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# Wednesday, August 13, 2008
NARA to Release Records on WWII Intelligence Officers
Posted by Diane

On Aug. 14, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will open more than 35,000 personnel files of men and women who served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the country’s intelligence agency during World War II.

The files, located at NARA’s College Park. Md., facility, cover civilian and military OSS personnel who died while in service or were transferred, discharged or reassigned prior to 1947.

Records document applications, training and work assignments, pay, leave and travel, evaluations, basic medical information, awards and decorations, and discharges. Some files have special citations for combat actions or major intelligence missions.

The files are arranged by name, so you can use NARA’s Archival Research Catalog to search for people with OSS files. It’s a little tricky—here’s how I did it:
1. In the Archival Research Catalog, make sure the Archival Description tab is selected (it should be the default).
2. Type 1593270 (the OSS ARC identifier) into the search field and click Search.
3.  Click the link for the single result.
4. Scroll down and click the Search Within This Series icon to search for a name (the search may take awhile). Or, to browse names, click the link “15,169 file units described in ARC.”
You don’t get much identifying information, just the person’s name and serial number, which you can use it to order copies from NARA.

Fun fact: Julia Child (then Julia McWilliams) served in the OSS, where she helped develop repellant so sharks wouldn’t foil US efforts to blow up German U-boats. She also met her her future husband, Paul Child, another OSS member.

See NARA’s Web site for more background information on OSS records.


Libraries and Archives | Military records
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 10:33:58 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, August 11, 2008
Researching African-American Historical Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Tune in to the most recent Genealogy Guys podcast to hear about a new resource for African-American researchers, Finding and Using African American Newspapers by Tim Pinnick (Gregath Publishing).

Genealogists often shy away from searching through old newspapers because it requires digging up the names of sometimes-obscure titles, and often traveling to the library and enduring lots of microfilm-scrolling. And most of us seem to assume our ancestors weren’t newsworthy, anyway.

In an excerpt on his Web site, Pinnick ticks off the benefits of historical newspapers for African-American researchers in particular: articles that associate an ancestor with a slaveholding family, birth and death dates before vital records were kept, freed slaves’ notices seeking information about loved ones, society pages with family members’ comings and goings.

A few additional resources for African-American newspapers (feel free to click comment and add others you know of):
  • Freedom’s Journal, published in New York City, is digitized at the Wisconsin Historical Society Web site.

African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, August 11, 2008 5:22:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, August 08, 2008
101 Sites: FamilySearch Labs and Florida Memory
Posted by Diane

Here are this week's 101 Best Web Sites highlights. See the rest of the list at FamilyTreeMagazine.com:
  • FamilySearch Labs is where you can access cool new tools that one day will be part of the main FamilySearch site. That includes the Web-based tool volunteers all over the world use to index digitized records, a family tree application (currently being rolled out to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ locations) and the Record Search Pilot. Webmasters recently added a global map that lets you search records from particular areas of the world.

Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, August 08, 2008 2:54:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Chinese Genealogy Resources and Ancestry.com’s Jiapu.cn
Posted by Diane

We’ve heard some questions about Ancestry.com’s recently launched Chinese site, Jiapu.cn, and help for researchers who want to use it but don’t know Chinese.

“There isn’t an English version of the Chinese site, just as there isn’t an English version of our Italian, French, German or Swedish sites,” says Simon Zivian, spokesperson for the Ancestry.com’s international business. “These international sites have been launched in local markets for those markets.”

In addition, the jiapu (family histories) on the site are in Chinese.

You can get a rough translation using Google’s Web page translator, but you’d need to search using Chinese characters, and you’d need translation help with the digitized records.

For translation help, I’d suggest contacting a university Asian Studies department or a local Chinese organization to ask for recommendations. Here are a few other Chinese genealogy resources:
  • China Gateway
    Links to repositories in North America, China and elsewhere that have Chinese collections
I did a search for professional genealogists specializing in Chinese research and came up empty. Hit Comment and add a post if you know of one.


Asian roots | Genealogy Web Sites | International Genealogy
Friday, August 08, 2008 2:25:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, August 07, 2008
Free Database of the Week: Virginia WWI Veterans Surveys
Posted by Diane

In 1919, as part of an effort to preserve the stories of Virginians in the Great War, a governor-appointed Historical Commission sent questionnaires to the state's returning WWI soldiers and nurses.  

A full narrative of the completed questionnaires was never published, and the records ended up with the Library of Virginia.

Now they’re in a database of more than 14,900 records, one for each respondent, linked to digitized images of each questionnaire page plus any accompanying photographs or other material.

The completed questionnaires hold a wealth of data, including names, dates, places, educational and religious background, and military service details. Soldiers also answered questions about their wartime experiences and how war affected their personal values. See the library Web site for more on this collection.

