This session has already been held live. Details on ordering the presentation can be found in our blog post.
Records of those involved in World War I include women and well as men, even though women did not serve in combat.
Ancestry.com‘s “U.S., American Red Cross Nurse Files, 1916-1959” contains employment records of Red Cross nurses who served during the World War I and World War II eras. Nursing was one of the main ways that women were directly in the war effort, especially during the World War I era. Fortunately these files often contain detailed biographical information on the nurses in addition to occasional personal correspondence from them and about them.
Hancock County, Illinois, native Veta Blanche Markley, served as a Red Cross nurse in France and Italy during World War I. The 1893 native of Stillwell, Illinois, was living and working in Quincy, Illinois, at the time she applied to work as a Red Cross nurse. She was the daughter of Charles and Laura (Rampley) Markley of the West Point and Stillwell areas in Hancock County.
The Red Cross Nursing Service file for Veta Blanche Markley contains detailed information on her Red Cross career as well as some details on her nursing career outside of the Red Cross. Her initial application summarizes her educational experience and background. Markley indicated she attended common school and the local three year high school. The high school is not named, but based upon her mother’s residence as stated in the application and where the family is believed to have lived, it’s reasonable to conclude that Veta attended high school in West Point, Illinois. She attended the three year nursing program at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois, from which she graduated.
Markley never married and the only information on her family in the file is a listing of her mother as an emergency contact. There is a letter in the file close to the start of World War II that indicated Markley only wished to be re-enrolled in Red Cross service if absolutely necessary as her mother was not able to live by herself and Markley was taking care of her. Marley lost her Red Cross pin while in Europe during World War I and there are letters in the file after her return home requesting a reissuance of the pin.
Markley required a passport before she could travel to Europe. That passport application repeats biographical information that is contained her Red Cross nurse file, but does include the name of her father.
For those with relatives who served as a Red Cross nurse during the first two-thirds of the 20th century, the Ancestry.com database “U.S., American Red Cross Nurse Files, 1916-1959” may be worth a look.
Veta is a first cousin of my paternal grandfather. Their mothers, Laura (Rampley) Markley (1870-1950) and Fannie (Rampley) Neill (1883-1965), were sisters and grew up in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
“U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939” has been on Ancestry.com for a while, but after seeing some fellow researchers post images I decided to revisit the database.
Some of the lists contain the name of the person that is to be notified in an emergency along with an address. Other lists contain the name of the soldier and his numerical designation. How helpful that information is really depends upon what is known about the soldier. In the case of Bertus Ufkes, the name of the father and address were already known. This database could be a place to locate additional details on the soldier’s unit that may help in locating additional documentation regarding his service
I knew that Bertus’ father was living at the time of World War I, but if I had not then this would have been helpful.
This database apparently can be searched by name of emergency contact if those words are put in the keyword box.
We’ll have a future post with a few additional suggestions for using this database and a neat discovery I made as well.
One can never be certain what’s “really new” on Ancestry.com, what’s “new,” and what’s “recycled.” Sometimes for me it simply is a case of “I don’t remember seeing it before.” The database, “U.S. Phone and Address Directories, 1993-2002,” falls into that last category.
Ancestry.com‘s “source” for this database is as follows:
Ancestry.com. U.S. Phone and Address Directories, 1993-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: 1993-2002 White Pages. Little Rock, AR, USA: Acxiom Corporation.
The search results appear to be gathered by person as the partial list of results for a search of John Ufkes in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, shows:
Clicking on the person of interest pulls up an address and a phone number.
In some cases spouses are listed. But that would depend upon whether or not the spouse was listed in the phone directory in the first place.
There is even an option on page for an individual to “view neighbors.” Users will have to refine that search as the automatic search generated by clicking on that link appears to search for the entire town.
Obviously individuals with unlisted numbers will not be listed (searches I made for myself turned up empty). Age and other identifying information is not included, so users should use this information in concert with other details. But in certain situations such a database may come in handy–particularly for late 20th century research.
As always, use with caution and with your brain turned on (grin!).
I maintain the following blogs:
Each is slightly different and there are subscription links on each page. We do not use “popups” to get people to subscribe.
