Sunday, May 1, 2011

Perhaps He Repaired Watches - Post WWII

Obituaries and Career/Trade Research Leads

Even though WWII era census records, 1940, have not yet been released, obituaries are a good replacement to verify ancestor's vocations.  Obituaries hold data to help us trace our allusive WWII ancestor  - especially if he attended a school to learn his trade.

Our veterans served in WWII and came home to a country depleted of skilled laborers.  Jewelry stores and watch repair shops across the nation were holding thousands of mechanical watches in vaults needing repairs. And, as did many business sectors, watchmaking schools across the USA met the challenge of training veterans. 

Your veteran ancestor may not have remained in the city of his training, but school records, proud of their skilled force placement, may have documented your ancestor's whereabouts.  Coupled with city directories, VA records and other sources, you are well on your way to tell the story of your soldier.
Watchmaking Schools
Horology schools could take up to 3 years to complete, but the average was about 18 months.  The most popular Watch Repair school, opened its doors in 1945 for disabled veterans and invalids. Arde Bulova, named it for his father Joseph, who founded the Bulova Watch Company in New York in 1875. This school trained thousands of veterans in watchmaking up to the Vietnam era, closing its doors in 1997.

The Kansas City School of Watchmaking was founded in 1936 by Gustave Van Erp. Ninety percent (90 %) of its enrollees were war veterans who were  "attracted by the assurance of a job once training is completed."  Information on this popular midwest school, founded 21 Sep 1946 can be found at the Kansas City Public Library, Business Week, Missouri Valley Room Collection.  The collection holds photos of its location and text.

Where to Begin
Whether millinery, embalming, tailoring or watchmaking, to begin your search you may wish to peruse the College & private school directory of the United States series by the American Educational Association, Educational Aid Society, Educational Bureau, inc, Educational Societies Corp  to confirm vocational school locations.  

Kathleen Brandt

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