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WWII Draft Registration Card Collection update

December 10, 2018 by | 11 Comments

Fold3 has added four new states to our collection of U.S. WWII Draft Registration Cards! The collection now contains cards from Montana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. The cards in this collection are registration cards for the draft and do not necessarily indicate that the individual served in the military.WWII Draft Registration Card Collection

There were seven draft registration periods in the United States for World War II service. The first draft registration was held on October 16, 1940—before the United States had entered the war. Men ages 21–36 were required to register at their local draft board. The second draft registration was also held prior to the American entrance into the war, on July 1, 1941. This registration was for men who had turned 21 since the previous registration date nine months earlier.

The third (February 16, 1942) and fifth (June 30, 1942) registration periods expanded the ages required to register; the age ranges for the third were extended to 20–21 and 35–44, while the fifth extended them to ages 18–20. The sixth registration (December 10–31, 1942) was for men who had turned 18 since the fifth registration six months prior. There was also a seventh registration, known as the “Extra Registration,” from November 16 to December 31, 1943, which was for American men ages 18–44 who were living abroad. The cards from the fourth registration (April 27, 1942; for men ages 45–64) are not included in the WWII Draft Registration Cards but in Fold3’s WWII “Old Man’s Draft” Registration Cards collection.

Information on the WWII Draft Registration Cards may include the man’s name, address, telephone number, age, place of birth, country of citizenship, name and address of the person who will always know the registrant’s address, employer’s name, place of employment, and a physical description of the registrant.

Get started searching or browsing the WWII Draft Registration Cards on Fold3!

Christmas in a War Zone

December 10, 2018 by | 88 Comments

We all want to be home for the holidays, but for those serving in the military that isn’t always possible. Here’s how a few of our troops have celebrated in seasons past.

World War I: During WWI, members of the Expeditionary Force spent Christmas on the Western Front. Kirkland H. Day wrote home to say that he and the other American soldiers raised $200 dollars to provide gifts and food for families in a French village. “Some of the cases we found were too pitiful for words,” wrote Day. “One mother with 11 children – father killed in war – had absolutely nothing, not even shoes,” he said. The soldiers found the Christmas spirit through service. “Yes, it was a real Christmas, made so by doing for others. I hope your Christmas was as real as ours in France,” Day wrote. Read his entire letter here.

Sergeant Victor E. Chapman graduated from Harvard and moved to Paris to study architecture. When the war began, he immediately joined the French Foreign Legion alongside fellow American, Phil Rader. Both men hoped to become aviators. Rader was a newspaper reporter and sent home vivid descriptions of life along the Western Front.

Rader and Chapman were part of the Christmas truce of WWI. Rader wrote of peeking out of his trench on Christmas morning, “Thoughtlessly I raised my head. Other men did the same. We saw hundreds of German heads appearing. Shouts filled the air. What miracle had happened? Men laughed and cheered. There were smiles, smiles, smiles, where in days before there had been only rifle barrels. The terror of No-man’s land fell away.”

The soldiers all shook hands and posed for photographs with one another. “The hatred of war had been suddenly withdrawn and it left a vacuum in which we human beings rushed into contact with each other. The awfulness of war had not filled the corners of our hearts where love and Christmas live,” wrote Rader. The following morning a soldier hopped out of the trench, eager to continue the comradery experienced the night before. The crack of a rifle rang out and the man fell dead. The truce was over – but none there would ever forget the Christmas when for just a day, the war ended.

Vietnam: It didn’t feel like Christmas in the hot and steamy jungles of Vietnam. Troops still decorated trees like this one and enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Jewish soldiers celebrated Hanukkah, and many received cards and gifts from home. Entertainer Bob Hope made yearly visits to Vietnam to boost morale with his USO Christmas show for troops.

Major Hershel C. Gordon was serving in Can-To when he noticed a Vietnamese orphanage overflowing with children. He teamed up with friends in Lubbock, Texas to gather holiday gifts and supplies for the children. The 619th TAC Control Squadron painted the orphanage and cleaned up the grounds. Military doctors provided the children with medical care. Similarly, other GIs rendered service in orphanages across Vietnam.

