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National Aviation Day

August 11, 2017 by | 9 Comments

Fold3 Image - The last North American B-25 to come off the assembly line at the plant in Inglewood, California; employees covered the plane with their names
National Aviation Day falls on August 19, Orville Wright’s birthday. It was established in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to encourage interest in aviation in the United States. If you’re fascinated by aviation, particularly military aviation, Fold3 is a goldmine of images and documents that will expand your knowledge of the history of flight.

Check out the aviation-related images below from Fold3’s World War II and Vietnam photo collections, which you can access for free with registration. And if they spark your curiosity, try searching Fold3 for more photos like these. (Tip: try using search terms like “plane,” “airplane,” “pilot,” “flight,” and so on.)

World War II


Have you found any interesting aviation-related images or documents on Fold3? Share them with us! Or get started searching or browsing Fold3 for aviation topics.

Battle of Long Island: August 27, 1776

August 1, 2017 by | 55 Comments

Fold3 Image - American morale low after loss at Battle of Long Island
On August 27, 1776, the British army defeated Patriot troops at the Battle of Long Island, New York. Though the Americans were soundly defeated, they were able to safely evacuate their troops and avoid what would have been the probable destruction of a large part of the Continental Army.

After the British were pushed out of Boston in March 1776, they next set their sights on capturing New York City and the vital Hudson River. During that summer, 32,000 British and Hessian troops under the command of General William Howe arrived on Staten Island, where they began preparing for their attack on Long Island. General George Washington, unsure where exactly the British planned to attack, split his approximately 20,000 troops between Manhattan Island and Long Island, even though he already had fewer troops than Howe.

15,000 British troops landed on the southwest shore of Long Island on August 22, with a few thousand additional Hessian troops arriving later. A portion of the roughly seven thousand American troops on the island were strung out along six miles of a ridge, with Americans protecting most of the passes through that ridge. However, one of the passes (Jamaica Pass on the American left) was left virtually undefended. The British decided on a diversionary tactic in which part of their army would harass the American front, while the majority of the British troops would make their way through Jamaica Pass to attack the American left flank.

So on the night of the 26th, British troops made their way through Jamaica Pass, and on the morning of the 27th the British plan was successfully carried out. When attacked from both front and flank, the American defenses crumbled. A daring, if ill-fated, counterattack by Maryland troops helped give the surviving Patriots time to retreat to their fortifications at Brooklyn Heights.

Fold3 Image - Account of the American army's escape across the East River
However, rather than launching a direct assault against the Americans’ position at Brooklyn Heights, General Howe—believing the Americans were trapped between the British and the East River—decided instead to lay siege on their position. This reprieve gave Washington the chance to evacuate his troops, which he did in secret on the night of the 29th under the cover of rain and fog. Using small boats, the Americans were able to withdraw all of their troops across the East River to Manhattan without the British noticing.

The British would later pursue the Americans and eventually capture New York, but the Continental Army’s escape from Long Island would go down as an impressive feat that saved the Patriot army from disaster.

Do you have ancestors who fought at Long Island? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the battle on Fold3.

New Zealand Expeditionary Force Records

July 19, 2017 by | 3 Comments

Fold3 Image - First page (out of 5) of service record abstract for Martin Anderson
Do you have any relatives who served as officers in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) during World War I? Learn more about them in Fold3’s New Zealand Expeditionary Force Records.

This title is a facsimile reprint of Lt. Colonel John Studholme’s book New Zealand Expeditionary Force Record of Personal Service During the War, published in 1928. Though the book is not technically an official New Zealand government publication, it is based on official records and endorsed by the New Zealand Defence Department, making it official in all but name.

The book mainly covers the careers of officers in the NZEF during World War I and includes information like name, regiment, rank, and appointment or discharge date. It also documents the honors and decorations awarded to NZEF personnel. In addition to officers of the NZEF, the book contains information on nurses, first-class warrant officers, and officers and others who served in a subsidiary capacity to the NZEF. Other topics covered include:

  • Composition of the NZEF
  • Units and formation of NZEF
  • Strength of NZEF
  • Regulations of NZEF
  • Embarkations of NZEF
  • Demobilization embarkations of NZEF
  • New Zealand’s war effort (as regards personnel)
  • Operations in which NZEF took part
  • Casualties
  • Prisoners of War

The NZEF was created in August 1914 and was part of the British forces. Nearly 99,000 people served in New Zealand units overseas during the war, with an additional 7,000 serving within New Zealand; more than 2,000 served in Maori units. The majority of people who served in the NZEF were volunteers, and the NZEF was not limited to those born in New Zealand; any British subject could join. By the end of the war, about 18,000 people in the NZEF had died, including those who were killed in the Gallipoli campaign, Somme offensive, Messines offensive, and Passchendaele offensive

Do you have any relatives who served with the NZEF? Tell us about them! Or get started searching or browsing Fold3’s New Zealand Expeditionary Force Records.

