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. 

Webinar: “World War I Repatriations” on Thursday, October 26, 2017, 1 p.m. Eastern.

An historian from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will present a webinar on Thursday, October 26, 2017, at 1 p.m. Eastern time., on World War I Repatriations. THIS WEBINAR WILL NOT BE RECORDED.

Did you know that hundreds of native-born and naturalized Americans lost their U.S. citizenship by serving in the armed forces of an allied country during WWI? Whether eager to join the Allied cause before the U.S. entered the war or wishing to fight in their native countries, many Americans joined foreign allied armies. Most desired to remain U.S. citizens and were even unaware that their enlistment had stripped them of their citizenship. To aid these expatriated Americans, Congress passed the Act of October 5, 1917, which allowed them to take the Oath of Renunciation Allegiance and reassume U.S. citizenship.

This webinar will use real case file examples to explore how Americans who were expatriated through service in the armed forces of an allied country during WWI regained their U.S. citizenship.

How to Attend

1.  Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) History and Genealogy web page.

2.  Click “Guide to I&N History: Thursday, Oct 26.”

3.  Click “Attend Session” just before the webinar start time at 1 p.m. Eastern.

National Archives 2017 Virtual Genealogy Fair Online on Oct. 25, 2017

The National Archives and Records Administration will have its 2017 Virtual Genealogy Fair online on Oct. 25, 2017. If you miss any part of it, don’t worry, it will be posted online at a later date.

If you missed the 2013 to 2016 Virtual Genealogy Fairs, you’re still in luck – all the videos, PowerPoints, and other handouts are still online. Just follow these links:

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/

“Disloyalty,” Naturalization, and World War I , USCIS webinar today, June 29, 2017, 1 p.m.

From the USCIS History Office:

I&N History Webinar: “Disloyalty,” Naturalization, and World War I

The First World War inspired patriotism in both native-born and immigrant Americans. At the same time, some immigrant groups fell under suspicion of being disloyal to the U.S. war effort. So, in the years surrounding the war, the Bureau of Naturalization investigated the loyalty of naturalizing immigrants to ensure that only fully qualified immigrants became citizens.

As part of the USCIS History Office’s ongoing commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I, this webinar examines the Bureau of Naturalization’s loyalty investigations during the war and the Bureau’s efforts to revoke citizenship from naturalized citizens it deemed disloyal. In the webinar, you will learn about the Bureau’s wartime activities through primary-source examples of loyalty investigation files and cancelled certificate of naturalization files.

To join the webinar, find the June 29 webinar “Disloyalty,” Naturalization, and World War I and click “Attend Session” just before it starts at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, June 29.

Please note: This webinar will not be recorded, so be sure to join it live.

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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