Thanks—and feel free to share information on our blogs with others who may be interested.
There are not many relatives of mine who have their pictures in the newspaper. Gloria Fecht is one exception. This 1959 issue of the Greeneville News from Greenville, South Carolina, contains a photograph of Fecht and two other lady golfers at an outing in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. The photograph was credited to UPI (United Press International).
Sometimes one is able to find originals of those photographs on Ebay. That is where I located a copy. That actual photograph is of a much higher quality than the image that was made from the newspaper print. The copy I purchased on Ebay has the caption printed directly on it with a UPI stamp on the back. Since the photograph is still under copyright, we’ve opted not to reprint it here.
Whether UPI would care about the use of a photograph of three women golfers from 1959 is a separate matter. But, we’ll err on the side of caution.
At least I have a better copy of the image. There may be other sites where one can buy old copies of pictures that were used for reproduction in newspapers. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments on this post.
The next time I find a wire service picture of someone in a newspaper, I can set up an Ebay alert to search for that person. That would be easier than manually searching and hoping.
Assuming what records contain without knowing can cause us to overlook materials that might help us with our research.
FamilySearch has had “United States, Burial Registers for Military Posts, Camps, and Stations,1768-1921” online for some time.
From the description:
Index and images of burial registers for military posts, camps, and stations, 1768-1921. This collection corresponds with NARA publication M2014, one roll consisting of two volumes of burials, most occurring between 1860 and 1890. The records are from Record Group 92, Records of the Quartermaster General, and are arranged by place of burial then date of death. See the descriptive pamphlet for a list of the posts, camps and stations.
One might be tempted to conclude that only soldiers are listed among the burials. That’s not a valid conclusion. A scan of the registers indicated that spouses and children are among the burials as well as the occasional support staff member. Many of the soldiers appear to have been career soldiers and outside the Civil War time frame.
The descriptive pamphlet can be viewed online at FamilySearch.
I have had paper copies of selected documents of the Civil War widow’s pension file for my aunt Emmar for some time. Emmar was the second wife of John Osenbaugh who served in the 7th Illinois Infantry in the US Civil War. She survived John which is why she was granted a widow’s pension.
The file is a relatively large one. It is not because John’s service was unusual, but because Emmar’s life was. Illustrious service that can be well documented usually does not result in large pension files. Large pension files typically are because there was some “issue” with the application. Often those problems stem around proving the veteran’s service or proving eligibility for a pension. In Emmar’s case it was the number of times she was married that precipitated the amount of paperwork.
For some time I have wanted digital copies of the entire file for two reasons:
- there may be something in there that was overlooked before–or there may not be
- I like the color digital images and now that they are available I’d rather have those when I can
Emmar’s marital history and the termination of those marriages are documented in the widow’s application. Her name was actually:
Emmar (Sargent) Pollard Ross Oades Pollard Snavely Osenbaugh
She left marriage and divorce records in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska and moved several times in her life–all of which is documented in her application. Emmar was even interviewed by a special examiner during the application process. She was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1839, the daughter of Clark and Mary (Dingman) Sargent. She died in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1920.
Civil War pension files are housed in paper format at the National Archives in Washington, DC. They are generally not available online in digital format. Various indexes and finding aids are available online at Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and Fold3.com in addition to other sites. Finding aids at FamilySearch for Civil War era pensions include:
- United States Civil War and Later Pension Index, 1861-1917
- United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934
- United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933
Jonathan Webb Deiss of Soldiersource.com has obtained quite a few files for me in the past. A post he made today to Facebook announced:
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of WW1, I’m offering a significant discount on conducting research into any subject related to the Great War, 1914-1918, at the National Archives. Additionally, Civil War service records and pension case files are 25% off regular prices.
I’ve been very pleased with Jonathan’s services–he can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let him know you found about him on Rootdig.
I’m not affiliated with Soldiersource.com–just someone who has been pleased with his services in the past.