How did you or your family member celebrate the holidays while serving in the military? Tell us about it and search our archives for other holiday military photos.


The Battle of Stones River – Civil War

December 1, 2018 by | 179 Comments

On December 31, 1862, the Confederate Army of Tennessee led by General Braxton Bragg and the Union Army of the Cumberland under General William Rosecrans faced off in the Battle of Stones River, also known as the Battle of Murfreesboro, in Tennessee. The bloody battle, fought December 31, 1862 – January 2, 1863, resulted in nearly 24,000 casualties – or nearly one-third of the battle’s participants. Although the battle was indecisive, it was a psychological victory for Union forces.

Earlier in December, the Union Army had suffered defeat at Fredericksburg. They desperately needed a victory to bolster morale and increase support for President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that was to take effect on January 1st.

The Confederates were also coming off a defeat at Perryville, Kentucky. General Bragg’s forces retreated and reorganized in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They hoped to drive Union forces out of Tennessee.

On December 26th, Rosecrans left Nashville to confront the Confederates 30 miles away. The weather was miserable and slowed the advance. The rain turned roads into muddy quagmires that froze when the temperatures dropped at night. Union forces reached Murfreesboro on December 30th and set up camp across from Confederate lines. As both sides bedded down for the night, the two military bands played within earshot of one another. They alternated songs and at one point both bands joined together and the soldiers sang Home Sweet Home. As night fell, everyone awaited the imminent battle.

At dawn on December 31st, the Confederate forces were the first to strike. They launched an assault on the Union right flank, intending to encircle Union troops from behind and drive them to Stones River. Meanwhile, Rosecrans’ battle plan was nearly identical. He hoped to place Union forces in between the Confederate Army and their supplies at Murfreesboro.

Initially, Confederate troops held the advantage, driving Union forces back towards the Nashville Pike. Union forces set up a defensive line and intense fighting resulted in horrendous casualties on both sides. One area became known as the Slaughter Pen because of the carnage.

Bragg’s troops launched four separate attacks in an attempt to splinter Union forces. A Union brigade led by Colonel William B. Hazen, held the line. A monument built in 1863 to honor Hazen’s Brigade is the oldest American Civil War monument still standing in its original location.

There was little fighting on January 1st. The lull gave General Rosecrans a chance to strategize and send for fresh supplies and ammunition from Nashville. Both sides cared for their wounded. On January 2nd, Bragg launched another attack on the Union left. Rosecrans counterattacked and drove the Confederates back with heavy artillery. The Confederates retreated and Union forces declared victory.

If you would like to learn more about the Battle of Stones River, or other Civil War battles, search our archives at Fold3!

Free Access to the Native American Collection*

November 1, 2018 by | 10 Comments

Fold3 Image - Rinehart Photos, Native American CollectionNovember is National Native American Heritage month. To celebrate, we’re offering free access* to our Native American collection November 1-15. Titles in this collection include:

Ratified Indian Treaties (1722-1869): This collection contains ratified treaties that occurred between tribes and the US government. Also included are presidential proclamations, correspondence, and treaty negotiation expenses.

Indian Census Rolls (1885-1940): An 1884 Act of Congress required agents or superintendents of reservations to submit annual census rolls. Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under Federal supervision are listed on these census rolls.

Dawes Packets: In 1893, President Grover Cleveland appointed the Dawes Commission to negotiate with members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes. They were promised an allotment of land if they recognized Federal law and abolished tribal governments. The Dawes records are applications from individuals in these five tribes to establish eligibility.

Dawes Enrollment Cards (1898-1914): The Dawes Commission recorded information about family groups within the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations. Also, known as “census cards,” the cards list family relationships, degree of native blood, tribal enrollment and include notations of actions taken.

Eastern Cherokee Applications (1906-1909): Applications submitted for shares of the money that was appropriated for the Eastern Cherokee Indians by Congress on June 30, 1906.

Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller (1908-1910): The US Court of Claims appointed Guion Miller to determine who was eligible for funds under the treaties between the US and the Eastern Cherokee. An estimated 90,000 applicants provided family genealogies to document tribal connections, making this collection an important source for genealogical research.

