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Always Remember and Never Forget

July 28, 2014 by | 1 Comment

From the vantage point of history, there is consensus: the Great War changed everything. World War I resulted in more than 37 million casualties. Empires were lost. An era of new roles for women and civic rights swept the globe. National boundaries were reshaped. Economies were devastated. The world was never the same.

And now, we commemorate 100 years since the Great War started. None of us are untouched by the changes that touch everyone.

The United States entered World War I in April of 1917 and more than 4 million Americans served their country around the world. Their courage, honor, sacrifice and valiant efforts led to the end of the world’s first global conflict just 20 months later on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (Nov. 11, 1918).

Yet, their bravery remains largely unrecognized.

We are pleased today to announce a new collaboration with the National World War I Museum. This will help the nation always remember and never forget.

We’re calling on you to help us.

  • The National World War I Museum is making a historical collection of unique and identified images available on Fold3. View this unique collection here.
  • Discover where your family fits in this story and share your ancestor’s memories, photos, and stories to help us remember and honor those who fought for America. Click here to get started.
  • Help others discover the story. Over the next four years, the National World War I Museum will educate 1,000,000 students about the Great War and its enduring impact during the Centennial. Remembrance begins with discovering. You can help the Museum reach students across the country. Your charitable gift ensures that children will never forget the heroic Americans who brought an end to World War I. We invite you to join with us and the National World War I Museum in reaching 1,000,000 students across the country. Start by clicking here.

Family stories eventually become our nation’s stories. Through this project, we can remember the forgotten stories, which show us how we became who we are today. Be a part of honoring those who served in the war that forever changed the world. Help create remembrance you’ll never forget.

Content Update: WWI Officer Experience Reports

July 21, 2014 by | 6 Comments

Lieutenant James Metzger's WWI Officer Experience ReportIf you’re interested in getting a first-hand look at what life was like for American soldiers in Europe during World War I, try browsing through Fold3′s collection of Officer Experience Reports. More than simply giving summaries of the dates, places, and technical aspects of the men’s service, these reports by engineering officers of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) are personal narratives that allow us a very human view of situations and events in the war.

These AEF engineers engaged in variety of tasks overseas, like building and maintaining roads, running sawmills and lumber operations, operating narrow-gauge railways, and working on construction projects—just to name a few. Engineers often served near the front lines—as well as farther back—in the course of their duties, frequently while under fire from German artillery or while battling nature. Though individuals’ experiences varied widely, as did attitudes, many of the engineers were proud of their service.

Below are some selected Officer Experience Reports you may enjoy, though they are just the tip of the iceberg.

  • 1st Lieutenant James Metzger’s account of his men’s “constant battle with mud and rain” while building a road in France. He felt his experience was “none of the spectacular, but plenty of hard work.”
  • Captain O.B. Martin’s account of building and running a successful sawmill in France with men who, though inexperienced, rose to the occasion. Low on all supplies at first, including horses, they built a stable by hauling poles from a forest a mile away with “American soldiers hitched to borrowed French wagons.”
  • Captain William Millard’s account of building, maintaining, and operating narrow-gauge railways in France to carry supplies to the British. He also recounts being shelled by the Germans and a battle in which several detachments of engineers took part out of necessity.
  • 2nd Lieutenant J.E. Morelock’s account of being an inspector for the Engineer Purchasing Office. Denied a transfer to a combat regiment, Morelock finished his service disillusioned with his role in the war.
  • 1st Lieutenant Lewis Edwards’ and 2nd Lieutenant August Barreau’s accounts of the Spanish flu epidemic, which hit the men on board their transport ships across the Atlantic.

These accounts are just the beginning. You can find many more in Fold3’s WWI Officer Experience Reports.

Access the Revolutionary War Collection

July 14, 2014 by | 2 Comments

Revolutionary War SoldiersAs we celebrate the founding of America this month, learn more about the people who made it possible by exploring Fold3’s Revolutionary War collection for free July 14–31.

