World War II records

19 Mar 2016

Why We Do Genealogy

How many times have you been asked why we do genealogy?
Back when I was a working archivist-librarian, the bosses who held the pursestrings would ask me why we should even bother with all that old stuff. After all, it was so expensive to take care of and nobody really cared about those dusty old archives. My immediate, though internal, answer was always, “How can you not care about history?”

None of my grad school classes in history or library science prepared me to justify archival preservation, research, or outreach, especially to bosses who had never done primary-source research themselves. Eventually I figured out ways (with more or less success) to make preservation and access to the historical records in my care palatable to administrators who only had eyes on the bottom line.

A few years ago, I posted about a visit to the Tenement Museum, one of the best historical museums anywhere.

I have eight great-grandparents […]

7 Dec 2015

From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa

Letters From the Pacific, From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa

This day doesn’t get much play anymore, possibly because the Pearl Harbor Survivors are all in their 90s.

My husband and I considered it a privilege in 2011 to commemorate the 70th anniversary from Ford Island in Pearl Harbor and attend the USS Utah interment ceremony.

This year, to commemorate the day, the New York Times has published a great article by Diantha Parker entitled, “Letters From the Pacific, From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa” about the Mossman collection of letters. It is well worth the time of any genealogist with WWII family.

In 2001, a box of old World War II letters surfaced from a neglected box in storage. What laid inside were the complete letters documenting the life of

Harold Moss, a soldier in the American Army during WWII. His journey starts in the States during basic training and leads him throughout the Pacific, all the way to Okinawa. Harold was fortunate to make it back […]

6 Jul 2014

Michigan World War II Veterans Database

A new database of Michigan World War II veterans is available, and you can contribute information on your Michigan World War II veterans to it. MLive, a Michigan online newspaper, is searching for an estimated 39,000 World War II veterans living in Michigan at the present time. MLive is building a searchable database of their names, photographs, and stories, which is also a valuable new tool for genealogists.
MLive will chronicle the men and women of Michigan who served during World War 2 and are still with us with a series of stories and events to commemorate their service. As part of our effort to honor these veterans, we plan to document them in listings in our local communities across Michigan. We plan to culminate the project on Veterans Day with events throughout the state. There will also be stories throughout the year about Michigan’s role in the war and the […]

19 May 2014

A World War II Widow Journeys to Normandy

World War II Widow Journeys to Normandy is the story of a 60-year search for the final resting place of 1st Lt. Billie Dowe Harris. If you read only one thing about World War II and Normandy as the 70th anniversary of D-Day approaches, I hope it’s about 1st Lt. Harris and his devoted wife, Peggy.

Peggy and Billie Harris were married just six weeks before 1st Lt. Harris left to serve in World War II. On July 17, 1944, 1st Lt. Harris flew a mission over Nazi-occupied France, from which he never returned.
For more than 60 years, Peggy has been on a journey to find answers to her husband’s whereabouts.

He was first reported as missing, and then reported as alive and coming home. But Peggy later received a letter saying he was killed and buried at a certain cemetery, then another letter that said he was buried in another […]