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# Wednesday, 05 April 2017
6 Records to Trace Ancestors Who Served in World War I
Posted by Diane

The United States declared war on Germany 100 years ago this month, on April 6, 1917, joining the side of the Allies in the Great War. See all the countries caught up in the conflict in our timeline of World War I war declarations.

More than 650,000 from Canada and Newfoundland and about 4 million from the United States served in the military. These are two of the US Expeditionary Force soldiers in my family:

 

On the left is Joe Seeger, who enlisted September 1917; and on the right is his brother Norbert (with their father), who enlisted July 1918.

Loss of WWI Service Records in NPRC Fire
When you go to research your WWI ancestors' military service, you'll make a sad discovery: More than 80 percent of US Army service records for those discharged between Nov. 1, 1912 and Jan. 1, 1960 (which includes WWI soldiers) were destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Archives' National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. (You can request surviving WWI service records following these instructions.)

But there are other ways to trace your ancestor's WWI service, including:

1. Draft Registration Cards
More than 24 million men (including immigrants who hadn't naturalized) registered for the draft in 1917 and 1918, although not all of them served. These are widely available on genealogy websites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.

2. State Adjutant General Rosters
Most states issued a roster of soldiers in World War I. Both Joe and Norbert are listed in The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the World War, 1917-18, on Ancestry.com as Ohio Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918. 



3. WWI Transport Service Records
Fold3 just published this collection of passenger lists of military transport ships. Norbert was listed with Supply Co. 336, leaving New York City Oct 27, 1918, and arriving in Liverpool Nov. 8. I had to scroll through the records to find a page with a date and ports.



He was on another ship Nov. 11, but I can't find a page noting where it took him. His last transport took him home: The USS Orizaba departed Brest, France, July 29, 1919, and arrived at Newport News, Va., Aug. 6.

4. Discharge Papers
Most discharged service members registered with their local courthouses on return to their communities. I can't find my WWI servicemen among the veteran discharges in FamilySearch's records for Hamilton County, Ohio, so here's the record for another man:



5. Veterans Surveys
Many communities asked local veterans to complete surveys about their service in the World War. My cousin three times removed Louis E. Thoss filled out this one for the Kentucky Council of Defense (it's now part of the Kenton County Public Library's genealogy database).



The US Army Military History Institute also has a collection of WWI veterans questionnaires completed in the late 1970s, along with photos, letters, memoirs and other materials.

6. Military Headstone Application
When Joe died in 1941, his sister applied for a military headstone based on his WWI service. These are on National Archives microfilm, and digitized on Ancestry.com.



You'll find more ways to research your World War I ancestors in these articles:
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Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | Fold3 | Military records | World War One Genealogy
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 14:54:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 26 September 2014
Genealogy News Corral: Sept. 22-26
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has kicked off a "Meet My Grandma" campaign to gather 10,000 stories about people's grandmas in 10 days. You can share your favorite story about your grandmother by signing in to your FamilySearch account (or registering if you don't yet have an account). Once you add a story, you also can add a photo, tag people named in the story, and attach the story to someone in the FamilySearch Family Tree.


Ancestry.com | Canadian roots | Cemeteries | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Military records | World War One Genealogy | Australian/New Zealand roots
Friday, 26 September 2014 10:20:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 06 August 2014
New, Free Website Has Millions of World War I Prisoner of War Records
Posted by Diane

Documents about millions of soldiers and civilians captured during World War I are now available free on the Prisoners of the First World War website, created by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Eight million soldiers and 2 million civilians were sent to detention camps during the war. The combatants would periodically submit lists of prisoners to the ICRC's International Prisoners of War Agency, established in 1914. The agency received documents recording prisoners' names, capture, transfers between camps, and deaths while detained.

Staff made an index card for each prisoner, with references to records about that person, and filed the cards by nationality and military or civilian status. Here's one for Albert Smith, a British soldier, giving his date of capture, rank and unit:



It also indexed relatives' correspondence—since destroyed—requesting information on their captured loved ones. Part of the ICRC's mission was to help prisoners find their families after the war. Here's a correspondence index card for Albert, with information about him (including his birth date and place), the person who inquired about him with a home address, and his transfer between prisons:



According to the ICRC, 90 percent of the 5 million cards on prisoners and 500,000 pages of records associated with these cards are now searchable on the Prisoners of the First World War website.

You can search for names with the person's nationality (British and Commonwealth, French or Belgian, Romanian, German, American, etc.) and military or civilian status.  If you find a relative's card, hover over it to click a link for "More information about this person." Then you'll be able to enter one of the reference numbers on the card to see the associated document, or click a link for help reading the card.

When I selected the letter code PA and typed the 35004 that appeared on Albert's card, I saw this prisoners list (he's at the bottom):



The site also has examples of index cards (click the link in the site's navigation bar), prison camp information and postcards, and ICRC correspondence.

Researching an ancestor (male or female) who fought or volunteered in the Great War? See the July/August 2014 Family Tree Magazine for more top World War I genealogy websites and resources.


Free Databases | Military records | World War One Genealogy
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 12:25:32 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]