Posted by Jennifer Holik on November 9, 2016 in In The Community

I attended the Ancestry.com breakfast at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference at the end of August this year. One of the speakers told attendees that Ancestry is passionate about saving the stories of an individual and family. The company continually looks for ways to preserve the stories for generations to come through their online family trees. Hearing this made me happy because stories are what I strive to preserve through the World War II education I provide. I encourage everyone I meet to write the stories of their families so they are not lost to time.

How can we preserve more information and create better stories?

Adding more information in our Ancestry Member Trees allows LifeStory to create an incredible timeline of an individual’s life. The more information you enter, the more local and world events that may be connected to your individual appear. These events may trigger other ideas into how you can tell the stories of your family members. They may also trigger questions you’ll want to ask family members about specific events.

Entering military details into your tree provide another opportunity in addition to preserving the individual’s story. You have the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers who are related to your family, and also European researchers interested in learning about an American soldier they are researching.

Tips! Read more about entering military facts into your tree in my article, Preserving a Veteran’s Military History. You can learn more about connecting with European researchers through my post, Honoring World War II Service Together.

Many Americans don’t realize there are many researchers in Europe seeking information on our American soldiers from World War II. Some are individuals who adopted a grave at one of the American Battle Monument Commission (ABMC) cemeteries or some research those who liberated their towns. Many use Ancestry Member Trees to locate family members with whom they can connect and share information. How can you use your online tree and LifeStory to better connect with these researchers?

  • Add as much information to your tree as possible. Include the major battles and campaigns in which they fought. Add the names of towns they passed through based on the military records. TIP! Check the spelling against Google Maps and see if the spelling in the report is how the town name is actually spelled. Sometimes the towns were typed phonetically and not how they were actually spelled, which can cause confusion as to location.
  • Create maps based on where your soldier was and upload those.
  • Add the military facts as discussed in the other articles. Connect military records to these facts.
  • Consider creating a fact on military that has a description that says something like, ‘I’m looking to connect with other researchers interested in my soldier’s history or the unit history.’ You never know who will see that and choose to contact you.

After adding your own information, and working with overseas researchers to learn more, once you include the facts in your tree, Lifestory will present you with an in-depth history of your soldier. You can take this information and download it into your family tree database and then use the Report functions to export the narrative to write a story, journal article, or book. You can also use the information to create an Ancestry photobook through Alexanders. Both options are wonderful ways to preserve the stories and pass them to your family and future generations.

How have you used LifeStory to create your soldier’s story? Have you had contact with other researchers, especially overseas, to piece together their service puzzle? How have you used the information entered to create a product (calendar, book, magazine or journal article, etc.) to share the story? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jennifer Holik

Jennifer Holik is an international WWII researcher, speaker, and author of the only authoritative books on the market, “Stories from the World War II Battlefield,” which teach individuals how to research WWII service across any branch. She can be found at her website The World War II Research and Writing Center or on Facebook.

3 Comments

  1. sara danison

    Thank you so much for how-to regarding entering a story and the rest. I am interested in connecting with others regarding military service of military components.

  2. Patty Grubbs

    Dear Ancestry.com I Dont know who my parents are. I was given away when I was a small child. I was adopted by a wonderful lady when I turned 18,years old. I would like to donate my DNA and would like you to test it. I Dont have any money. Can you do this test for free for me? Thank you!!!

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