If you have Revolutionary War ancestors, you might find them in the Revolutionary War pension files, service records, war rolls, or payment vouchers, or in the Revolutionary War Manuscript File. If you’re interested in the historical aspects of the war, you can explore the captured vessels prize cases, Revolutionary War milestone documents, Pennsylvania Archives, Constitutional Convention records, and the papers and letters of the Continental Congress, among others.

Full access to the Revolutionary War collection can help you find even more information on the people or events you’re researching. For example, from a Revolutionary War pension file, we learn that James Morris of Connecticut served in the Battle of Germantown, where he was taken prisoner of war for three years.

If you want to discover more about Morris, you can look in the war rolls to find a muster roll from Morris’s time as captain of a company in the 5th Connecticut Regiment. If you’re more interested in the Battle of Germantown itself, then you can read George Washington’s account of the battle in the papers of the Continental Congress. But if, on the other hand, you’d rather learn more about prisoner of war experiences in general, you can find other accounts in the pension files as well as in places like the Pennsylvania Archives and papers of the Continental Congress.

There’s a lot to discover in the Revolutionary War collection. Start your own exploration of it here.

World War I Begins:
July 28, 1914

July 1, 2014 by | 25 Comments

This July 28 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I in 1914.

WWI PosterA month before the war began, on June 28, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie had been assassinated during a trip to Bosnia. Initial outrage was strong, as were fears that this would be the instigating event for the European war that had been looming for years. But as the days and weeks passed without Austria-Hungary retaliating against Serbia (whom they believed to be behind the assassination plot), some began to breathe a sigh of relief.

But then, on July 23, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia with various demands regarding Serbia’s response to the assassination and the country’s future relationship with Austria-Hungary. Serbia accepted many of the demands but refused to allow Austria-Hungary to be involved in its judicial process for Serbians connected to the assassination. Thus rejected, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia on July 28.

Russia (a champion of Serbia and its Slavic population) began mobilization of its troops, which prompted Germany (an ally of Austria-Hungary) to declare war on Russia. In quick succession, the system of alliances (and territorial ambitions) within Europe led Germany to also declare war on France and Britain, Britain and France to declare war on Germany, and Russia to declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Within a week, five major countries in Europe were embroiled in a war they believed would be over in a matter of months. Many other nations would eventually join the conflict—including the isolationist United States, though not officially until 1917. The bloody war would last more than four years and result in upwards of 37 million dead, missing, or wounded soldiers.

Explore Fold3′s World War I collection to discover more about this conflict and the men who fought in it.

150th Anniversary (1864–2014) This Month in the Civil War: Battle of Fort Stevens

July 1, 2014 by | 8 Comments

Civil War Collection 150th Anniversary

On July 11–12, 1864, Confederate general Jubal Early led his troops in an attempt to take Washington DC. The beleaguered Robert E. Lee had sent Early north to create havoc that would draw Federal soldiers away from Petersburg and Richmond, thus relieving some of the pressure on those cities.

Early and his men traveled to the US capital, leaving mid-June and arriving July 11. They were delayed along the way by an engagement (the Battle of Monocacy) with Lew Wallace‘s troops. Though that battle was a Union loss, the delay it created proved critical, as it allowed extra time for Federal soldiers to arrive in DC to shore up the depleted ranks defending the city.

The Battle of Fort Stevens consisted mainly of skirmishes, with no major clashes, though casualties amounted to 874. The battle is most notable, however, for President Abraham Lincoln‘s attendance as he stood atop Fort Stevens to watch the action. He was advised to leave, however, when a sharpshooter‘s bullet hit a man standing nearby. The battle ended when Early decided an attempt on the capital would fail and so withdrew his men during the night of the 12th.

