Amazing Women in World War II: A Censored Journalist Turns Spy

Last week was the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Among the amazing women in World War II was a reporter whose story of the bombing of Honolulu was so vivid the editor wouldn’t publish it. She went on to become a spy.

women in World War II

Reporter Betty McIntosh was working for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on December 7, 1941, when the bombs started falling. Pearl Harbor was the main target–and the one everyone remembers–but the city felt the attack, too. Civilians, including children, were among the casualties.

A week later, Betty wrote an article recounting the recent horrors. Her goal was to warn women what might be coming in other places, now that the U.S. was at war. But her editor killed the article, saying it was too graphic. That’s according to the Washington Post, which finally ran the article, in full, 71 years later.

“For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.”

That’s just the beginning. She goes on to recount that as soon as she heard the news on the radio that Sunday morning, she reported to work. (Click here to hear a radio broadcast announcement from Honolulu to the mainland, announcing the attack.)

Wikimedia Commons image. Click to view.

Wikimedia Commons image. Click to view.

She saw the planes diving into the harbor and plumes of black smoke. Then, a nearby rooftop shot into the air.

“For the first time, I felt that numb terror that all of London has known for months. It is the terror of not being able to do anything but fall on your stomach and hope the bomb won’t land on you. It’s the helplessness and terror of sudden visions of a ripping sensation in your back, shrapnel coursing through your chest, total blackness, maybe death.”

(Click here to see images of the London Blitz, and here to see intense images from Pearl Harbor at the Huffington Post website.)

In the article, Betty goes on to describe the destruction to her neighborhood business district, and the chaos at the emergency room which she was assigned to cover. The aftermath wasn’t a calm after the storm, either:

“Sunday after dusk there was the all-night horror of attack in the dark. Sirens shrieking, sharp, crackling police reports and the tension of a city wrapped in fear….Then, in the nightmare of Monday and Tuesday, buy pinworm medication there was the struggle to keep normal when planes zoomed overhead and guns cracked out at an unseen enemy.”

Video Interview: Betty looks back at Pearl Harbor

The Response of Women in WWII

At the end of the article, Betty describes the frantic calls that began pouring in to the newsroom where she worked. They were from women, “wanting to know what they could do during the day, when husbands and brothers were away and there was nothing left but to listen to the radio and imagine that all hell had broken out on another part of the island. It was then that I realized how important women can be in a war-torn world.”

Betty McIntosh, reporter, spy, CIA employee

Betty McIntosh, reporter, spy, CIA employee

She ends by saying, “There is a job for every woman in Hawaii to do,” and names the Red Cross, canteens, and evacuation areas as places that needed women’s help. What Betty didn’t name was what she decided to do next: become a spy.

Witnessing the bombing of Honolulu and Pearl Harbor changed Betty, says the Washington Post. She became “restless,” wanting to do something different. So she joined the Office of Strategic Services and used her literary talents and knowledge of Japanese to spread misinformation to the enemy, including to enemy soldiers, to make them want to surrender more easily.

After the war, Betty went on to work for the CIA until she retired. You can read her biography, here. She died at age 100 in 2015.

What a story. What a woman!

“There is a job for every woman in Hawaii to do.” – Betty McIntosh

5 Posts to Help You Put Together Your Own Gripping Family Stories

Did you notice the many different sources threaded through this story? Images, news articles, oral histories, a YouTube interview, a radio broadcast clip? Your own family stories can often be fleshed out with all these different types of media. Click below for inspiring tips and how-tos.

1. A Shocking Family Secret–and 3 Powerful Newspaper Search Tips from Lisa Louise Cooke, author of How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers

2. Create Your Own Family History Videos

3. How One Genealogist Used YouTube with Astonishing Results

4. Use Internet Archive for Genealogy (that’s where I found the radio broadcast clip)

5. Using Google Images to Find Photos: tips from Lisa Louise Cooke, author of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (which has a chapter on YouTube, too!)

(Click here to read a local history or here to learn from oral histories about life in Honolulu after the war began.)

Wedding Bells are Ringing Across the U.S. with New and Updated Marriage Records

It’s not really wedding season, but we are hearing wedding bells across the United States! New and updated marriage records are dotting the country. Among other record finds this week, we share new sources from Latin America and Nicaragua.

dig these new record collections

United States – New York – Marriage Records

The not-for-profit organization called “Reclaim the Records” has just added the New York City Marriage Index to the public domain. We welcome this first searchable database of the 3,124,595 marriage licenses filed in New York City between 1950-1995. It’s free and searchable online at this time.