You can search on a keyword (such as a name or hometown) or phrase, or enter a word to browse alphabetically adjacent records.

Search results come in table form; click the number on the far left to bring up the catalog entry. Next, click the URL next to the document icon, then click the link to a page of the questionnaire.


Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | Military records
Thursday, August 07, 2008 4:40:18 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Ancestry.com Launches Chinese Site
Posted by Diane

First, The Generations Network (owner of Ancestry.com) just launched a Chinese family history Web site at jiapu.cn.

The site, written in Chinese, provides access to jiapu (family histories) online. They're available through a partnership with the Shanghai Library, which holds the largest collection of Chinese family history records in the world. So far, 1,450 jiapu covering 270 surnames are online; eventually, jiapu.cn will contain 22,700 jiapu.

As of now, the family histories are accessible at no cost.

Ancestry.com | Asian roots | International Genealogy
Wednesday, August 06, 2008 5:07:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Show Your Stuff in the Genealogy Blogger Olympics
Posted by Diane

Challenge yourself to go for the gold in your family tree research by participating in the Summer 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games.

The Games, sponsored by bloggers at AnceStories and elsewhere, are open to members of the Facebook Genea-Blogger Group (which you can sign up for after becoming a member of Facebook).

No shotput-hurling or pole-vaulting here. The five events in the Genea-Blogger Games include citing sources, backing up data, organizing your research, writing about your family history and performing acts of genealogical kindness.

You’ll keep track of your own points and record your progress on your blog. Win enough points, and you’ll receive a medal to display there.

Competitors must register by 3 pm PDT Aug. 7, and the Games are on Aug. 9-23. See the AnceStories blog for registration instructions, detailed descriptions of each event and scorekeeping guidelines.

Now’s the time for all that genealogy training to pay off—let the games begin!


Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun
Tuesday, August 05, 2008 2:20:23 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
Genealogical Society Fundraising Idea
Posted by Diane

Several members of the FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum have mentioned fundraising as a challenge for genealogical societies.

If you register with the shopping site GoodShop, your society can earn money when people select it from a list of charities and schools, then shop on participating Web sites (including eBay, PetSmart, Target, J. Crew and more). The retailer then donates a designated portion of the purchase (averaging about 3 percent) to your group.

How do you add your society to the potential beneficiaries? If the group is a registered nonprofit, you can submit it for participation. The approval process takes a couple of days.

GoodShop has a search engine called GoodSearch that works similarly: A Web surfer selects a charity and then does a search (powered by Yahoo!), and the charity gets a small donation from advertisers on GoodSearch.

I counted at least 15 genealogical societies already on the GoodShop/GoodSearch list. See if your society is one of them here.


Genealogy societies
Tuesday, August 05, 2008 1:16:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, August 04, 2008
Let the Games Begin!
Posted by Grace

Attention around the world is already turning to Beijing, where the 2008 Summer Olympics begins this Friday. To get you in the sporting mood, we've collected some great resources on Olympics history.

The New York Times has a great audio slideshow about legendary Olympians. The interviewees include John Carlos (the runner who raised a gloved fist during the awards ceremony in 1968), Nadia Comaneci and Mark Spitz.

Britannica.com has an in-depth history of the games, and Kodak shows great Olympics moments in pictures.

The New York Times' Olympics blog also has a roundup of past official songs of the games complete with YouTube videos. Some are very memorable (like Gloria Estefan's "Reach")—others I'd much rather forget I ever heard.



More current Olympics information:


Genealogy fun | Oral History | Social History | Videos
Monday, August 04, 2008 1:48:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, August 01, 2008
Google Creates Wikipedia Rival
Posted by Grace

Wikipedia—the crowdsourced encyclopedia—has a lot of strengths. Calling on the knowledge of all its users, Wikipedia is able to revise and rewrite articles to update them instantly. Because there's no space limit, even Alabama's Boll Weevil Monument, government cheese and Hoovervilles have their own entries.

But it also has one big weakness: Because anybody can edit or write practically anything, it's difficult to have absolute confidence that all its contents are accurate.

Knol, a new project from Google, aims to collect information on every topic under the sun—from experts, not anonymous editors. Google refrains from editing knols (units of knowledge), but other users can submit comments and reviews. Think of it as a more moderated version of Wikipedia's Wild West.

The site debuted (as Wired reported) with articles mainly on medical conditions. I'm curious to see how long it takes Knol to amass an amount of articles to compete with Wikipedia. Knol's articles on genealogy currently are pretty limited. Any volunteers?

Genealogy Web Sites | Research Tips
Friday, August 01, 2008 2:22:02 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]