Friday, November 27, 2009

Help for UK researchers

Following on the heels of a similar success, one UK researcher's appeal to the Information Commissioner under the Freedom of Information Act "could unlock details from the 1939 National Registration of the UK - an emergency, census-like survey of the country at the beginning of the war," as noted in a recent BBC article etnitled, "Families on the brink of war."

"The National Registration enumeration, carried out on the night of Friday 29 September 1939, led to the issue of about 46 million identity cards for citizens the following month," the article reports. The records are currently closed to the public.

"The truth is, it's often far more difficult to find out about recent history than Victorian history and beyond," says family historian Guy Etchells. Etchells, credited as the "driving force" behind the recent release of 1911 census for England and Wales.

As we learn from Margaret Meade, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And off they went . . .

A recent article in the Canadian Press tells of a family of ten brothers from Prince Edward Island, all of whom served in World War II. The story reminded me of the Sullivans, five brothers all serving together aboard the same ship during World War II who lost their lives when their ship went down in the South Pacific. Although the brothers from Prince Edward Island returned home, the war left its mark. Their story is kept alive by a daughter who says of her children and grandchildren, "We talk, they see the pictures." The article, "And off they went . . .," is a retrospective of these two stories.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ancestry posts two new WW II collections

Announced in a recent press release, with regard to the highly anticipated premiere this week of Ken Burns documentary "The War," encourages Americans to honor the legacies of their family members or loved ones who served in WWII by preserving their unique stories online. For the 81 percent of Americans who say they have had a family member or loved one serve in the military, provides a wide range of services to archive and explore their family's military history, such as recording oral histories with its new audio storytelling service.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, America loses approximately 1,000 WWII veterans every day. Their vanishing legacies have sparked a growing consciousness to capture their stories.

For those interested in delving deeper into their military roots, hosts the largest collection of U.S. military records available and searchable online, featuring more than 90 million names that span the 1600s through Vietnam. This week, added two new collections pertaining specifically to WWII, including: WWII Military Personnel (MIA/Lost at Sea) and WWII "Stars and Stripes" Newspaper.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Cemetery for US 'Flying Tigers' found in China

An interesting article in China Daily, "Cemetery for US 'Flying Tigers' found in China," indicates researchers have found in Southwest China a cemetery built during the Second World War where about 300 air warriors of the US squadron "Flying Tigers" were buried. The cemetery lies in the woods in Puzhao village in the northeastern suburbs of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, said Sun Guansheng, head of the Yunnan Flying Tigers Research Association. About 300 Flying Tigers members and 500 Chinese airmen were buried in the cemetery when it was first built near a nunnery in the village in 1943. The cemetery was moved to the current site in 1949, according to Sun.

"Many people came to pay their respect to the air warriors before it was moved. However, few people are coming at present," Sun quoted local elder villagers as saying.

Many tombs have sunk decades after they were built, and the cemetery as a whole lacks due protection, Sun said, adding that the association has called on the local government to repair and protect the cemetery.

The article goes on to give an account of the heroic Flying Tigers in China during the war.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

"Warts-and-all journey into the past"

The old adage, you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family certainly holds true for genealogy. We often find ancestors with less than admirable traits or behaviors, and yet, as hard as it may be to confront the issues, we may come to a greater understanding as we view our ancestors within a historical context. While this does not excuse them, it may help us come to terms with that part of our history. An interesting article on EUX.TV, "Family history TV digs up German past including Nazis, takes a look at the popular British family history TV series when it is transported to Germany:

The BBC programme, Who Do You Think You Are?, premiered in 2004 and gained such big audiences that a fourth series is set to air this September. In each programme, a famous actor or TV personality discovers what their ancestors did in two World Wars, then explores places where forebears lived in the 19th century and meets up with previously unknown cousins. Transposing the programme to Germany creates a problem. Discovering a rabid Nazi in the family tree is often enough to put people off any further inquiries. "Still, there were no inhibitions on the two shows which were aired this month by public channel ZDF. . . . [as] 1.26 million people or 8 per cent of the viewers watched his warts-and-all journey into the past."

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

WW II Movie Newsreels Online at

Long before we consumed our news from network television and eons before the 24/7 news coverage we have today, you could "see" what was happening in the world every time you went to the movies. Anyone who went to the movies through the 1940s and 50s will remember the movie newsreels, giving us the news of the day. Bigger than life and dramatically presented, an important part of this movie history is now available on The site provides online access to the United Newsreel Motion Pictures (1942-1946), the actual movie newsreel of the war years.

As described on the Ancestry site, "During WWII, the U.S. Government produced a number of newsreels depicting Allied military operations in various theatres of war and events taking place in the U.S. home front. Typically 10 minutes long, these counter-propaganda newsreels were shown in U.S. movie theaters, distributed in friendly and neutral countries and dropped behind German lines." As a child of the 50s, having sat through what seemed like hundreds of these at the movie matinees we went to as kids (and not to thrilled at the time), today I am thrilled that we can now share some of that experience with our children.

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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Exhibit features arts and crafts of Japanese internment camps

The article, Book leads way to art exhibit, appearing in the, provides information on "The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946," an exhibit by author and curator, Delphine Hirasuna whose own parents were interned in one of the camps. The exhibit runs until February 25 at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco. Admission is free on February 19, to commemorate the signing of Executive Order 9066, which brought about the internment. You can visit the Museum's web site at

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Monday, November 20, 2006

World War II Internment Camp Sites

There was an article published Friday in The Honolulu Advertiser about the "120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were unjustly and unconstitutionally detained behind barbed wire during World War II. " In "Senate backs bill to preserve internment camp sites" we are reminded of this very sad but important chapter in our nation's history.

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