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. Fold3.com 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. Fold3.com 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

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