Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tips to Researching WWI War Brides

Did Your WWI Veteran Marry Overseas?
There are plenty of WWII sources for researching war brides, but a WWI search can be challenging in the USA.Over ten thousand American soldiers married overseas during WWI. So how can you find your ancestors' records?

“War bride” is the common term used to define foreign marriages of soldiers. These marriages took place overseas, and since the law stated “women could be American citizens by marriage,” these newlyweds were protected and transported to America by the American Government. Reference Female Ancestor Citizenship Confusion? Part II.

What to expect? 
Passport Application by Wife
An Application by the Wife of a Member of the Naval, or Military Forces of the US for a Certificate to Depart for the United States gives in-depth genealogical information of your ancestor. has digitized a collection of "Applications of Wives of Members of the AEF in Europe, 1919 - 1920. This collection is part of the US Consular Posts.

Emergency Passport Applications issued to brides for US Transport may also assist in learning more. And may even hold a photo of the bride. For more information read Passport Applications.

Emergency Passport Application
Ship Manifests 
You may locate the ship manifests that recorded the bride and even children born overseas. Begin your search with the Ellis Island ship manifests.

Overseas Marriage Licenses
Researchers often bypass the task of looking for an overseas marriage license. But this license holds a wealth of genealogical data on both your veteran and the bride. Be sure to scour your veteran's service record; but it may also be attached to the brides passport or naturalization record. 

For More Information
Be sure to read 12 Resources for Researching WWI Overseas Marriages for more information and a comprehensive list of research tips.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

6 Places To Look for WWII Veteran Photos

WWII, 464th Bomb Group
Marines and Air Force Crews
What researcher doesn’t want a photo of their veteran ancestor in uniform surrounded by their crew-mates? It’s even better when the faces in the photo are officially identified. Few researchers dig deep enough to locate military photos of their ancestors. But we may find a photo for our veteran?

Resources for Marines and Air Force Crews
(Resources for other branches will be in a subsequent blog).

On Line Research
  1. a subscription base website opens our world to digitized military records. If you want to  just test it out, try your local genealogy center, a regional National Archives branch (NARA), or your local Family History Center. is chocked full of photos. But patience and perseverance is needed. In the WWII US Air Force Personnel Photos by country: Italy, England, Northern Africa, West Pacific, etc., there are about 240 photos. (If you have access to the Fold3 account, just click on the link provided.  More photos can be found in the NARA Textural Records (see #5, below).  
  2. University libraries: Although I’d love to give researchers a guideline of which library to contact for your needs, I’ve found there’s no true rhyme or reason to how a collection ends up at any particular library. Ball State University of has Oral History for the 376th Heavy Bombardment Group, 1939 - 1945 that was recorded in Albuquerque, NM.  Whereas, the University of Houston Digital Library can boast to housing a collection of VMB-613 Marine Bombing Squad Photos
  3. Tuskegee Airmen
  4. Websites and Organizations dedicated to Company, Crew, or Group histories.  If you like to sit in front of the TV and Google, you can definitely come across some great finds in Veteran reunion websites. Families who post about their soldier, may also be sharing a photo of yours. We found a great collection for the WWII, 464th Bomb Group for one of our clients.
  5. The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. With tragedy cam a lot of paperwork and sometimes photos were attached in Incident reports. The Individual Deceased Personnel File (also called a 293 file) contains information directly related to the circumstances of someone's death.

    Repository Research 
  6. NARA Collections Textural and Still Pics, College Park, MD. Tackling the NARA can be daunting. But the treasures seem to be never ending. Merchant Marine Casualty files can be found in RG 26, Deceased and War Casualty Seaman's Records, 1937-50.  US Air Force Photo Collection, WWII, can be found in RG345.  There are additional photos of US Air Force  in RG342.  The researcher will leave thinking, so many boxes, so little time. But the visit is worth it as long as you work with the Archivist on duty and not try to tackle this job on your own.
  7. Presidential Libraries, Right when we think we have exhausted all possibilities of finding a photo for our WWII veteran, we learn that additional photos are scattered between the Presidential libraries. Harry S. Truman Library is the most likely starting point, but don’t forget the Dwight D Eisenhower  Presidential Library in Abilene, KS. Its World War 2 Participants and Contemporaries Collection is the home of over 80,000 pages of personal papers, diaries, printed material, and photographs of veterans who served overseas or on the home front.
WWII crew photos are not guaranteed to jump in your line of sight immediately. But, researchers need to know not to overlook this opportunity of finding that one photo of their veteran.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Monday, February 10, 2014

Newspapers for Ancestor Naturalization Research

Kansas City Star, 10 Oct 1927

5 Tips - Checklist
We are always looking for our immigrant ancestors records. Naturalization records are the key to reaching across the pond to continue our family research. And, they hold so much genealogical information: passenger arrival dates,  homeplace, parents’ names, children if applicable, etc.

Let’s Celebrate the New Citizens
Rarely do researchers look for their ancestors’ oath-taking event in newspapers. But, the names were commonly printed across the nation to welcome the new citizens.

