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Find: Halloween UFO Sightings from Project Blue Book

October 12, 2017 by | 9 Comments

Fold3 Image - 11883955
On Halloween night, 1957, around 8:30 p.m., a man in Massapequa Park, New York, saw an extremely bright object in the sky traveling very fast. A former pilot and FBI agent, he didn’t think it could be a meteor because the object moved on a “flat trajectory, which appeared to parallel the horizon throughout its sweep.” When the man reported this sighting to the Air Force, he knew nothing might come of it, but, as he stated, he wanted to “toss it in now, for what it may be worth, on the off-chance that it might just happen to tie in with someone else’s observation.” Upon analysis, the Air Force deemed the UFO to in fact have been a meteor.

Between 1952 and 1969, the U.S. Air Force conducted a study into UFO sightings, known as Project Blue Book. This followed two other UFO-related government projects, the first of which began in 1947. The goals of Project Blue Book were to scientifically analyze UFO data and to determine if UFOs were a national security threat.

During the life of the project, more than 12,000 reported UFO sightings were collected and analyzed, with most of the “UFOs” being explained away as known aircraft or naturally occurring phenomenon, such as the meteor in Massapequa Park. The project was ended in 1969, when it was concluded that there was nothing anomalous or dangerous about the reported UFOs and that there was no evidence that any of the UFOs were in fact extraterrestrial.

Now, nearly 50 years later, you can read the Project Blue Book UFO Investigations on Fold3. Was the Massapequa Park sighting really a meteor, or was that explanation just a government cover up? Decide for yourself!

With Halloween coming up, we’ve collected a few of Project Blue Book’s best UFO sightings that occurred on Halloween. Take a look below!

  • Williston, Florida, 1955: A policeman spots multiple round objects in loose formation in the night sky, making no noise but emitting a light so bright it hurt his eyes. Multiple other witnesses made similar reports. The official explanation? An aircraft refueling operation.
  • South Charleston, Ohio, 1964: A freelance photographer submits a photo of multiple UFOs near a tree. He claims that “the strange objects on the film [were] not visible to my eyes [and] no sounds were heard at the time.” The official explanation? The mostly likely cause of the UFOs in the photo was “a lightbulb and reflector taken at multiple exposures.”
  • West Hyattsville, Maryland, 1966: A 15-year-old boy submits a Polaroid photo of “grayish solid object with 2 red lights and 2 blue lights” in the night sky. He declares, “This is no prank!” The official explanation? There was considered to be insufficient data for evaluation and the photo was deemed of insufficient clarity.
  • Logansville, Ohio, 1953: A farmer sees “a round saucer-like object with a glow like a million electric lightbulbs travel with terrific speed from east to west, then veer south and disappear.” The official explanation? A meteor, with the turn regarded as an illusion.

Get started searching or browsing the Project Blue Book UFO Investigations on Fold3. You can even try searching for your city or state to find out if any UFOs were spotted in your area. Access to the Project Blue Book UFO Investigations is free with registration.

Death of Robert E. Lee: October 12, 1870

October 1, 2017 by | Comments Off on Death of Robert E. Lee: October 12, 1870

On October 12, 1870, former Confederate general Robert E. Lee died at his home in Lexington, Virginia, at age 63, after suffering a stroke two weeks prior.

Fold3 Image - Map of Appomattox Court HouseFollowing his surrender to Union general Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in April 1865, Lee—who had been commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and then General in Chief of all Confederate armies—traveled to Richmond, Virginia, where his family was living. Now jobless and without an income, Lee briefly considered turning to farming but instead accepted the presidency of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia—a position he would hold until his death five years later.

Washington College (today’s Washington and Lee University)—at the time a private white, all-male school—had been damaged during the war and had fewer than 50 students when Lee became its president in the fall of 1865. During Lee’s tenure, the student body grew to several hundred students, and Lee favored adding modern, practical courses to the curriculum in addition to the traditional courses in the classics.