The Battle of Gettysburg Ends: July 3, 1863

July 1, 2017 by | 341 Comments

Fold3 Image - Map of the battlefield of Gettysburg. [July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 1863]
On July 3, 1863, the three-day Battle of Gettysburg came to a close, leaving behind an estimated 51,000 total casualties—the highest number of any battle in the Civil War

Following a series of military successes in Virginia, Confederate general Robert E. Lee took his troops north in June 1863 into south-central Pennsylvania. Lee was unaware until late June that the Union’s Army of the Potomac, under General George G. Meade, had followed his army north, as Lee’s cavalry, under JEB Stuart, was separated from the main body of the army and was thus unable to provide intel on the enemy’s movements.

On July 1, elements of Lee’s army came up against Union cavalry by chance outside the town of Gettysburg and fighting broke out. Both sides received reinforcements, and the Confederates were eventually able to push back the Federals to south of Gettysburg. During the evening and the following morning, both sides gathered the rest of their armies, for a total of 83,000 Union troops and 75,000 Confederate.

At the commencement of fighting the following afternoon, July 2, the Union army was arranged like a fishhook, with the Confederates surrounding them to the north and west in roughly the same shape. The 2nd saw bloody fighting on the Union left and center, but despite high casualties, the Union was generally able to repulse the Confederates. Fighting also occurred on the Union right later that evening and continued on after dark in a rare night battle.

On the 3rd, the Confederates once again launched an attack on the Union right, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Then, following a massive artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center in what is commonly known as Pickett’s Charge. During this attack, approximately 12,000 Confederate troops crossed nearly a mile of open ground to attack Union positions but were decimated by Union fire. The Confederates who made it to the enemy lines managed to briefly break through, but they were eventually repulsed. Also on this day, the Confederate cavalry—which had arrived on the afternoon of the 2nd—was put into action off the Union right flank, but with little result.

On the 4th, Lee waited for Meade’s counterattack on his position, but it never came, so Lee’s army withdrew back over the Potomac. Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the war, with 23,000 Union casualties and 28,000 Confederate. It is often considered the turning point in the war and commonly referred to as the “high tide” of the Confederacy.

Do you have ancestors who fought at Gettysburg? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the battle on Fold3.

Access Revolutionary War Records for Free*

July 1, 2017 by | 4 Comments

Revolutionary War Signing for Payment Vouchers
Do you have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War? Now is the perfect time to learn more about them, as Fold3 is giving free access* to our Revolutionary War Collection July 1–15.

There are 20+ titles in our Revolutionary War Collection. Popular ones include:

Revolutionary War Pensions
The records in this collection include entire pension files for soldiers and sailors who served in the Revolutionary War. Unlike selected records, which were typically chosen subjectively for genealogical content, these records reveal more details about each veteran’s history and service, as well as more information about his family, state of health, and life after the war. Every name mentioned in the pensions has been indexed, not just the soldier’s name, which makes finding people even easier.

Revolutionary War Service Records
These are compiled service records for the regular soldiers of the Continental Army, and for the militia, volunteers, and others who served with them. The records are arranged under the designation “Continental Troops” or a state name, then by organization, and then alphabetically by a soldier’s surname. Records consist of card abstracts of entries relating to each soldier from original records. Also included are regimental lists including muster rolls, pay lists, and caption cards.

Revolutionary War Rolls
The primary function of the many Revolutionary War rolls maintained by the American Army was to provide basic information about the identities, numbers, condition, equipage, and pay status of the men and units that comprised the Army in order to facilitate administrative control. Browse these rolls by state and name of organization (regiment, battalion, guard, company, etc.). Find names of soldiers with the help of annotations supplied by other Fold3 users and feel free to add your own. Thousands of records from 138 rolls of microfilm provide names and details about the men who fought for independence.

Final Payment Vouchers Index for Military Pensions, 1818–1864
Pension payment records are not typically found in pension application files. These cards were created as an index for the final payments made to either the veteran or his widow. They provide additional details on where a family may have moved in the early- to mid-19th century, death dates of veterans, widows, or dependent children, and sometimes the maiden name of a widow.

