Do you have ancestors or relatives who served in the military?
As we peer into our past, we often find family members who served on land or sea in many countries and in many capacities. Some were on-the-ground forces, while others filled support roles such as tailors, doctors, nurses, cooks or musicians.
London's Imperial War Museum has organized a Family History Day on Saturday, November 6, sponsored by MyHeritage.com. The event will assist participants - from beginners to experienced family historians - to learn how the Blitz affected families, the roles relatives played to help win the war, the aftermath of this history in today's families, and what records are accessible for more information.
The Imperial War Museum is the museum of everyone’s story: the history of modern conflict told through the stories of those who were there. It is an educational and historical institution responsible for archives, collections and sites of outstanding national importance. You can view the Museum’s main website here.
Women as well as men have served in diverse capacities in all US military branches - Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and the Coast Guard. For information on women veterans from Colonial to contemporary times, view stories here (scroll down to see other relevant pages on that site), and a time line here. For a collection of photos and artifacts documenting women's service, click here.
One Civil War surgeon - Dr Mary Edwards Walker (photo left) - was the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor.
Accessible records include regiment lists, files for widows' pensions, death and burial records, medals, hospital lists for the wounded, transport lists and many other records, each supplying another piece of the family history puzzle.
Where can you find more information on those who served?
If you are lucky, these lifecycle events will be documented in the newspapers where your family lived. The pages also allow us to glimpse how people lived, what they bought, what they ate, their social activities and more through advertisements and local event coverage.
If your family lived in New Mexico, you may find information dating back to 1860, as the University of New Mexico Libraries has just received a major grant to digitize the state's old newspapers (1860-1922).
After reconnecting with someone whom I knew in California and who was now in New Jersey, I realized her husband's family's long connection to a small community, now a suburb of a larger city, in that Eastern state. My own family had a long-ago connection to the same community when it was much, much smaller, and more rural.
My great-grandmother's sister and her husband had settled in that small town soon after they arrived in 1905, although my great-grandmother and her family lived in nearby big-city Newark.
I took a chance and asked if the woman's husband, whose family had lived there from the early 1900s, possibly had known my relatives. It was very exciting to learn that my great-grandmother's sister had been the husband's babysitter!
Genealogists are not normally a wild bunch.
Our "happy dances" tend to accompany the discovery of new records for elusive ancestors.
Our "wild and crazy" moments happen as we help others find answers to their family history questions or help them locate hard-to-find records. We enjoy discovering the clues and pointers in both unusual and ordinary places.
This week produced two interesting developments.
I'm in northern California - Silicon Valley - at the home of friends, as I rest from one conference and rest up for three more in quick succession with only a day between each, beginning this coming weekend.
So, along with continuing prep work for my presentations - and blogging - it's nice to get in some fun. Fun, to those of us who pursue our roots, can mean many things.
My friend Rosanne is a semi-retired reference librarian - and an accomplished genealogist. I went with her to her library one day last week. As we parked, I noticed this great license plate on the adjacent car. We agreed that the vehicle MUST belong to a genealogist.
Each search engine seems to produce different results. Google, Bing, Yahoo.
I tried a quick search recently using all three. The goal of my search was Vorotinschtina, a small agricultural colony established in the 1830s, adjacent to the hamlet of Zaverezhye, about 12 miles southwest of Mogilev, Belarus.
53' 50" N 30'03" E
101 mi E of Minsk
Vorotinshtina [Yid], Vorotinschtina, Worotyńszczyzna [Pol], Vorotinschtina-Zaverezhye
53'50" N 30'03" E
101 mi E of Minsk
Zaverezh'ye [Rus], Zaverezhye
Results for each set of results pulled items from FamilyTreeDNA.com, JewishGen, blog posts from MyHeritage Genealogy Blog and Tracing the Tribe blog, YNetNews, Jerusalem Post.
Bing produced 14 results. and did not seem to pick up on many blog posts.
Google returned 102 hits, many were duplicates, leaving 28 "real" ones, and one in Spanish.
Yahoo offered 42.
As another simple test of all three, I decided to search for myself to see what numbers each would pick up. I used "schelly talalay dardashti" as the search parameter to limit it to myself and skip mentions of cousins in both families, etc.
Bing 4,520 (but could not click on results higher than 450).
Yahoo: 7,340, including Facebook
Closer to home, decided to see where and how MyHeritage.com's new Family Tree Builder 4 fared. Here are the results for "MyHeritage.com Family Tree Builder 4.0" -
Results for "MyHeritage.com" without FTB 4.0: