On the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I

This Sunday, November 11, is Veteran’s Day 2018.

And not just Veteran’s Day, but the 100th anniversary of the end of what was thought then to be The War to End All Wars.

There will be commemorations and memorials around the world, telling the stories of those who fought and those who never came home.

It’s our job as genealogists to make sure that all those in our own families who were touched by those events are remembered.

And, this weekend, the National Archives of the United States and some of the genealogy companies are making that a little bit easier for us.

First off, from the U.S. National Archives, take a look at the entry page for resources Commemorating the Great War: World War I Centennial. There’s a lot there for anyone looking at this time.

There’s also a new set of images that’s just come online from the National Archives: the burial cards of soldiers who died during World War I, many of whom are buried overseas, like this one for the burial of Edward Abe of North Milwaukee, Wisconsin, killed in Action on 4 August 1918:

WWI burial card

And you can even take a look at the blueprints of survey maps and field drawings of burial plats for U.S. soldiers.

While you’re there at NARA, take a look at the American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-1918, and consider joining in the Citizen Archivist effort to transcribe the unit histories and other records of World War I with Records of Divisions, 1917 – 1920. These are particularly critical since so many individual records from World War I were lost in the fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 — a unit history may be the best, even close to the only, record of individual service for some soldiers.

Meanwhile, other records are available to us — free — for this weekend:

FindMyPast announced it would make its entire collection of records and newspapers available for starting today at 12 noon (GMT) and ending on 12 November at 12 noon (GMT) in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War: “Over 9 billion records covering the UK, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Findmypast’s vast archive of British, Irish and World Newspapers, will be completely free to search and explore. By providing free access to such a wide range of resources, Findmypast is offering researchers across the globe the chance to honour the struggles and sacrifices endured by their ancestors, telling their stories and unravelling a complete picture of their lives before, during and after one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history.”1

MyHeritage is also offering access to its military records collections free between 8 November and 12 November: “To commemorate the centennial of the end of the war, we are offering free military records on MyHeritage SuperSearch starting tomorrow, from November 8-12, 2018. Military records are valuable resources which provide insight into the lives of those who served, as well as their families. With these records, learn about your ancestors, honor their memories and their service to their country. By preserving this information, the stories, and the photos for future generations make sure your family’s contribution will never be forgotten.”2

Ancestry is also offering access, at least to its US military records collections, free through 12 November: “Find inspiring stories of veterans in your family when you search more than 250 million U.S. military records. … Our U.S. military records cover all 50 states and nearly 400 years of American history, from the Colonial era to Vietnam—and beyond. Discovering your family’s service to our nation may just be a quick search away. Enjoy free access until Monday.”3 There may be free access in other areas of the world — I can only access the US site, so can’t be sure. You’ll want to check Ancestry for your own region.

There’s more, much more, of course, out there for research… but this will give us a start — for free — this weekend.


SOURCES

  1. Press release, “FindMyPast Grants Three Days of Free Access to All Records and Newspapers to Mark 100 Years Since the End of the First World War,” FindMyPast.com, 8 Nov 2018.
  2. Free Military Records: Marking 100 years since the end of WWI,” MyHeritage Blog, posted 7 Nov 2018 (https://blog.myheritage.com/ : accessed 9 Nov 2018).
  3. Honoring Veterans Day – free access to all u.s. military records,” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 9 Nov 2018).
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