Many of us may have a relative or ancestor who served in the military. We invite you to pay tribute to these heroes and honor their legacy by learning more about them through military records.
The MyHeritage collection consists of 57 million records and includes draft, enlistment, and service records, pension records, and other military documents from North America and around the world, dating back to the American Revolutionary War in the late 18th century.
MyHeritage Facebook Live Events
MyHeritage is also hosting 2 Facebook Live events about military records in the coming days:
Searching Military Records on MyHeritage
Tune in TODAY, May 20 at 1 P.M. EDT to learn how to leverage MyHeritage’s vast collection of military records to learn more about your family history.
Breaking Through Brick Walls with Military Records
On May 24 at 1 P.M EDT, you’ll learn how to use military records to break through brick walls in your genealogy research.
Lisa Louise Cooke, MyHeritage Facebook Live, June 3, 2 P.M. EDT
Topic: Fabulous Photo Discoveries at MyHeritage
Speaker: Lisa Louise Cooke
Description: Lisa Louise Cooke, founder of the genealogy research website Genealogy Gems, will illustrate the incredible potential of MyHeritage’s Photo Discoveries™ feature.
U.S. Yearbook Records Now Free and in Color
Following the release of the highly popular MyHeritage In Color™, we’ve colorized the entire MyHeritage U.S. Yearbook collection on MyHeritage. This collection includes 290 million names in 36 million yearbook pages, spanning from 1890 through 1979. You can now see colorized versions of your ancestors’ black and white yearbook photos next to the originals. To celebrate this moment, we’re offering FREE access to our U.S. Yearbooks through May 23, 2020.
There are so many things I want to cover every month, but I try really hard to sift through it all and bring you the best of the best, the genealogy gems. And I LOVE when you bring me Gems! Just like Betty did recently.
Betty is taking my online course at Family Tree University this month called Google Earth for Genealogy which I told you about in our weekly newsletter. You’re all signed up for that right?
Well Betty was so excited about something she found that she wrote the following on our course discussion board.
She says: “My husband and I just saw the movie “They Shall Not Grow Old” about the soldiers in WWI. We saw it in 3-D, which was amazing! The whole movie is remastered, colorized video and audio from the newsreels and also the soldiers’ interviews in the 1960’s and 70’s. The director, Peter Jackson, introduces the movie and then, the best part is after the show.”
Watch the trailer:
I saw her message at about 8:00 that night, and I immediately grabbed Bill and jumped in the car and for the 9:30pm showing. I couldn’t agree more that it was spectacular.
From Betty: “When I read that you went straight to the movie, I almost cried I was so happy! I knew you would like the last 1/2 hour the best. When Peter Jackson talked about everyone finding out about the history of their family, I was so excited! Wasn’t it amazing what they could do with old video, still shots, cartoons, and audio interviews? It has so much potential for genealogists. The most important thing is to gather the information and digitize the videos we already have. In the future, maybe the technology will be more accessible to us, non-professional family historians. What a treasure that movie was! I hope it inspires more people to do the same with other aspects of WWI or other historical subjects.”
GEM: Baby Clothes
Valentine’s Day brings to mind visions of cupid, a baby dressed only in a nappy shooting arrows of love at unsuspecting couples. While this little cherub celebrates the holiday au natural, let’s take some time to talk about the fashion statements the babies in our family tree have made through the centuries. To help us visualize the togs those tots wore we could turn to our grandmother’s photo albums, but there we may find a surprise: lots of photos of female ancestors and surprisingly fewer of the males. Why is that? Allison DePrey Singleton, Librarian at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center unravels the mystery and stitches together a delightful history of baby clothing.
Sources: Baumgarten, Linda. What clothes reveal: the language of clothing in colonial and federal America: the Colonial Williamsburg Collection. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg. Calvert, Karin Lee Fishbeck. Children in the house: the material culture of early childhood, 1600-1900. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992. F., José Blanco, Mary D. Doering, Patricia Hunt-Hurst, and Heather Vaughan Lee. Clothing and fashion: American fashion from head to toe. Vol. 1-3. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2016. Hiner, N. Ray., and Joseph M. Hawes. Growing up in America: children in historical perspective. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985. Paoletti, Jo B. “Clothing and Gender in America: Children’s Fashions, 1890-1920.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 13, no. 1 (1987): 136-43. doi:10.1086/494390. Paoletti, Jo Barraclough. Pink and blue: telling the boys from the girls in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012. “When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?” Smithsonian.com. Accessed January 10, 2017. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/when-did-girls-start-wearing-pink-1370097/.