Cherokee Indian Agency, TN (1801-1835): This collection contains the records of the agent of Indian Affairs in Tennessee, including correspondence, agency letter books, fiscal records, records of the Agent for the Department of War in Tennessee, records of the Agent for Cherokee Removal, and miscellaneous records.

Rinehart Photos – Native Americans (1898): A stunning collection by commercial photographer Frank A. Rinehart of Omaha, Nebraska. He was commissioned to photograph the 1898 Indian Congress, part of the Trans-Mississippi International Exposition.

Were you able to locate your Native American ancestors in this collection? Tell us about it! Or get started searching the Native American collection here.


*Access to the records featured collections will be free until November 15, 2018 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.

World War I Armistice Signed: November 11, 1918 – 100th Anniversary

November 1, 2018 by | 97 Comments

On the chilly morning of November 11, 1918, German and Allied leaders gathered in a railway car in a forest near Compiegne, France. Germany had suffered stinging defeats in the Allied hundred days offensive, and the German economy was in shambles. After three days of negotiations led by France’s Ferdinand Foch, the time had come to admit defeat. Germany signed the Armistice agreement in Foch’s personal railroad carriage. The Armistice would bring an end to fighting in World War I. The Great War resulted in more than 37 million military casualties worldwide!

The Armistice would take effect six hours later, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, in the 11th month. The delay allowed time for the news to travel along the Western Front.

Terms of the Armistice included: Germany’s surrender of military weapons and hardware; the release of POWs; immediate evacuation of occupied lands in Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Alsace-Lorraine and other occupied territories; and Allies would occupy land in Germany creating a neutral zone along the Rhine River.

The Armistice was a short-term agreement intended to end fighting. After it was signed, Allies gathered in Paris to draft the more comprehensive Treaty of Versailles. That treaty required Germany to accept responsibility as the aggressor and for loss and damage suffered. It was signed the following year.

America and its Allies tallied the dead and wounded. The war to end all wars was over, but in the process, a generation of common young men distinguished themselves with uncommon heroism and valor. Soldiers like Pfc. Walter A. Shaminski who entered a cellar to set up a telephone but encountered 11 enemy soldiers. He single-handedly killed two and took nine prisoners. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Or cook Harry C. Ricket, who fed exhausted soldiers even though his kitchen was under intense bombardment. He collected water for cooking from a spring that everyone else refused to approach because of heavy shelling.

Alvey C. Martz engaged in heavy fighting after Germany launched its last drive to Paris before the Armistice. His unit was overrun and he found himself surrounded behind enemy lines – his only weapon a pistol. Despite the odds against him, he killed a large number of the enemy and made his way back to his regiment. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

The Armistice brought joy, relief and mourning. Pershing’s Expeditionary Force suffered 323,000 casualties and nearly 117,000 deaths. Germany’s humiliating defeat would contribute to the rise in Nazism just 20 years later. But for now, the boys were finally coming home. To learn more about WWI, search our archives on!


Ohio Soldiers Graves Registration Cards

October 22, 2018 by | 6 Comments

Fold3 Image - Edward Eades Grave Registration Card
This month we’re excited to highlight our collection of Ohio Soldiers Graves Registration Cards. This archive consists of index cards for soldiers who fought in conflicts from the War of 1812 through the 1950s. The cards contain a wealth of information and provide a jumping-off point for further research.

The soldiers in this index were not necessarily from Ohio. The Soldier’s Home in Dayton, Ohio, was one of the first three Soldier’s Homes established by Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War. It provided care for soldiers disabled through loss of limb, wounds, or disease as a result of their service in the Union in the Civil War. Consequently, soldiers from outside of Ohio are found in this index if they were residents of the Home.

In the following three examples, we’ve selected three random Graves Registration Cards and using the clues found on the cards, researched more about the lives of those soldiers.

Edward Eades was from Bowling Green, Kentucky and enlisted in 1864 as a private in Company “C” of the 115th U.S. Colored Troops division. Knowing the division Eades served in allows us to research the movements of those troops. The 115th saw action in Petersburg, Richmond, and eventually sailed to Texas for duty in the District of the Rio Grande, before being mustered out.

