World War I Free Records this Week in New and Updated Records

With the 100th anniversary of America entering World War I, this week we’re shining the spotlight on an immense collection of important WWI records that are available for free at FamilySearch. Here are all the details from their recent press release:

FamilySearch Marks World War I Centennial with Free Historic Record Collections

Salt Lake City, Utah (4 April 2017), Did your ancestor serve in World War I? As the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I approaches, FamilySearch International is highlighting its free online collections of World War I records. Millions of free draft registration, service, and naturalization records online help fill in details about ancestors who served in the military during the conflict. April 6, 2017, will mark the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I.  Search the free collections at FamilySearch.org.

A century ago, the United States joined its allies to fight in World War I—the “Great War” or the “War to End All Wars.” When the U.S. joined the war effort, battles had already raged in Europe for nearly three years between the Allies and the Central Powers.

World War I anniversary free records

Almost five million American military personnel marched to war under the command of General John Pershing, commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Force. More than 116,000 Americans died in the war—about half from the Spanish Flu pandemic that swept the globe in 1918, killing millions around the world. Nearly 30,000 American military died of the flu before they even got to France.

The country followed the news of the war, with many people supporting the war effort in industry, farming, and other ways as they waited anxiously for the return of their loved ones. On November 11, 1918, about a year and a half after the United States entered the war, Germany formally surrendered, and terms of peace were negotiated. The nation rejoiced as soldiers returned home to rejoin their families and normal lives. But their experiences helped shape their lives, their posterity, and the country.

As the country remembers that war, many families seek to document the stories of their ancestors and friends who participated in the conflict. The veterans of that conflict are gone now, but many Americans are still alive who listened to the stories told by their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of their families’ experience during World War I. Some have documents and old letters, but not everyone has such personalized memorabilia. They may find documents in FamilySearch’s searchable online collections to provide insights.

FamilySearch World War I Records Collections:

To find details about an ancestor’s military service, start with the Family History Research Wiki, which directs readers to related documents. Type World War I into the search box in the wiki. The results provide historical context to events during the war, suggestions of records that may provide World War I information, and links to records on other websites.

The most extensive collection on FamilySearch.org is the United States World War I Draft Registration Card collection, with nearly 25 million records. During the course of the war, the amount and kind of information required on draft cards changed, but draft registration cards typically included at least the registrant’s full name, home address, birth date, birthplace, marital status, occupation, physical description, and more.

In addition, many states have registration indexes and card collections that may include other information. For example, searchable state service-card collections on FamilySearch.org for:

provide information about service records, injuries, periods of service, place of birth, age at service or date of birth, units served with, and more for hundreds of thousands of military personnel.

FamilySearch.org has also published searchable images of World War I Enemy Alien Registration Affidavits from San Francisco, California. This collection of records has nearly 34,000 records that offer invaluable genealogical information about noncitizen families during the war, including birth location, countries of citizenship, children, siblings, extended family, educational level, date of arrival in the United States, occupation, languages spoken, a description and a photo of the registrant, and more.

The United States Index to Naturalizations in World War I Soldiers, 1918 offers both indexed information about citizens naturalized during the war and links to images of the actual records.

Census records provide further clues about military service. The 1920 census did not ask questions specific to military service, but the 1930 and 1940 censuses did. Searchable images of the census sheets are online at FamilySearch.org.

One less-known collection containing information about the World War I military comes in records from the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). This volunteer organization provided programs and supplies to support the troops, the sick and wounded, and prisoners of war. Family Search.org has 27,000 images from the YMCA World War I Service Cards, 1917–1919 collection that provide names, addresses, work, religious affiliation, and army service information.

The following World War I books can be found in FamilySearch’s digital book collection online:

Learn More About World War I for Genealogical Research

Here are three more Genealogy Gems articles to help you discover more about the impact of the Great War on your ancestors:

WWI History App in New and Updated Genealogical Collections
A WWI history app for genealogy leads our top picks for this week! History buffs are going to love Remembering WWI, an app that makes your WWI family history come alive. Also in this week’s new and updated genealogical collections, Swedish church records, Canadian marriage records, Pennsylvania naturalizations, and more.

3 Tips for Finding WWI Ancestors and Their Stories
How did World War I affect your family’s lives? Start your search with these 3 tips for finding WWI ancestors.