In the years following the Civil War, Lee largely stayed out of the public eye and avoided postwar politics. Despite being indicted, Lee was never tried for treason, due mainly to the intercession of Ulysses S. Grant on his behalf. However, although he submitted the necessary documents, Lee was never returned to U.S. citizenship during his lifetime; instead, Congress would posthumously restore his citizenship in 1975.

Fold3 Image - Page 1 (of 67) of Robert E. Lee's Civil War service recordIn his final years, Lee’s health declined due to cardiovascular disease, but he remained active with the college. In the early spring of 1870, the college faculty and Lee’s doctors recommended he travel further south for his health. This trip—in which he visited Southern states such as North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida—became what many historians call Lee’s “farewell tour.”

Although his health was poor, Lee remained president of Washington College when it resumed classes in the fall of 1870. However, on September 28, following a church meeting, Lee suffered what was most likely a stroke after returning home that evening. Lee remained largely incapacitated for two weeks following his stroke and developed pneumonia, finally passing away on the morning of October 12 at the age of 63. He was interred at the Washington College chapel.

If you’re interested in learning more about Robert E. Lee, you can find more documents and images relating to his life and career on Fold3.

Ireland, Royal Hospital Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Documents

September 15, 2017 by | 5 Comments

Fold3 Image - Example of an earlier Pension Admissions Book (1700s)
If you have ancestors from Ireland who received an army pension between 1724 and 1924, come explore Fold3’s collection of Royal Hospital Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Documents!

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham, located in Dublin, Ireland, was founded in 1679 and handled the pensions of Irish Regiments (as well as some English, Scottish, and Welsh units, though most pensions for non-Irish regiments were handled by the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London). The Royal Hospital Kilmainham was originally built as a home for retired soldiers, and as such, some of the men who qualified for pensions were “in-pensioners,” which meant they surrendered their pensions and lived at the Royal Hospital; however, many more were “out-pensioners,” meaning they received their pensions while living elsewhere.

The hospital dealt with pensions for regiments in the Irish Army Establishment until 1800, when the British and Irish Army Establishments were combined. In 1822, the out-pensions administered by Kilmainham were shifted over to the Royal Hospital Chelsea; however, soldiers discharged in Ireland were still examined at Kilmainham before their information was passed along to Chelsea until the 1860s, and in-pensioners continued to live at Kilmainham until 1929.

Veterans were eligible to receive a pension if they had a disabling injury and had either been invalided home or completed 12 years of service. Officers’ pensions were not typically handled by the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, as pensions were usually awarded to officers through the “half-pay” system.

On Fold3, this collection is actually in two parts: the Pension Admissions and the Pensioners’ Discharge Documents. The records fall between 1724 and 1924. The Pension Admissions are registers of in- and out- pensioners of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The pensioners in these books are typically ordered by the date the veteran was examined for pension. Information found in these registers can include name, regiment, rank, length of service, illness or disability, birthplace, occupation, physical description, and more. Admissions registers for earlier years contain less information than those for later years. The Pension Admissions section also contains two registers of in-pensioners (covering 1839 until 1922), as well as a register of pensioners living abroad (1819-1822).

The Pensioners’ Discharge Documents contain pensioners’ certificates of service. These documents may contain service history information (corps, rank, years of service), as well as the man’s physical description, trade, birthplace, medical condition, and more.

On Fold3, the records in this title are grouped first into Admissions and Discharge documents as mentioned above. The Pension Admission Books are then typically arranged by date. The Discharge documents are also roughly arranged by date; however, they are more specifically arranged by the veteran’s discharge number, an index to which can be found in Pieces 1–12 of the Pension Admissions. This all being the case, knowing the approximate date your ancestor was awarded his pension (or at least the rough dates when he was drawing his pension) will make it easier to find him in this collection, as you will need to browse rather than use the search tool.

Start browsing the Ireland, Royal Hospital Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Documents on Fold3!

