There are several upcoming webinars sponsored by the Department of the Interior Library that should be of interest to genealogical researchers. For information, see https://www.doi.gov/library/programs/training-sessions. It is necessary to contact the DOI Library in advance of each session for access information.
Civil War Talk Radio with Gerald Prokopowicz recently had two informative episodes that featured guests with connections to the National Archives.
On 23 February 2022, archives specialist Jackie Budell discussed Civil War widows’ pension files, photographic materials in pension files, research at the National Archives, and related subjects.
On 2 February 2022, retired senior military archivist DeAnne Blanton discussed the origins of the Society for Women and the Civil War, of which she served as first president, and her book, They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War, on the 20th anniversary of its publication.
These and all other Civil War Talk Radio shows remain available for listening at Impediments of War.
Staff members at the National Archives at Chicago are tagging various records series in Record Group 21, Records of District Courts of the United States, to make them more accessible to a wider audience.
One of these series is the U.S. District Court, Detroit, Repatriation Records, 1918-1970 (National Archives Identifier 1150838). Between 1907 and 1922, women lost their U.S. citizenship if they married a foreign national. Later, many women wished to regain their U.S. citizenship. Depending upon when they applied, the women were required to file either a Petition for Naturalization or take the Oath of Allegiance. This series primarily includes the latter document. The records consist of eight legal-size archives boxes, and each box contains approximately 700 repatriations. To date, NARA staff has created over 23,000 tags for the series.
For more information about women and naturalization laws, see the excellent two-part article by Marian L. Smith, “‘Any Woman Who is Now or May Hereafter Be Married…’ Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940,” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, Vol. 30, Nos. 2-3 (1998). Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.
If you missed last Tuesday’s USCIS History Office webinar, “Married at Ellis Island…., 1892-1924,” you missed a good one. I won’t review all the details, but here are a few tidbits: It’s estimated that perhaps 300 women a year “married at Ellis Island” to their intended spouse in lieu of deportation on the grounds of “likely to become a public charge” or risk of falling into prostitution. The “Record of Detained Aliens” (title may vary) that follows the regular passenger lists for a given vessel (on microfilm or online) may have the notation “married” or similar words as a part of the information for the detained woman. The marriage record will be found in the New York City marriage records for that period which are online on Ancestry.com. A marriage on the alien woman’s date of arrival or during the day(s) she was detained is a good clue that the marriage happened “at Ellis Island” and was a requirement for her admission to the United States.
It’s become a little bit easier to research Spanish-American War nurses. The National Archives Catalog now identifies 761 women for whom there are correspondence files, primarily for those who wanted to obtain government benefits based on their service. These files are in the series, “Correspondence Relating to the Service of Spanish-American War Contract Nurses, 1898-1939,” which is in Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army). The files themselves are not online, but copies can be requested from email@example.com.
To search for a specific person in the Catalog, you have two options. One option is to click on the catalog link that says “761 file unit(s) described in the catalog.” The files are in alphabetical order.
Here are the first four files:
The second option is to click on the button that says “Search within this series” THEN replace the *.* in the search bar with the surname of interest. Then click on the magnifying glass icon to perform the search. (Yes, that is not an intuitive process.)
Additional records about Spanish-American War nurses in RG 112 include “Personal Data Cards of Spanish-American War Contract Nurses, 1898-1939” (NARA staff has a list of nurses included in that series) and “Registers of Service of Spanish-American War Contract Nurses, 1898-1900.”
When we think of the Civil War, the image that likely immediately springs to mind is that of thousands of men in uniform clashing in epic battles, such as at Gettysburg.
Forgotten are the thousands of women who performed tedious, dirty, inglorious tasks–hospital matrons, hospital nurses, laundresses, cooks, and others. They were there, too, on both sides of the conflict.
Documenting their presence, identity, and contributions, is infuriatingly difficult, however, due to the paucity of records that were kept–or retained. A new article,
“Union Army Laundresses,” NGS Magazine, Vol. 42, No. 3 (July-Sept. 2016): 33-37, breaks new ground by outlining research strategies for documenting the service of hospital laundresses, fort and post laundresses, and camp laundresses.
Most of these women likely came from the poorer end of the economic spectrum. They included African-Americans as well as Caucasians. Their efforts deserved to be better remembered, and I hope this article will encourage research.