Mary Lovell Swetnam, Special Collections Librarian Virginia Beach Public wrote me to tell us all about a new online resource. “I was able to determine that hundreds of records of enslaved persons were not included in either of the two previous abstracts of the Overwharton Parish Register. They have now been abstracted and are available free on our site.
Dana wrote in with one purpose in mind: to share her genealogy happy dance with us. And I think that’s an awesome reason to write! Email or leave a voice mail at (925) 272-4021 and share your genealogy happy dance with me!
GEM: Scottish Genealogy
Amanda Epperson Ph.D. shares 3 strategies for finding an ancestor in Scottish records. Read the full article here.
Amanda Epperson is the author of the book The Family Tree Scottish Genealogy Guide. Since completing her Ph.D. in history from the University of Glasgow in 2003, Amanda has taught history at the college level, researched and edited family histories, most recently for Genealogists.com, and written articles for a variety of publications including Family Tree Magazine and Your Genealogy Today.
Backblaze executive Yev Pusin explains a little-known feature that just might get you out of a jam! Learn more about Backblaze computer cloud backup and get your computer backed up today at www.backblaze.com/Lisa
GEM: Military Minutes – Draft Registration Cards Deciphered
We are revisiting Draft Registrations for both World War I and World War II. You will recall that this was the subject of our first “Military Minutes” together; since this aired several listeners have had questions and comments regarding the numbering on the cards, draft classifications, and how to dig deeper into other records of the Selective Service System whose office was responsible for the registering of all the men during both wars.
Click the images below to see all of the documents Michael discusses in this episode:
GEM: Profile America – America’s First Hospital
Monday, February 11th.Among his very many achievements, Benjamin Franklin played a leading role in the founding of America’s first hospital. Together with Dr. Thomas Bond, he obtained a charter for a hospital to serve the poor, sick and insane in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Hospital opened on this date in 1752 in a converted house.
PRODUCTION CREDITS Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer Bill Cooke, Audio Editor Lacey Cooke, Your Happiness Manager
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, Genealogy Gems earns from qualifying purchases you make when clicking from the links we provide. It doesn’t cost you anything extra but it helps support our free blog and podcast. Thank you!
Military ephemera outside of photographs are abundant and located at many research libraries and other facilities across the United States. Familiarizing yourself with historical collections and the finding aids online at many places can make all the difference in conducting a successful search for a military ancestor.
Military Minutes contributor Michael Strauss shares his recommendations for military ephemera sources to find genealogy treasures.
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress was created to serve the Congress of the United States. As explained last month in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode #161, it serves as the national library of the United States. The library has millions of individual entries of photographs, film, letters, journals, diaries, and other primary material of interest to genealogists.
One research room also located in the James Madison building and open weekdays has more than 17 million books, maps, films, manuscripts, and photographs. The Prints and Photograph Division is located in the James Madison building and open weekdays and Saturdays from 8:30 AM to 5 PM. This room has in their custody more than 50,000 manuscripts available to the public. Searches in the online collection and finding aids can be found online at https://www.loc.gov/rr/mss/.
United States Army Heritage & Education Center
Another excellent source of other military ephemera located outside of Washington, DC can be found as part of the United States Army Heritage and Education Center. It is located in Carlisle, PA and has an online search catalog for manuscripts, journals, diaries, and letters covering multiple war periods. The center has an online finding aid catalog to aid researchers to find materials in their collections available at http://usawc.libguides.com/graduates_others.
Many historical societies and genealogical societies offer material that isn’t available anywhere else. Additionally, local State Archives and Libraries should be searched for ephemera in their own collections. Here are a few great resources for finding outside materials online:
Archive Grid This database of entries include more than 5 million records of archival materials, not only supplying the name of the repository, but the scope of the collections searched. Their material online can be searched at https://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid.
FamilySearch This is the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and formally part of the Genealogy Society of Utah. It is home to millions of genealogy records that are all available for free. Searches can be done online at http://www.familysearch.org.
Hathi Trust This is a collaborative effort of repositories and libraries that have digitized their books and manuscripts online. Begin searching at http://www.hathitrust.org.
World Cat The world’s largest library catalog of listings from tens of thousands of libraries located in multiple counties around the world. Visit http://www.worldcat.org.
NUCMC Also listed as the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. It is affiliated with the Library of Congress and promotes the access to the heritage of the United States. Searches can be done online: http://www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc.