By cross-referencing his Civil War Pension Index card we learn that Eades had obtained the rank of 1st Sergeant when he was discharged in 1866. Eades was living in the Soldier’s Home when he died at age 77-years-old from Nephritis (chronic kidney inflammation). The Graves Registration Card also lists his next of kin, nephew Edward Campbell from Greenville, Kentucky. This information opens the doors for further research into Kentucky archives.

A second example is that of Carl Babcock. He served in France in WWI with the 101st Regiment, 26th Division. His WWI Draft Registration Card lists his address in 1917; his marital status (single); and his physical characteristics. He was from Napoleon, Ohio, and a search of the archives at reveal that he was serving as the Fire Chief when he died. The Graves Registration Card records the location of the cemetery he was buried in. We searched to find his page. It lists his parents, spouse, and siblings.

A final example is that of Thomas V. Rabbitt. Rabbitt fought in the Spanish-American War. He was from Massachusetts and died in the Soldier’s Home in 1924 at 54-years-old of acute alcohol poisoning. We learn from his Grave Registration Card that he was from Milford, Massachusetts. A search on Ancestry reveals his birth record that includes the names of his parents; his marriage record and his 1900 census record that lists his occupation as a quarryman. Further research of records related to the 6th Massachusetts Infantry Company “C” revealed that about two weeks after enlisting, Rabbitt joined with his infantry where they fought during the bloodiest battle of the war in the charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba.

Do you have an ancestor included in the Ohio Soldiers Graves Registration Cards? Search their records on Fold3!

Loyalists During the Revolutionary War

October 10, 2018 by | 90 Comments

At the time of the American Revolution, Great Britain was the most powerful country on the earth. When Patriots decided to stand up to British rule, it became necessary for colonists to choose sides. For some, the decision was not easy. As many as one-third chose to align with the crown. They were known as “Loyalists” or “Tories.”

Fold3 Image - Hutchinson house, Boston
Loyalists had a variety of reasons for supporting Great Britain. Some were successful merchants who relied on a working relationship; others were pacifists who wanted to avoid war; and some served in prominent roles appointed by the British government.

One prominent Loyalist was Thomas Hutchinson who served as the Governor of Massachusetts. Hutchinson was born in Boston and was an avid collector of historical materials related to early Massachusetts colonial history. In 1765, after the Stamp Act, angry colonists burst into his Boston house, ransacked it and destroyed the contents. Hutchinson and his family barely escaped. Most of the historical documents were destroyed. Hutchinson was eventually replaced as Governor and left the colonies for London, where he later died.

Patriot or Loyalist? The question created division within communities. In a letter to John Hancock, George Washington expressed concerns about Loyalists who are “in Arms against us.” Yet Washington wanted to leave the door open for those who were willing to join the revolution. “I should suppose, that it would be expedient and founded in sound policy, to give every suitable assurance to induce them to come. Such an event would be attended with Salutary effects – would weaken the enemy – distress them greatly and would probably have a most happy influence in preventing Others from joining their Arms,” Washington wrote.

In order to alleviate the burden on British troops, British officials developed a plan to enlist more loyalists to fight. Lt. General Charles Cornwallis rallied Loyalists in southern colonies. They initially had success at the Battle of Camden in South Carolina, but as they marched north, many Loyalists feared retribution and inadequate protection and chose to stay out of the fray.

Cornwallis issued a proclamation urging Loyalists to take up arms. “It is his Majesty’s most gracious wish to rescue his faithful and loyal subjects from the cruel tyranny under which they have groaned for several years,” Cornwallis wrote. “I invite all such loyal & faithful subjects to repair without loss of time with their arms and ten days Provisions to the Royal headquarters now erected at Hillsborough, where they will meet with the most friendly reception.” His proclamation did not elicit the volunteers he needed. Cornwallis was eventually defeated at Yorktown and the military aspect of the American Revolution ended. After the revolution, some Loyalists chose to remain in the colonies and were offered protection without fear of retribution under the Paris Peace Treaty.

If you would like to learn more about the role of Loyalists in the American Revolution, search our Revolutionary War collection on!