Europeana for Genealogy: WWI Digital Archive and More
A major part of Europeana is its World War I digital archive. As the site describes, Europeana “has been running World War I family history roadshows around Europe, helping to digitize people’s stories, documents and memorabilia from 1914-1918.

Resolving Three Common Conflicting Evidence Problems in Genealogy

Resolving conflicting evidence in genealogy research is sometimes difficult. Some types of conflicting evidence we come across are common. Here are some tips to resolving three of the most common conflicting records and why they exist.

weigh conflicting evidence

I joke about our recent “cookie incident” here at home. No one wanted to fess up to who ate all the cookies, but it didn’t take long to evaluate the evidence and come up with the culprit. The trail of crumbs, the height at which the cookies were stored, and who was home at the time, were just a few of the ways in which I came to a sound conclusion.

As genealogists, we have to weigh disagreeing or conflicting evidence all the time. Maybe you have two records giving two different birth dates for a great great grandmother. Whatever the conflict, here are some tips to resolving three of the most common conflicts and why they exist.

Item 1: Resolving a Birth Date Conflict

I have found numerous birth date conflicts in my personal family history. Some reasons may include:

  • Transcription errors
  • Delayed recording
  • Lying to protect the couple from embarrassment of a pre-marriage pregnancy
  • Engraving mistake on the tombstone
  • To avoid a military draft

These are just a few of the many reasons why you may find a conflicting birth date. Resolving a birth date conflict, or any genealogical data conflict, may be possible by remembering the following:

The record recorded nearest the time of the event, by those who have first-hand knowledge, is typically considered the most reliable source.

Here’s an example. Nancy Blevins Witt has two possible birth dates. Using her death record, we can only calculate a birth date based on her age-at-death given in years, months, and days. That calculated birth date would be 19 Nov 1890. However, the date of birth recorded on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census is October 1890, and we were never able to find a birth record. Which birth month is likely correct, October or November?

To make this determination, we will need to consider the following:

1. A death record has an informant. Who was the informant of Nancy’s death record? Did this person have first-hand knowledge of her birth, such as a parent? In this case, the informant was her uncle. There is no way to know if the uncle was present at the time of her birth, but he was alive at the time.

2. Who was the likely informant of the 1900 census? Was that a person with first-hand knowledge of Nancy’s date of birth? We can’t be absolutely sure, but we could suppose that Nancy’s mother was the one who gave the census taker that information. Since the mother was obviously present at the time of Nancy’s birth, we would consider her a reliable witness to the event of Nancy’s birth.

3. Do any of these informants have a reason to lie? Is there something, like money, to be gained by providing a certain birth date? The answer is no.

We can say that the likely accurate date of birth for Nancy is October 1890. Of course, we want to make note of both the records and the discrepancies in our personal database and remember that it is always possible a new piece of evidence will pop up that makes us re-evaluate this assumption.

Item 2: Resolving a Marriage Date Conflict

Marriage date conflicts can be found for a variety of reasons as well. Some of these reasons may include:

  • Transcription error
  • Delayed recording
  • Lying to avoid an embarrassing situation
  • Altering the date for the benefit of widows pension

conflicting evidence alternatives

Again, these are just a few of the reasons for a marriage date conflict.

In this next example, John and Eliza are said to have married about 1857. Unfortunately, no actual marriage record was ever found.

There are however, two sources for a marriage date. Both of these sources are found in the War of 1812 Pension Application Files which was viewed online at Fold3.com. A War of 1812 Pension Application is a great place to find marriage information. The widow would have needed to prove that she was indeed the widow of the veteran before being able to receive her pension. Widows sometimes supplied actual marriage certificates, or like Eliza, they may have included affidavits instead.

This pension file for Eliza contained two documents, the first of which was an affidavit given by Eliza herself stating that she and “Jackson Cole” were married in March 1857 in Harlan, Kentucky by Stephen Daniel. Sadly, throughout the application, Eliza changes dates, ages, and names making us wary of whether her information is accurate. She had also been denied pension once before, and this was her second attempt. Because this is a pension and dealt with money allocation, and because she had been denied before, there is a reason for her to lie or fudge dates and details of the facts to meet certain criteria. We will want to take this into consideration. The second document is an affidavit from Stephen Daniel who states he married the couple in 1854.

Now, we want to further evaluate the two sources.