Here are some examples of military ephemera treasures I’ve found:
Above left: Lt. Washington Brua- Courtesy of the Lebanon County Historical Society in Lebanon, PA. Above right: Pvt. John H. Waltz- Courtesy of the United States Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA. Images supplied by Michael Strauss.
Pennsylvania Civil War Muster Rolls, 1860-1869 (Ancestry.com). Entry includes 2 pages; just the left side is shown here.
Any family historian knows that a little genealogical kindness goes a long way! We as researchers wouldn’t be able to discover these treasures if it weren’t for others sharing their finds and resources. Take a moment to share this article with anyone who may be searching for military ancestors and you just might make someone’s day!
Author: Michael Strauss, AG
Michael Strauss, AG is the principal owner ofGenealogy Research Networkand an Accredited Genealogist since 1995. He is a native of Pennsylvania and a resident of Utah and has been an avid genealogist for more than 30 years. Strauss holds a BA in History and is a United States Coast Guard veteran.
U.S. military records and more are making headlines this week for new genealogy records online. Explore WWI and military records for free at FamilySearch.org. Then head over to Fold3 to check out their updated WWII records. Various other U.S. collections are included, so take a look and discover your ancestors all across the U.S.
Featured: WWI & Military Records for U.S.
We are delighted by these new WWI and military records now available at FamilySearch.org. This genealogy giant records website is one of our favorites, and accessing their records is always free! In order to access the records, you’ll need to create a free FamilySearch account. Click here to read about why you should go ahead and create that free account – and use it!
Alabama, World War I Service Cards, 1917-1919: “Index to a card roster of Alabamians who served in the United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard, or Marines during World War I from 1917 to 1919. Each soldier has one or two cards giving information on his/her military service, such as name, serial number, residence, place and date of birth, and more.”
Georgia, Reconstruction Registration Oath Books, 1867-1868: “Registers typically contain each voters name, county of residence, date of registration, race, and an oath of allegiance to the United States. The oath of allegiance was required in order to register. Registered voters would then elect delegates to the state’s constitutional convention.”
Indiana, World War I, Enrollment Cards, 1919: “Index to a card roster of Indianans who served in the United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard, or Marines during World War I. Each soldier has one or two cards giving information on his/her military service, such as name, serial number, residence, place, and date of birth, and more.”
Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940: This updated collection contains “an index to veterans who served at any time during World War I and who made (or whose heirs made) pension or benefits claims of the Veterans Administration between 1917 and 1940. Each card contains the name of the veteran as well as other personal identifying information such as home address at the time of enlistment, date of birth, and date of death.”
More U.S. military records are available in Fold3’s newly updated WWII Draft Registration Cards collection. The collection now contains cards from Montana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. The cards in this collection are registration cards for the draft and do not necessarily indicate that the individual served in the military.
From the update description: “Information on the WWII Draft Registration Cards may include the man’s name, address, telephone number, age, place of birth, country of citizenship, name and address of the person who will always know the registrant’s address, employer’s name, place of employment, and a physical description of the registrant.”
Additional new collections for U.S. records are now online at MyHeritage.com. First is the U.S. Naturalization Records, Northern California, 1852-1989. This collection of over half a million records features an index of naturalization records in Northern California district and circuit courts for the years 1852 to 1989. In records prior to 1906, a limited amount of information is available, often only the name of the petitioner, the name of the court, record number, the petitioner’s country of origin, and the date of naturalization. After 1906, you may see additional information such as the petitioner’s address, names and addresses of any witnesses, birth date, as well as date and place of arrival in the United States.
MyHeritage’s new collection of Massachusetts Newspapers, 1704-1974 contains a whopping 6 million pages in 239 titles from various cities and towns in throughout the state. You’ll see a particular emphasis on papers from Boston and surrounding locales. Produced by MyHeritage in partnership with the Boston Public Library, this extensive collection includes papers from the colonial era through the late 20th century.
More to learn military records
If you’ve got military ancestors, you’ll want a copy of The Genealogist’s Military Records Field Manualfrom the editors of Family Tree Magazine. This book guide will show you how to research military ancestors using records from the Civil War, World War I, the Vietnam War and other significant conflicts throughout US history. Inside, you’ll find tips for using genealogy websites to find and use draft registration records, service records and more. Click here to order yours today.
