25 September 2014

The Importance of a Wedding Veil to Family Historians

My sister-in-law is helping her mother with a very special project. They are creating a scrapbook of 48 women in their family who have worn the same wedding veil in each of their weddings.  The scrapbook will accompany the veil as it continues to be passed down through generations.  They have photos of all the women in the family wearing the veil - except for one.

Her name is Jeanette Augusta Meier, the daughter of Abraham Meier and Minnie Eising.  She was born in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon on 26 November 1902.  Jeanette is the granddaughter of Aaron Meier and Janette Hirsch.  Aaron Meier came to Portland in 1857 and later with  Sigmond Frank founded the Meier & Frank department stores in 1873.  

The Meier family were Jewish pioneers from Bavaria and very  prominent socially.  Aaron and Janette's son Julius Meier became the 20th governor of Oregon in 1931.

Jeanette Augusta Meier

Jeanette Meier was married to Walter David Heller on 14 November 1922 in Portland, Oregon.

Walter Heller, born 18 September 1894 in San Francisco, California to Moses Heller and Adele Walter.  Walter is the grandson of Martin Heller and Babette Kuper.  Martin Heller was a Bavarian Jew who came to San Francisco in the 1850's.  He was president of Congregation Emanuel in San Francisco from 1876 until his death in 1894.  The Heller family was also very socially prominent in San Francisco.

Since the bride was from Oregon and the groom from California, I have been trying to cover both areas.  I have searched these newspaper collections online:

• Chronicling America   http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
• Historic Oregon Newspapers   http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/
• Californai Digital Newspaper Collection
• ProQuest Historic San Francisco Chronicle online

I found several articles about the wedding, but no photos.  I have also contacted the Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon, the Oregon Jewish Museum, and the Oregon Historical Society, and no luck there either.  I tried the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the Bancroft Library on the University of California at Berkeley campus.   The collection had previously been housed in the old Magnes Museum in Berkeley.  I was told that the materials are as yet unprocessed and there's no way of telling whether this collection contains the photo I am looking for.

So I have reached out to people who might be able to help.  Like Janice Sellers who is the author of Ancestral Discoveries.  Janice is currently the vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogy Society and has promised to spread the word.

If you know of any resource that I might try, please let me know.  There has to be a photo of Jeanette Augusta Meier Heller on her wedding day wearing that veil out there somewhere!


  1. I have tremendous faith in the power of crowdsourcing. There has got to be a resource out there somewhere!

  2. tweeting 2 all followers of genealogical society queensland (australia). waning nothing but success 4 u!

  3. There's a new iPhone/ipad app that might help you gather stories and comments about the veil -- Thingealogy® -- it was created to help people preserve the story of their belongings!

  4. where did the photo in your blog come from? you can always photoshop it! lol

  5. Moses Heller is my great great grandfather