There are differing schools of thought on whether one should use the online trees for research clues. I’ll leave that up to the individual researcher to decide, but I’m firmly convinced that if one uses them
clues are all they should be used for
Copying information from online trees willy-nilly is:
- asking to have many errors in your tree
- potentially calling the work of others your own (unless the tree is meticulously cited)
- repeating potentially incorrect or uncited information
- potentially missing out on the “real story” or the stories that “information surfers” overlooked
Using them responsibly for clues is another matter entirely. I have a forbear who I have is one of my “tree stopping points.” I do not have her parents names, but I know when and where she got married. I can’t connect her to a set of parents, siblings, or anyone else before she married her husband.
There are online trees that claim she fits into a family from the area. The problem is that there’s nothing in any of the trees that ties her to the family…just the fact that she marries in that area when they are living there. One of the online trees has a fair amount of citation to actual records on the family.
None of the trees have any specific document, discussion, informal proof, etc.that indicates why they put my ancestor in the family. They don’t even cite the marriage and say “you know, she married near where these other people were living and they have the same last name and she’s the age of their other children, so we think she’s one too.”
I’m not saying that would be a sufficient reason, but at least it would be a reason. It’s easier for me to decide if I agree or disagree with someone if they have a reason. Sometimes when there’s not a smoking gun that clearly states something, one has to look at several records and reach a conclusion based on those records in the aggregate. That’s fine. I understand that. But at least tell me that “here are the three (or however many) records that make me think she’s their child.” Again…I can then decide to agree or disagree. If there’s nothing indicating why, I’m tempted to think there’s no reason.
Or maybe they just dreamed it
Do I ignore the information in the online tree and research the family from scratch? That’s one option.
Do I use the names, dates, and citations to original records in the online tree in an attempt to find something that connects my person to the family a little more concretely? That’s another option.
Do I copy without analysis the information in the online tree and include it in my database? No. That’s not an option.
My personal preference is to mine the tree for clues, leads, or sources that may help me in my search. Sometimes one does not want to reinvent the wheel. And I have enough families where the trees contain nothing or are clearly so riddled with errors that it’s best to start from scratch.
I do not copy the information directly into my files. I realize others may choose not to use the trees at all. That’s fine. I just want people to think about the information they are entering into their database and analyze it. I do not expect everyone to take the same approach that I do.
I was asked how I handle data from trees that I use for clues. I keep the downloaded information from any online tree separate from my “good” tree in a separate database file. Those databases have “download” as part of the file title. That’s my code to indicate that the information was downloaded from a tree.
For thirty years an image of Mimke and Antje Habben floated around in my head. After all, when thinking about or researching them, picturing an actual human seemed preferable to visualizing the words “Mimke” and “Antje” floating around in the air above my head. The images were not really based upon anything in particular and I cannot remember when I first had them, but they were there. Antje was a shorter and extremely skinnier version of my grandmother–Antje’s great-grand daughter. And Mimke? He was an earlier version of Grandma’s brother Ed who was always clad in pair of bib overalls. Always. The difference was that Mimke would have been wearing the 1870s version of that attire.
And then I found the picture and my vision was replaced with reality. Antje was not a skinnier version of my grandmother and Mimke was not wearing bib overalls. I was glad to have the picture. I was excited beyond belief. It’s not often one finally locates a picture of people when they have been the object of research for thirty years.
But I had to let the visions of them in my head go.
Reality had a different picture of them for me to see.
Much like it is with actual research and the things we find in various records. Sometimes we have to let the mental pictures of our ancestors go. In fact, effective research requires that we do our best to put assumptions about our ancestor aside while researching. We do not want those assumptions to cloud our research or cause us to only look for and read those records that confirm our preconceived vision. It is not possible for us to find the most accurate written “picture” of our ancestor if we determine what is true about them before any records have been located.
We have to put our assumptions aside, locate as many records as we can and interpret those materials in the relevant time and place.
Because it’s the accurate picture of our ancestors that we want. Or at least the most accurate picture we are able to obtain.
When our research is complete, the “real picture” may bear some resemblance to the one we have in our head. Or it may bear just a little bit in a way that we would not have imagined.
Like when I look at that picture of Antje I don’t see a skinny version of my Grandmother–I see a face that bears a subtle resemblance to my mother. And when I look at Mimke, I don’t see anything that remotely resembles my Uncle Ed.
I see my nose right there on Mimke’s face. That infamous Habben nose staring back at me five generations and over one hundred years after the fact.