Photograph in Sepia

When I started researching my genealogy in the Spring of 2011, I only had a few family stories and names to guide me. I knew my grandmother’s maiden name–Zielinski–and that her mother went by “Hattie.” I found an old wedding photograph of Hattie’s parents at the bottom of a drawer, but the back of the … More A Photograph in Sepia