These records were finally won after a settlement was reached between the city of New York and Reclaim the Records. The organization won 110 reels of microfilm made from the masters in the City Clerk’s Office vault. This covers the handwritten marriage license index for 1930-1972. They also won a copy of a text-searchable database covering 1950-1995.

The search engine for these marriage records recognizes soundalike surnames, spelling variants, wildcards, common nicknames, year ranges, borough preferences, and more.

There are some records that are missing for Manhattan for 1967. Those Manhattan records do exist at the City Clerk’s Office on paper, however.

United States – Arkansas – Ohio – Tennessee – Washington – California – Marriage Records

FamilySearch joins the party by updating many of their U.S. marriage collections. Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, and California are among those updated over the past week.

The Arkansas Church Marriages, 1860-1976 collection is still rather small, but the newly updated records include items from Columbia and Woodruff counties.

Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013 collection is quite large and being added to regularly. Though not all have been indexed, you can browse through over 1.5 million marriage records by county. The collection consists of an index and images acquired from local courthouses. You may find:

  • Licenses
  • Certificates
  • Declarations
  • Affidavits
  • Loose documents
  • Abstracts
  • Licenses to perform marriages

The Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950 is an even larger collection of marriages with more than 3.3 million records. I was particularly excited to see the Claiborne County marriage records from as early as 1838 are available online. You can see an example of these handwritten records below.

marriage records example

Early Claiborne County, Tennessee Marriage Record found on FamilySearch

Next on our list of new and updated collections of marriage records are the Washington, County Marriages for 1855-2008. The index includes marriage records for Clallam, Lewis, Pacific, Snohomish, Thurston, and Wahkiakum counties. Images for both indexed and non-indexed counties are available to browse. Additional records from other counties will be added to the collection as they become available, so check back often.

And lastly, the California, County Marriages, 1850-1952 of over 2.4 million records is a must see. This collection includes several different types of documents such as licenses, certificates, registers, applications, affidavits, and stubs. Currently, the collection is 99% complete. It should be noted that not all indexed names will have a view-able record image due to contractual agreements, however most will.

Latin America – Books

Over 50,000 early Latin American books housed at the University of Texas are now available online in the public domain. That means that anyone can search the digitized pages of these wonderful historical books.

You will find these digitized volumes online at Google Books or HathiTrust. If you need to learn about how to effectively utilize Google Books, take a look at this helpful video from Lisa.

 

Nicaragua – Civil Registrations

FamilySearch offers the Nicaragua Civil Registration, 1809-2013 records online. 2.5 million records have been digitized and 1.1 million are indexed. These civil records include birth, marriages, and deaths from Nicaragua. The text of the records is written in Spanish.

Civil registration is mandatory in Nicaragua; therefore most of the population has been registered. The civil registration records are considered a reliable source for doing genealogical research in that locale.

Birth records usually contain the following information:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Child’s name and gender
  • Legitimacy
  • Parents’ names
  • Parents’ age, race, status and residence
  • Occupation of father and mother
  • Names of witnesses

Marriage records may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Groom’s name, origin and occupation
  • Bride’s name, age and residence
  • Bride’s origin and occupation
  • Names of witnesses

Death records contain the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Date, place and time of death
  • Cause of death
  • Legitimacy of deceased
  • Civil status and occupation of deceased
  • Name of spouse, if married
  • Parents’ names
  • Parents’ civil status and residence
  • Names of witnesses
  • Sometimes, burial information

More Gems on Marriage Records

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastTo learn even more about researching marriage records for family history, listen to Lisa’s free podcast episode titled Using Marriage Records in Family History. This episode is part of a series called Family History: Genealogy Made Easy. This specific podcast is all about marriage records and how to find and utilize them for your research.

If you have not yet taken the opportunity to engage with Genealogy Gems through our free podcast, please join us. You can find the free episodes listed here.

For further in-depth tips and techniques, subscribe as a Premium Member and enjoy the Premium Podcasts just for members! There is always something more to learn in the world of genealogy and we want to share it with you.