Lacey has been working with Genealogy Gems since the company’s inception in 2007. Now, as the full-time manager of Genealogy Gems, she creates the free weekly newsletter, writes blogs, coordinates live events, and collaborates on new product development. No stranger to working with dead people, Lacey holds a degree in Forensic Anthropology, and is passionate about criminal justice and investigative techniques. She is the proud dog mom of Renly the corgi.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!
The National Archives is marking the World War I Centennial with a new app, as well as programs and exhibits. Here’s the scoop from their press release:
The United States declared war on April 6, 1917
Washington, DC – The National Archives marks today’s World War I Centennial with a new mobile app, special programs, featured document displays, traveling exhibits, and a special new webpage highlighting all related resources on National Archives News.
Remembering WWI App
Today, the National Archives launches the Remembering WWI interactive app, now available free of charge through iTunes(iPad only) and Google Play. The app commemorates the 100-year anniversary, in April 2017, of the U.S. entry into World War I.
The app provides an unprecedented collection of WWI content digitized and preserved as part of the larger Wartime Films Project – much of it never-before-seen by the public – including photos and film shot by the U.S. Signal Corps from 1914 –1920.
National Archives’ partners for the design and testing of the app included: Historypin, Library of Congress, Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, WWI Centennial Commission, WWI Museum, and, American Association of State and Local History. This project is made possible in part by an anonymous donor and the National Archives Foundation.
Saving World War I and II Media through Digitization and Crowdsourcing
Thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor, the National Archives embarked on a three-year project to digitize and create public engagement with World War I and II motion pictures and photographs. The project’s original goal was to digitize 70 films and 75,000 photos, and foster engagement on the new digital platform, but by the end of the project, the National Archives had digitized 164 films (337 reels) for more than 65 hours’ worth of content, in addition to more than 100,000 photographs. This is the first time that many of these photos and films will be viewed by the public. All scans are available through the National Archives Catalog or on our YouTube page.
Special WWI-related Exhibits
Featured Document Display: Making the World Safe for Democracy: U.S. Enters WWI East Rotunda Gallery, National Archives Museum, through May 3, 2017
To commemorate this centennial, the National Archives presents a special display of the Joint Resolution declaring war against the Imperial German Government, April 6, 1917. President Woodrow Wilson signed this declaration of war on April 6, 1917, ending America’s neutral stance on the World War conflict and formally declaring war against Germany. The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Document” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund.
Traveling Exhibit: Over Here: Americans at Home in World War I
Over Here: Americans at Home in World War I draws on the unparalleled holdings of the National Archives to capture the patriotic fervor of draft registration, the emotional good-byes of men leaving for training camps, the “hoopla” of Liberty Loan drives, the craze for volunteerism, and the violence of vigilantism. The exhibit is divided into three themes: Mobilizing the Nation, Stirring Patriotic Passions, and Policing Enemies at Home. Over Here is organized by the National Archives, and traveled by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service (NATES).
Traveling Exhibit: Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I
After the United States entered World War I, 1917, millions of American men joined or were drafted into the armed services. Some 2 million served in Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces. Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I showcases World War I overseas military photography from the immense photographic holdings of the National Archives. The exhibition includes photographs from the fronts, behind the lines, and the consequences of the war and how it was remembered. Over There is organized by the National Archives, and traveled by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service (NATES).
World War I Social Media Day Events in DC, nationwide, and online!
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 Join the National Archives to participate in World War I Social Media Day, hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Museums, archives, and other educational institutions around the world will share a day of social media activity focused on #WorldWar1 history.
Facebook: World War I in Photos: A Peek inside the Special Media Research Room 10:30 a.m.—Military historian and archivist Mitchell Yockelson showcases his favorite photographs from the war and answers your questions. National Archives on Facebook
Facebook Live with the National Archives at NYC: Online resources for WWI Military Records 2 p.m.—Tune in to Facebook Live for a recap of our Finding Family Genealogy Series, which will be discussing online resources for veterans and military records related to World War I. National Archives at New York City on Facebook
Digital Catalog: Tagging mission: World War I posters All day—Become a citizen archivist and join us to help “tag” World War I posters. By adding keywords of details and features found on the poster in our catalog, you can help make them more accessible to researchers, students, and the public. Educators and classroom teachers, this is a great way to get students involved in doing American history! New to tagging? Get started!
Transcription mission: Fire and Orientation notes by Harry S. Truman All day—Calling all military history buffs! Help us to transcribe Harry S. Truman’s handwritten notes that he took during his training to learn to fire the French 75 millimeter guns that his artillery unit used while in France. Learn about the future President’s experience during the war. Get started!