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World War II Kissing Couples

August 15, 2012 by | Comments Off

Times Square banner made of over 3000 tiles of 836 World War II couples.

Sam, a few decades my senior, was a personal friend. Sam was (and is) admired by hundreds and hundreds of people who knew him through his work in journalism at Oregon State University, his neighbors within the city of Corvallis, Oregon, and among those who were in his church community.

In the years I knew Sam he walked very slowly and with a painful limp, and it was my privilege for a period of time to pick him up each Sunday morning, drive him to church, and then slowly walk in with him so he made it safely to his pew. Sam was blind for the last several years of his life, but throughout that time he saw life more brightly and clearly than most I know.

Doris is Sam’s widow. Doris, the quintessentially cute grandmother and great-grandmother (I see her blushing as she reads that), is deeply into her eighties yet swims several miles each week, reads her Church magazine in French, practices the organ (when absolutely no one is around to hear her), and plays tennis on her Wii.

Sam served in the Army during World War II. He and Doris met before the war, but were married during one of Sam’s leaves. After their marriage, they travelled by train to Boston where Sam left for England and ultimately France, arriving there seventeen days after D-Day.

Sam and Doris are like so many we know. One or both of them served in World War II, either on the war front or the home front, and were married just before, during, or shortly after the war. They were young, impossibly courageous, and hopelessly in love. To quote Doris, “We thought we could lick the world together.”

August 14, was V-J Day. The Spirit of ’45 (, an organization dedicated to honoring the spirit of those who worked and fought to win World War II, along with Hewlett-Packard,, and our own Fold3, put together an eight-foot by twelve-foot banner honoring all those couples who sacrificed so much.

Couples like Sam and Doris.

Take a look at the information about the banner on (Times Square Kiss) and then click the link to view the full image and marvel at these young couples.

Confidential Correspondence of the Navy, 1919-1927

August 8, 2012 by | Comments Off

Documents classified as “secret and confidential” provoke an all-too-human urge to peek at something forbidden. That urge becomes irresistible when those documents are military records. Fold3’s newest title, Confidential Correspondence of the Navy, 1919-1927, lets you sneak back in time to review formerly classified communications of the U.S. Navy during World War I, the immediate postwar years, and the first years after the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

The records document U.S. naval involvement with foreign countries, application of technology to naval matters, establishment of overseas bases, appropriations, tactical doctrine, naval strategy, peacetime naval maneuvers, and wartime naval operations.

A few of the many highlights:

Files are organized by master numbers assigned to a variety of subjects and locations. Major sets of files titled Hawaiian Islands, German Peace Treaty, Radio, War Plans, and others are explained further in the Fold3 description. Explore these historically enlightening, formerly classified documents within the Confidential Correspondence of the Navy, 1919-1927 on Fold3.

The New Search

July 27, 2012 by | 7 Comments

Our last update to search was over four years ago. Since then we have had a lot of feedback from you and learned how we could improve. Today we introduce a new search experience focused on improving search quality and speed to help you find your ancestors. We knew that changing the interface could disrupt the daily work flow of many, but we believe these changes will serve you better in the long run.
A few of our favorite improvements include:

  • We now roll-up large files so you only see them once in the results list
  • A preview pane lets you easily view and pan a document without leaving your search results
  • Narrowing your searches by categories is easier now. For instance, you can choose to show only the Brady Civil War Photos, the “Widows” Pensions, and the Navy Widows’ Certificates within the Civil War records category
  • A date range tool lets you narrow your results quickly
  • Advanced options like the new ‘sounds like’ (similar to soundex) option on name searches lets you more easily find an individual whose name was spelled differently on specific documents

Get started with these nine quick tips on using the new search and let us know what you think.

A Keyword Search yields more results since not all records

Searching is an art: Try different approaches to your search for maximum benefit.

The Mini-viewer is a quick way to scan several documents. The Full Viewer is still there for a better look at an individual document.

Watch this video for even more.

The Northwest Ordinance

July 9, 2012 by | 4 Comments

The famous phrase “Go West, young man,” was first published in an 1851 editorial and later popularized by Horace Greeley to encourage westward expansion. Yet the words never would have been expressed so successfully without an important and farsighted directive issued six decades earlier by the Confederation Congress: The Northwest Ordinance.

In “An Ordinance for the government of the Territory of the United States, North-west of the river Ohio,” dated July 13, 1787, the founding fathers established a model for the nation’s future growth. The territory referred to was bounded by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, with the Great Lakes as the northern border. It comprised what we now know as the states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, as well as part of Minnesota. As the United States stretched farther westward, the Northwest Ordinance ultimately laid the groundwork for the Missouri Compromise, the Homestead Act, and for establishing the rights of citizens in states and territories west of the Mississippi. A copy of the original ordinance is in the Papers of the Continental Congress.

The articles within the ordinance established religious freedom, legal and educational rights, territorial boundaries, requirements of statehood, and prohibitions on slavery. While the Northwest Ordinance promoted the welfare of all Americans, some sections were interpreted differently over time, most notably a clause in Article 3 regarding Native Americans which states “The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress…”

The Northwest Ordinance may be one of the most critical legislative acts passed by the Confederation Congress (successor to the Continental Congress). It, and many more official records and legislation from the formative years of the fledgling United States of America, can be found within the Papers of the Continental Congress and Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress on Fold3.

An update to the War of 1812 Pension Project

June 25, 2012 by | Comments Off

FGS announces a $135,000 donation to the War of 1812 Project as a gift from the estate of Jon Stedman in memory of his mother, Ardath Stedman. the War of 1812 Project with FGSWhat will this do for the project? The donation will be used to continue the preservation and digitizing of these records. Currently the project has made available almost 250,000 pages (just over 3% of the total) and with this donation the rate of digitization will increase and you will see a larger number of new pension records added each month. The project makes the records free for anyone to search and view the actual scanned documents. You can read more about the project and how you can donate to this effort on the FGS blog.

War of 1812

June 13, 2012 by | 1 Comment

On June 18, 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain officially launching the War of 1812. In the 200 years since, it has become a forgotten war, perhaps best remembered by school children as when The Star-Spangled Banner was written. Yet, the War of 1812 was strategically important to the future of American diplomacy, a reinforced independence from Great Britain, and the country’s westward expansion.

Several events provoked President James Madison to request action from Congress to enter a war with one of the world’s most powerful nations, less than thirty years after the Revolutionary War ended. Uppermost was the unlawful impressment of American sailors into a British Navy eager to replenish its ranks during the lengthy Napoleonic Wars. Great Britain also restricted America’s right, as a neutral country, to trade with France.

On the home front, Americans were embracing the concept of “Manifest Destiny.” Migrations into the Northwest Territory provoked confrontations with Native American tribes. The British supported the rights of the Indians to maintain and defend their territories, but Americans were eager to push them westward and claim their land. The war is best remembered by Canada, a friend to both Indians and Great Britain, and on whose border many battles took place.

Fold3 observes the War of 1812 bicentennial with rich and revealing historical documents within the War of 1812 Collection. They include the War of 1812 Prize Cases from New York’s Southern District Court, Letters Received by the Adjutant General, and War of 1812 Service Records for Lake Erie and Mississippi, and, perhaps most revealing, the War of 1812 Pension Files. The pension files are digitized in color at the National Archives in Washington, DC, with funding provided by the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Preserve the Pensions! Project. They are brought to Fold3 visitors at no charge.

In commemoration of this highly important, yet overlooked event in U.S. history, we’ve made our War of 1812 Collection free for the month of June. Come explore the many stories of our fledgling nation’s second revolution.