Do These Hold Significance?

I recently shared that I have come across a pile of items that needed to be scanned. In this pile there was something I was aware I had but hadn't realized the true significance of keeping prior to coming across it again.

The items I am referring to are cancelled checks that my mother had written. The oldest check was written in 1979. The most recent checks were from 1999. This stack of checks I have can't be more than an inch thick. I am not sure why I have them and why just these checks. Are these the only ones she saved during this time? Why? What happened to the other checks? I started to think maybe these were for tax purposes, however after looking through them that couldn't be so. If there were checks to be used toward taxes they should be with tax papers anyway, right? I just don't see a rhyme or reason to this bunch of cancelled checks.

It is interesting looking at each check to see who they were written to and for what purpose. Cancelled checks from my sisters weddings, payment for a cruise, and a brand new car just to name a few. I remember when my mom had the dining room set re-upholstered, the check is in this stack for full payment. There are checks for a few bills here and there and several checks written to each of her children for various issues. There are checks that I don't know yet who they were written to. Well, the name is there but I am unaware of who they are.

I see checks written to my sister for a friend who lost her home and belongings in a fire. My mother didn't know her but wanted to help her. There are checks supporting her grand children's fundraisers, her and my dads personal hobbies and did I say checks to her children? Oh, and son in laws also!

These cancelled checks over the span of 20 years bring back memories. Some good, some bad, and the rest memories of every day life. My mother usually wrote checks for the full payment of whatever it was that was owed, be it a $5 support fee to a full payment of a brand new car. Because of this I can easily see what she paid for these items and the time frame in which it happened. Going back to the oldest written check, we are talking 30 years ago, and being able to see how much she paid for something then is amazing to me. Comparing those prices to today's prices is another story. Wow, there are some interesting finds here.

The cancelled checks that really hit home though are the ones I found written for a Will, Cemetery Plots and items from when my mother became sick not long before she passed. Again, I see what these items cost along with the organization my mother had. She took care of business.

I will be able to add all of these things to the family stories I prepare. An added element not everyone has advantage of. I feel so fortunate. I am not sure my father is aware I have these checks, but then again I am not sure why he would want them. I may not understand the rhyme or reason to this small stack, but I am very grateful to have them, and feel they were meant to be in my hands.

I am not so sure I would have ever thought to "want" an individuals cancelled checks until now.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Copyright © 2010 By Cheryl Palmer


  1. I think I would certainly want to keep some of those checks. They are a window into the day to day life of your mother.
    It's interesting to think that since everyone is starting to move away from writing checks and moving toward paying all their bills electronically, someday our great grandchildren may find some of our checks wonder what they are!

  2. What an interesting concept. I use to keep canceled checks for 10 years with my tax husband thought I was nuts. Over the last several years I've gone to paying electronically and very seldom write a check.

  3. I too have cancelled checks written by my grandfather. Sometimes I think it's crazy to keep all these things - but I can't seem to let them go. One check of particular interest to me was from August 17, 1942 written to my parents and marked "wedding gift".

  4. We now have a whole storage locker full of old financial records of my mothers. A while back I went thru the box of earliest records. I scanned many of the cancelled checks -- not all, but enough to give me an idea of what she spent money for and why. These checks went back to 1950. It was in interesting evening I spent with those old checks --- now I just have another 60 years to go.

  5. Even if you do still write checks, most banks only provide a scanned image of the check with the bank statement. Getting an original cancelled check anymore is pretty hard to come by. What you have are truly becoming "historical" documents.

  6. I have actually now found a few checks from another line also that I had forgotten I had. I hardly write any checks anymore, although my husband does. With all of the electronics these days it won't be long before checks are no more. When I deposit a check I have the printed receipt of the check which is nice also, but who is going to save those forever? I am happy to have what I do! Thank you for your comments!


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