If you have ties to the Sunflower State, count yourself lucky. We’ve had three Kansas collections go live on Ancestry.com recently: Kansas, Registration Affidavits of Alien Enemies, 1917–1918; Kansas, World War I Veteran Collection, 1917–1919; and Russell County, Kansas, Vitals and Newspaper Records, 1800-1937. Though they’re relatively specific, they contain some interesting records and are well worth a look if you have ancestors who fall into their categories.
Think Patriot Act circa 1917.
When the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, President Wilson authorized the registration of aliens living in the United States. This included all non-naturalized German males age 14 and older, who were classified as enemy aliens. The requirement was later extended to Austro-Hungarian nationals and women as well. Questions asked on the affidavits actually differed for men and women.
While you might not appreciate the possible slight on your ancestor’s patriotism, the extensive details—which can include fingerprints and a photograph—may take some of the sting out of that “enemy” business.
Kansas, World War I Veteran Collection, 1917–1919: The Report of My Death Has Been Exaggerated
This database includes newspaper clippings, photos, service records, letters, and other documents related to Kansas veterans of World War I compiled by members of the Kansas State Historical Society. Those vets include Mark Woodford, who was mistakenly declared dead, as he explains below:
This collection is home to one of my absolute favorite finds of 2011. The database is made up of index cards with details extracted from the Russell County Record and other area newspapers. They include references to birth, marriage, and death announcements, as well as general news items, from reports of accidents to notices about who had visitors or was returning from a trip—plus, there is at least one reference to someone being hung in effigy:
How many folks can claim to have one of those in their family tree? And it even comes with a name and a date.
You may not be in Kansas anymore, but if your ancestors were once, you’ll want to give these three collections—Kansas, Registration Affidavits of Alien Enemies, 1917–1918; Kansas, World War I Veteran Collection, 1917–1919; and Russell County, Kansas, Vitals and Newspaper Records, 1800-1937—a good going over.
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