Lisa in the Press

Lisa Louise Cooke Genealogy Gems PodcastPodcaster Interview
August 2018
Oscar Hamilton

How They Do It: Lisa Louise Cooke 
March 4, 2017
Organize Your Family History blog

Interview with the Queen of Genealogy Podcasts
March 4, 2017
Road to Family History blog

YouTube Offers Genealogy Education in Your Pocket
Sept. 2, 2016
NJ.com True New Jersey

Tips for using Google searches to help with family history
Feb. 14, 2016
The Desert News

Family Stories and Google Cousin Bait with Lisa Louise Cooke
November 18, 2015
Write of Your Life Podcast

Strategies for Using Technology in Family History Research
August 6, 2015
Deseret News/ LDS Church News

The Paperclipping Roundtable
May 26, 2015
Paperclipping Scrapbooking Podcast

(NERGC) Presenter Interview: Lisa Louise Cooke
March 9, 2015
Heritage Zen blog

Podcaster News: Women in Podcasting Interview with Lisa Louise Cooke
November 5, 2014
Podcaster News Podcast

The Genealogy Professional Podcast
June 16, 2014
Interview / Profile

48 in 24: Tips for discovering and sharing family history through video with Lisa Louise Cooke
April 1, 2014
Interview with Techsmith

Utilizing YouTube for family history work
February 8, 2014
Deseret News

Capturing your past with Technology: Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems
February 5, 2014
Techsmith (Blog)

Fast Class: How to reopen a genealogical cold case
January 15, 2014
Santa Rosa – Press Democrat

21st Century Genealogy: Snagit and Camtasia Help Family Historians Bring the Past to Life
May 10, 2013
Techsmith blog

Technology Making Genealogy Easier
February 7, 2013
By The Deseret News

Interview: Lisa Louise Cooke – Genealogy Gems
February 5, 2013
By The Passionate Genealogist

Tuesday’s Tip – Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Website
July 10, 2012
By Genea-Musings

Genealogy and Personal History: Lisa Louise Cooke
March 12, 2012
By Association of Personal Historians

Interview with Lisa Louise Cooke Part II
Le Maison Duchamp blog
By Kim von Aspern-Parker
January 2012

Interview with Lisa Louise Cooke Part I
Le Maison Duchamp blog
By Kim von Aspern-Parker
January 2012

Flip-Pal Interviews Lisa Louise Cooke
September 20, 2011

Rootstech Interview: Lisa Louise Cooke
By Joan Miller, Luxegen Genealogy and Family History Blog
February 2011

Lisa Louise Cooke – Creator and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast – Episode 12
Marion Vermazen Podcast and Blog
August 30, 2010

Voices of the Past Video Netcast: Genealogy Gems’ Lisa Louise Cooke on establishing roots in the social web
By Jeff Guin
Nov. 11, 2009

MNM Interview: Lisa Louise Cooke Hobbyist Turned National Expert through Leveraging New Media
By Jason Van Orden
April 10, 2009

Lisa Louise Cooke on Pursuing Your Dreams
Change Nation with Ariane de Bonvoisin
March 5, 2009

Family Tree Magazine Launches Genealogy Podcast
Desert News
June 8, 2008

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsEvery Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Do any collections below relate to your family history? Please share with genealogy buddies or societies that might be interested!

AUSTRALIAN CONVICTS. A variety of convict records for New South Wales and Queensland, Australia, are now searchable on Findmypast. The NSW records include certificates of freedom and death records beginning in the 1820s. Queensland data includes convict indexes from 1824-1936.

CALIFORNIA DEATHS. Over 2 million deaths in California from 1905-1939 are now searchable for free on FamilySearch. “The index is arranged alphabetically by the name of the deceased, initials of spouse, age, and date of death. Place of death or county of death is coded.”

IRISH COURT RECORDS. Nearly 22 million records appear in the new FamilySearch database, Ireland Petty Sessions Court Registers 1828-1912. According to FamilySearch, “Most records contains name, address, the date in court, and whether the person was a witness, complainant or defendant. It might also contain other information to the specific case. These records were originally filmed at the National Archives of Ireland and the index was created by FindMyPast.com.”

IRISH MILITARY. Ireland’s National Army Census of 1922 is now searchable at Findmypast. Taken in the midst of the Irish Civil War, it “includes details pertaining to where soldiers were stationed, their ages and their next of kin,” according to the collection description.

KENTUCKY VITAL RECORDS. Nearly 10 million names appear in the new FamilySearch index, Kentucky Vital Record Indexes 1911-1999. The database includes “indexes of births, marriages, and deaths from January 1911 to July 1999. These indexes were created by the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives from data files obtained from the Office of Vital Statistics.”

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Here’s a tip: if you live far from your ancestors’ hometown, why not make a virtual visit? Google Earth is a powerful, free, interactive 3D map of the world. Use it to “fly” over a hometown or even drop down into a Street View that lets you see what’s there now. Maybe you’ll find an old home, neighborhood, school, courthouse, church, cemetery or other landmark relating to your family. Learn more in our free Google Earth for Genealogy video. Click here to watch it!

 

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