Death and Burial Practices in World War I and World War II

You’ll want to see a great presentation by Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, on Death and Burial Practices in World War I and World War II, a webinar on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars site. Rick walks you through the procedures used to identify, bury, and honor U.S. war dead, and the records created in that process. It’s free to all to view through 26 January 2021.

As the webinar description states: “Much of this webinar focuses on the process of collecting, identifying, and burying the dead, and the resulting records, including their genealogical significance. In World War I (1917–1918) there were 53,402 battle deaths, while in World War II (1941–1945) battle deaths rose to 291,557. There are 124,905 American war dead interred overseas. This webinar also addresses how the United States honors and memorializes those killed in battle, including the role of the American Battle Monuments Commission, the American Gold Star Mothers program, and the operation of the Army’s Grave Registration Service.”

Military Records for African-American Genealogy

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Afro-American Historical Society’s 2018 Black History Month Genealogy Conference in Laurel, Maryland. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with Alice F. Harris and Bernice Bennett, and to meet Marvin T. Jones, Erwin Polk, and others. All lecture handouts are available on the conference website. Much of my handout, Military Records for African-American Genealogy: Suggestions for Researchers, is applicable to all researchers regardless of color. I hope you’ll find it useful.

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The 1973 Fire: New Hope in Recovering Burned and Brittle Records

Most researchers have heard of the 1973 fire at the National Military Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis, Missouri, that destroyed 80% of certain Army personnel records for persons discharged from November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1960, and 75% of certain Air Force personnel records for persons discharged from September 25, 1947, to January 1,1964 (names alphabetically after Hubbard).

Records that were entirely consumed by fire are gone, but there is new hope for surviving highly burned or damaged records. There is amazing work being done by NARA’s Conservation Staff in Saint Louis to recover and make available records that were previously too fragile to handle. Preservation Specialist Ashley Cox shows and explains what’s being done in the 33 minute video, “A is for Archives, B is for Burn File” from the 2017 NARA Virtual Genealogy Fair.

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Internment of Enemy Aliens During World War I

The internment of over 110,000 Japanese citizens and Americans of Japanese descent during World War II is well-known. In contrast, U.S. internment of over 6,000 German citizens and other enemy aliens during the First World War has been largely forgotten.

Was your ancestor interned? Read my article, “Internment of Enemy Aliens During World War I” for more information. I recommend starting with online newspaper databases which sometimes contain news reports about aliens arrested and detained. Then, you’ll want to locate federal records in the custody of the U.S. National Archives. My article will introduce you to available records and how to request record searches and copies.

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Photo: Enemy aliens interned at Fort Douglas, Utah, pass the time by building model ships. 165-WW-161C-94. NAID 31478939. American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-18; Record Group 165, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs; National Archives at College Park, MD. 

Library of Congress Webinars Will Discuss World War I

Our friends at the Library of Congress will highlight the Library’s World War I resources with a series of five free 40-minute webinars in Summer and Fall 2017. Registration is required for each event. After the webinars, the Library will make recordings of the sessions available at their site. Check back two weeks after the event to access the webinar.

Titles of the webinars are:
• Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I
• Over Here, Over There: Immigrant Veterans of World War I
• Woodrow Wilson Chooses War
• Lest Liberty Perish: Joseph Pennell and World War I
• Charles Hamilton Houston & World War I

Additional information, including how to register, can be found at https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/ world-war-i-american-experiences/events-and-resources/

World War I Records Online

April 6, 2017, marked the 100th anniversary of America’s entrance into the Great War. After remaining neutral for three years, the United States reluctantly entered what was supposed to be “The War to End All Wars.” By declaring war, President Woodrow Wilson committed the nation to join the other Allied countries in their efforts to defeat the German-led Central Powers.

As the largest repository of American World War I records, the National Archives invites you to browse the wealth of records and information documenting the U.S. experience in this conflict, including photographs, documents, audiovisual recordings, educational resources, articles, blog posts, lectures, and events from its new World War I Centennial portal. This portal links to selected digitized records.

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