  • Stephen has nothing to gain (i.e. money, land, etc.)
  • Both Eliza and Stephen had first-hand knowledge of the event.
  • They were both remembering this marriage event and testifying to it almost 45 years later.
  • Stephen was a minister who married perhaps hundreds of couples.
  • Eliza only ever married once.

Who do you think would most likely remember the date of marriage? If you said Eliza, I think you are right. Further, the fact that Eliza had her first child about 1857 is also a strong indication that a marriage had taken place fairly recently. Based on all these reasons, we could assume the most likely date of marriage was March 1857.

Item 3: Resolving a Death Date Conflict

Reasons for conflicting death dates may include:

  • Transcription error
  • Engraving mistake on the tombstone
  • Delayed recording
  • Misprint in a newspaper obituary or biographical sketch

An example of a conflicting death date might be that an obituary says the person died on 20 February 1899, but the death record and tombstone give the date as 19 Feb 1899. We all know that newspapers are notorious for misprints. Further, a death record indicating the death date of 20 February 1899 is a record typically made on or near the date of death. This is typically when information is most fresh in the minds of the informants. A newspaper article, however, could have been printed days or even weeks later.

More Gems on Conflicting Evidence in Genealogy and Using the Genealogical Proof Standard

Whatever the conflict, you can typically use these practices to come to a sound conclusion. Oh! And by the way, have you ever heard of using the “GPS?” We aren’t talking about the little device that tells you how to get to that really cool new restaurant. We are talking about the Genealogical Proof Standard. Resolving conflicting evidence is just one of the components of the GPS. To learn more about this high standard, listen to podcast episode #23: Using the Genealogical Proof Standard.

ARTICLE REFERENCES

[1] “1913: Statewide Flood,” article online, Ohio History Connection, accessed 27 Dec 2016.

 

How to Use Google Image Search to Identify Old Photos on Smartphones and Tablets – Free Video

How to use Google image search to identify old photos, that’s what we are covering today! These tech-tip videos are my way of sharing tips and tricks that will save you time and add to your genealogy and family history research success. You don’t have to love genealogy to put these tips into action! So join me as I share a little tech-tip on how to use Google image search to identify old photos on smartphone and tablets.

how to use Google image search to identify old photos

My new tech-tip video posted to the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel is all about how to use Google image search to identify old photos. You may remember, I posted a similar video on how to upload an image to Google on your laptop or home computer, run a search to find other images that match, and most importantly, identify that image. After watching that video, Doris wrote me the following email:

“I just enjoyed your video about Google Images. It seems that it won’t work on my iPhone 6S +. I have to wait until I am on my laptop, later. What a great tip! Thanks for all you do to help us make our computer life easier and more fun.”

Well Doris, you don’t have to wait to get back home to do a Google image search! This video will show you, step-by-step, how to search for images right from your mobile device.

After watching this helpful video, Amie, our Content Creator here at Genealogy Gems, shared with me this tidbit:

“Lisa, I just wanted to share what I did after watching your video, “How to Google Search Images – Smartphone and Tablets.” When I had a little wait time, I went into my FamilySearch app on my phone and found the pictures I had saved to my FamilySearch Tree. Then, using your instructions, I looked to see if any of those ancestor photos were found anywhere else on the web. Guess what? I made a cousin connection with one of the photos. I found a cousin had put Great-Grandpa’s picture on her Pinterest page! Just another genealogy success story!”

And there you have it! By learning a few tips, you can use your smartphone or tablet for searching Google images just like Doris and Amie. A follow-up email from Doris after watching this video just made my day:

“I watched this video yesterday while I was riding in the car. What a fun surprise! I tried it and it worked! Thanks for doing this for me. I am grinning right now just thinking about it.”

You are so welcome, Doris. I hope that others will give it a try, too.

Thanks for watching and reading, friends…and keep the comments and emails coming. I love to hear from you!

Learn More About Google Image Search and Everything Google for Genealogy

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition cover

Ready to learn more about how to use Google for genealogy and mining it for your own genealogical treasures? The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, is your go-to resource! It’s available now both in print and e-book formatIn its chapters–fully revised and updated –you’ll learn more about all these Google tools and more. Better yet, after you learn how to use these tools for family history research, you’ll find yourself using them to find all kinds of things, from recipes to trivia, to a manual for your old car.

 

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