Learn More about the Vietnam War on Fold3

September 1, 2017 by | 52 Comments

On September 17, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s highly anticipated 10-part documentary The Vietnam War will begin airing. In the meantime, brush up on your knowledge of the conflict on Fold3 with the more than 21 million records in our Vietnam War collection.

There are currently 17 titles in our Vietnam Collection, and each provides a unique perspective on the decades-long conflict. If you’re not sure where to start, below we’ve spotlighted 5 titles that will be sure to interest you:

Photos: Fold3 has 4 Vietnam photo collections—Vietnam Marine Corps (B/W), Vietnam War Marine Corps, Vietnam War Army, and Vietnam War Navy. Many of the thousands of photos in these titles are in color, and they capture nearly every subject imaginable, from service members, to aircraft, to local Vietnamese, to military offensives, and beyond.

Vietnam Service Awards: This title includes candidates for Meritorious Unit Commendations, Navy Unit Commendations, Presidential Unit Citations, Presidential Unit Commendations, Valorous Unit Awards, and Vietnam Unit Awards. Not only do the records in this title contain explanations and the history of each recommendation, but they also describe the missions, list the soldiers, and outline the process of approving or disapproving the award.

Medal of Honor Recipients: Citations for Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients are included in this title. The citations tell you when and where the Medal of Honor action occurred and typically give a fairly extensive description of the action and why it was considered deserving of a Medal of Honor. The Vietnam War medal citations begin on page 799 of the first volume (1863-1978). There are also a few Vietnam-era citations in the second volume (1979-2013), beginning on page 28.

The Pentagon Papers: This formerly top-secret report was originally leaked to the New York Times in 1971 and revealed damaging insights into U.S. policy in Vietnam, creating a whirlwind of controversy. In 2011, the full 7,000-page report was declassified and released to the public.

Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The interactive memorial on Fold3 was made of 6,301 photographs of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC that were stitched together by computer into a single, high-quality image. The Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial allows you to either search for a name or look at a high-resolution image of the wall—as if you were really in Washington DC. Every name on Fold3’s Vietnam Wall is connected to an Honor Wall page for the veteran that you can view or edit.

Search or browse these Vietnam War titles and more on Fold3!

US Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards

August 21, 2017 by | 18 Comments

Fold3 Image - Example of Navy Invalid card
Do you have an ancestor who received a U.S Army or Navy pension between 1907 and 1933? Check out Fold3’s collection of US Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards!

These payment cards document pension payments made to disabled veterans of the regular Army or Navy or their widows between 1907 and 1933. Prior to 1907, pension payments were recorded in pension agency payment books, but in 1907, the pension bureau switched to a card system and transferred all active pensioners to this new system. The system changed again in 1923, when they switched from quarterly to monthly payments. Pension payments made under this new system were recorded on a new card.

There are four classes of cards: those for Army invalids, Army widows, Navy invalids, and Navy widows. The four types of card are very similar. Although the information actually recorded on each card varies, the cards contain the following fields:

  • name of veteran
  • certificate number
  • unit or arm of service
  • disability for which pensioned
  • law or laws under which pensioned
  • class of pension or certificate
  • rate of pension
  • effective date of pension
  • date of the certificate
  • any fees paid
  • name of the pension agency or group transferred from (if applicable)
  • date of death
  • date the Bureau was notified
  • former roll number
  • home

On the widows’ cards, the woman’s name replaces the veteran’s, and the veteran’s name replaces the disability information. There is also a space for payments made to minors. Since payments were made to widows as well as to the veterans themselves, your military ancestor might have a pension payment card even if he died before 1907.

On Fold3, the cards are organized alphabetically by the surname and then given name of the veteran, even for the widows’ cards. This will save you time, as it eliminates the hassle of looking up a veteran’s pension under the name of his widow.

Keep in mind that there might be more than one person with the same name, so double check that it really is your ancestor. If you can’t find the person you’re looking for in the records, try looking under any nicknames or aliases your ancestor may have used and also check alternative spellings.

Get started searching or browsing for your ancestors in Fold3’s US Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards today!

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.