Get started searching or browsing the Revolutionary War Collection on Fold3!.

*Access to the records in the featured collections will be free until July 15, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. MT. Free access requires registration for a free Fold3 account. After the free access period ends, you will only be able to view the records in the featured collections using a paid Fold3 membership.

Naval Officers Service Records

June 22, 2017 by | 13 Comments

Fold3 Image - First page (out of 5) of service record abstract for Martin Anderson
Do you have ancestors who served as officers in the U.S. Navy between 1829 and 1924? Come explore Fold3’s collection of Naval Officers Service Records!

This collection is composed of abstracts of individual officers’ naval service, covering the dates February 1829 to July 1924. Officers’ records are included in this collection if their service in the Navy (from earliest commission to end of service) roughly falls between these dates

There are 38 volumes, arranged by time period. Within each volume, organization is chronological by date of appointment. There is also an index, which lists the officers in alphabetical order by last name and provides the volume and page number on which that individual’s information can be found.

Many officers’ service record abstracts span several pages, though the number of pages often depends on the length of their service. Their abstract information is recorded on a form entitled “Record of Officers, U.S. Navy.” This form contains columns for date of service, name of officer, time devoted to sea service or unemployed, and remarks, though not all forms have these columns filled out. However, the forms do reliably list a date and a description for milestones and events in an officer’s career, including appointments, orders, promotions, leave, retirement, and more. It also includes the individual’s birth and death dates, if known.

These service record abstracts can provide a wealth of information about the officers listed. An example of a typical form is that of Martin Augustus Anderson, who served from his appointment to cadet engineer in 1877 until he was relieved from active duty in 1919 at the age of 62. His service record abstract is 5 pages long and lists the dates and details for the ships he served on, his other assignments, his promotions, the leave he took, and more. We also learn from the abstract that he died in 1926 in Washington DC from a cerebral hemorrhage. In the remarks section of the form, his next of kin and address are listed.

Do you have any ancestors who appear in the Naval Officers Service Records? Tell us about them! Or get started searching or browsing the collection on Fold3.

Beyond D-Day

June 8, 2017 by | 41 Comments

When people hear the date June 1944, they often think first of D-Day, which occurred June 6, 1944. But D-Day and the ensuing Battle of Normandy weren’t the only things occurring in World War II during June 1944. Below are a few major events of the war that also occurred that month:

Fold3 Image - Letter from Lt. General Clark about the conduct of the 5th Army while in Rome
June 4: U.S. Army Enters Rome
As the U.S. Army neared Rome after more than 4 months of fighting their way from the landing beaches at Anzio, the Germans positioned in Rome abandoned the city, allowing the Americans to take it without a fight. Rome was the first of the Axis capitals to fall to the Allies.

LEARN MORE: Read a letter from Lt. General Clark about the conduct of the 5th Army while in Rome

Fold3 Image - Infantry reinforcements wading ashore during landing operations on Saipan, 20 June 1944
June 15: U.S. Landings on Saipan
On June 15, U.S. troops began landing at Saipan in the Mariana Islands, which the Americans hoped to use as a base for bomber attacks on the Japanese home islands. However, the 30,000 Japanese troops on the island fought fiercely, and progress was slow and casualties high for the Americans. Finally, in early July, the Japanese put up their final resistance in the largest banzai charge (suicide attack) of the war. By time the Americans had finally captured Saipan, nearly all Japanese troops on the island had been killed or committed suicide. After the American victory, hundreds of Japanese civilians on the island likewise committed suicide.

LEARN MORE: View a photo of infantry reinforcements wading ashore during landing operations on Saipan, 20 June 1944

Fold3 Image - First page of the CINCPAC report on the Battle of the Philippine Sea
June 19–20: Battle of the Philippine Sea
The Battle of the Philippine Sea, fought June 19–20, was the largest carrier battle of the war and a major victory for the U.S. With the American invasion of Saipan creating a direct threat to the Japanese home islands, Japan decided to force the American fleet into a decisive naval battle to prevent American control of the Marianas. However, over the two day battle, the Japanese lost more than 400 carrier aircraft, in addition to three carriers, essentially ending Japan’s ability to carry out any more major carrier actions for the remainder of the war.

LEARN MORE: Read the CINCPAC (Pacific Fleet) report on the Battle of the Philippine Sea

To learn more about World War II, explore the 125 million+ records in Fold3’s World War II collection.