Checklist to Naturalization Search
Before going to the NARA, Court Records, or USCIS for your ancestors’ you will need a bit of ancestral information, to include approximate naturalization date, parent’s names, place of birth, etc.  Begin with your online search (i.e.,, but the persistent researcher will reach out to local and Federal repositories. Here is a quick checklist of collections that may hold this needed information: 
  Immigration / Passenger Ship Records - The Ellis Island Foundation database (free) is a great place to start. And, don’t forget the Castle of Gardens passenger records.
  Social Security Applications may verify parents’ names, birth places (a big key), and even a birthplace of your immigrant.
  Voters Registration Application: Know that if your ancestor was a registered voter, he was also a citizen of the USA. Voter’s registration applications may hold immigration and naturalization information embedded in the application.
  Passport Applications may hold your ancestor’s naturalization number. Of course other genealogical information including their arrival date to USA can also be found attached to these applications.
  Newspapers make five great resources. 
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

DNA to the Rescue, II

Marion N. Williams
Identifying the Unknown Soldier
In April 2009 we were presented The Man in the Photo with his assumed name of William Williams. The client had already been searching for her biological family for two years: "Mine is a hard case Kathleen, I've researched myself for two years, my cousin who has a Dr. Degree and is a genealogist bug has helped me.  We've hit many brick walls….The biggest issue is that the name my mother gave me could have been false!”

As often happens, WWII was full of secrets, only to be revealed right before death. This was no different for Ruth. Presented with a photo, and the name William Williams, she spent hours staring into her father’s eyes, believing he died in Alaska.

Armed with Ruth’s information we started searching: “My mother also told me he came from the Reno Kansas area.  He was in the Army Corp. of Engineers during 1944.  He was with my mother at Mt. Gretna Campground Sept. 30th and Oct. 1st l944.”

a3Genelaogy researchers chased down military records of possible candidates, matching vital records and family members of William Williams. The man in the photo could not be identified. We closed the case suggesting a DNA. So Ruth took a 23andMe DNA test August of 2011 and waited. I’d like to say patiently, but it was more on pins and needles.

And she waited….

Then, two years later, Dec 2013, “Voila!!” A 23andMe match had identified a first and second cousin match, both leading to the Williams family. Quick to connect, Ruth forwarded the photo. She received an instant response:  "this is my grandpa, who are you?” Yes Ruth had a nephew…his grandpa, was her dad.

Who was William Williams?
Well, this soldier’s nickname was Bill, but his real name was Marion Williams. He was in Mt. Greta in 1944 - Great! We needed him there, at that time, for conception. And, the newly found nephew presented a train pass for the direct line to Mt. Greta on the Cornwall & Lebanon train that matched our timing.  Williams retired as a Major in 1945, and was in Alaska with the 770 Engineers, but he died in Colorado years later.

With DNA
As Paul Harvey would say…"And, now you know the rest of the story."
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

p.s. Client’s name has been altered but quotes and events are exact.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Presidential Library for Slave Research

Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum
Did You Know?
A slave was sold every 3.6 minutes between 1820-1860 totaling about two (2) million slaves.  Almost four (4) million persons were enslaved by 1860 (3,950,528) by 398,975 slave masters.

These facts posted at the entrance of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum exhibit in Springfield, Illinois either entice visitors to explore the Lincoln era or bypass these dark years of Civil War facts posted on walls and plaques.Perhaps the latter explains the constant flow of patrons to the adjacent Subway.

Know the Era Statistics and Social Implication
Knowing Civil War era data and statistics may assist the genealogists in solidifying pre-civil war ancestors' social and historical climate. Analyzing state Civil War era as well as local, regional, and national events and political climate, will assist in developing your ancestor's war-era life. The divisiveness caused by this war was not just between Missouri and Kansas or north vs. south.  It was reflected within families, neighbors and broader communities. 

Slavery or Slave Owner Research
African American Slavery Research
Quarterly postings of its New Genealogy Resources are available on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum website. Hosted on the Illinois Historical Preservation (IHPA) is the "Generations of Pride",  an African American chronology from 1619 to present day; and a listing of African American Genealogy Resources at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. 

Slave Master Research
Slave research is extended to slave masters.  Did your ancestor increase his net worth through slave "property?"  Did your ancestor not enumerate slaves in the 1850 and 1860 slave census? Perhaps this clue will illuminate your ancestor's political, religious or economic standing in the community and on the issue of slavery.  Perhaps your ancestor's pre-civil war emancipation of slaves reveals a bit on the issue.  Melvin Patrick Ely's book Israel on the Appomattox "describes how Richard Randolph [white], a cousin of Thomas Jefferson, left land upon his death for his former slaves to build new lives for themselves..."[1] In this story, Randolph's character unfolds through slave research.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (ALPL) Research
Genealogists often overlook the resources held at the various Presidential libraries, however much is awaiting the researcher. There are 13 Presidential libraries that are governed by the National Archives, but others, like the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (ALPL), is governed by a state agency and/or preservation organization.  

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (ALPL), in Springfield Illinois, has been progressive in preserving pre-twentieth century genealogy.  This library actively invites family researchers to visit its growing genealogical collections.

Kathleen Brandt

Originally posted 10 Sept 2011

[1] NPR website accessed 10 Sep 2011. Book in author's personal library.