Revolutionary War Pension Files

June 20, 2014 by | 17 Comments

Jonathan Libby Revolutionary War Pension JacketIf you have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War, Fold3’s Revolutionary War Pension Files can be a valuable resource for finding detailed information about them and their families. With roughly 80,000 files, this collection (via the National Archives) contains applications for veterans’ pensions, widows’ pensions, and bounty land warrants, organized by state and then by veteran surname.

In addition to details of a veteran’s military service, these types of applications are a rich source of genealogical information, such as a veteran’s age or date of birth, residence, birthplace, and even information about his wife (or widow) and children. Because veterans and their widows or heirs often submitted certain documents along with their pension or bounty land applications, within the Revolutionary War Pensions you may also find commissions, discharges, military orders, muster rolls, deeds, wills, receipts, diaries, journals, letters, marriage certificates, and newspaper clippings.

Let’s look at an example of one of these application files—that of Jonathan Libby—and see what kinds of things we can learn from it.

Jonathan Libby JournalAs we skim through the pages, we quickly find that this file contains three separate widow’s pension applications submitted by Jonathan’s widow, Abigail, over the course of about seven years. As we dig deeper into the file, we discover that although Jonathan was living in Scarborough, Maine, he enlisted in the Massachusetts Line in March 1777, with Richard Maybery (or Mayberry) as his company captain and Colonel Francis—and later Colonel Tupper— his regimental commander. While serving as a sergeant, ensign, lieutenant, and then captain, we learn from the journal included in his file that he participated in the battles of Hubbardton, Saratoga, White Marsh, Monmouth, and Stony Point before being discharged on 18 March 1780.

From the file, we also learn that Jonathan and Abigail were married on January 27, 1781 (or 1784) in Scarborough, Maine, and that Abigail’s maiden name was also Libby, being a “remote relative” to Jonathan. They had 10 children together, 3 of whom predeceased their parents. Jonathan died in Maine on March 21 (or 15), 1805, at the age of 52, and his wife never remarried. Abigail, who was 74 in August 1838, applied for a widow’s pension under the acts of 1838 and 1843 and received $269.33 per year, which was then increased under the 1844 act to $334.33.

That’s quite a bit of information from one file!

Find out what you can discover about your own Revolutionary War ancestors in Fold3′s Revolutionary War Pension Files.

Tip: Browse on Fold3

June 11, 2014 by | 55 Comments

Whether you’re browsing the records on Fold3 just to take a look around or browsing to find information on a specific person, this method of online exploration can broaden your understanding of a conflict period and give context to records about your ancestors.

The easiest way to access the browse menu is by selecting “Browse records” from the “Search” dropdown at the top of any page. Then choose a conflict period and record collection to look through. Each collection is organized differently based on the type of records it contains, but all are easy to navigate using the browse menu.

When you’ve navigated through the browse menu to its final pane, you’ll see thumbnail images of the records in that particular part of the collection. Looking at these thumbnails can give you a general overview of how much content there is in a particular record. You can also choose the information icon under a thumbnail to view the document information, like full publication title, content source, document type, a short description of the collection, and much more. Selecting any of the thumbnails will bring you to the full-size image in the Fold3 viewer.

Your browse isn’t over once you reach the viewer. From the viewer, you can open the “filmstrip” at the bottom of the page and quickly go to other images within the record. You can also use the “breadcrumbs” (the trail of links) at the top of the viewer to easily navigate to other parts of the collection without having to start your browse over from the beginning.

Another helpful feature is “Search within.” For example, if you’re looking for JEB Stuart in the 1860 Census, and you know he lived in Kansas at that time but aren’t sure which county to look in, select the 1860 census from the browse menu, then choose Kansas. Next, type “J E B Stuart” in the “Search within” box that’s located at the top of the pane and select “Go.” This will search within the Kansas 1860 Census and return a search result for JEB Stuart’s census record. From that, you’ll learn that he was living in Davis County, Kansas. (You can also begin a “search within” by selecting a breadcrumb from the top of the viewer and searching from there.)

For more information on how to browse on Fold3, view our helpful browse tutorial in the Training Center.