This week I shared some tips on preserving your veteran’s military history on your Ancestry Member Tree. Today I’d like to share some ways to help you preserve your community’s military history.
Many genealogists are involved in their local genealogy or historical organizations. These groups often work on projects to preserve local history, write books or articles on individuals, and help erect war memorials. Is this something your organization might be interested in doing? Not sure where to start?
I’d like to introduce you to the Pullman State Historic Site. Pullman is a neighborhood in the suburbs of Chicago, founded by George Pullman, the manufacturer of the famous Pullman railroad car. Many World War II soldiers rode in these as they traveled across the country from one training location to another. You can read more about him on the site, which contains a lot of genealogical information.
Also in the site is a link to the People of Pullman. If you scroll down this page you will find a lot of genealogical information on the residents of Pullman. At the bottom of the page you will find Lest We Forget. This section discusses the war memorial and Pullman residents who fought and died in wars beginning with World War I and on through the present.
Why is Lest We Forget important? This historic site has done an incredible job using genealogical information to document an entire neighborhood. You can do this with your village, town, or city as well, focusing on the veterans.
What resources can you use to help document your community’s military service?
Begin the search on Ancestry for census records. The Pullman project used census records to document every resident of Pullman. We know census records also provide information on military service.
Check all available military databases on Ancestry. Many of these databases will lead you to offline records that add more details to the story.
Search yearbooks and photographs to locate photos of the residents.
Connect with people through Ancestry Member Trees to help share information you discover through offline resources in your town. You might be able to help someone break down a brick wall!
Military pages on specific individuals can be added in Fold3.com in the Honor Wall area. Photos can be uploaded, records attached, family information and stories added. Creating Honor Wall pages, if they do not already exist, is a great way to honor those in your community. The creation of these pages may also lead to family members contacting you to share information for the project.
Fold3.com also has many records to help you research military service. New collections are added often so check back and see what is happening on the site. Visit their blog and read about military history events and connect with other researchers through the comments. Through comments last year, someone from the WWII 9th Infantry Division Association contacted me to speak at their WWII reunion this year. You never know what kind of connection you will make to help further your town’s projects.
Newspapers are one of the favorite resources for genealogists. Creatively searching them often provides us with details about military service we did not know, or that needs to be verified. Newspapers provided photographs of soldiers, especially those Killed In Action. During World War II, many papers printed letters from soldiers. The letters may give you a different perspective on the soldier and the war.
Have you helped your community worked on a memorial project for any war? We’d love to hear your experience and what resources were helpful in preserving the military history and stories.