I am excited to announce that registration is open for my new 2020 short story writing groups! These groups began in January 2020 and will have a rolling enrollment as space is available.

A 6-month commitment is required. Be sure to watch the video in the registration page to learn more about why writing is transformational for your research, life, and family.

Roots and War Writers Group

Two exclusive writing groups limited to 8 people.

Two date/time options for participation.

Roots and War Writers Group will help participants take their stories, articles, and blog posts, to a deeper level by exploring topics beyond the basics of genealogy or military history.

View additional details and register here.

 

© 2020 World War II Research and Writing Center

“The most common question I get from people is, “Why aren’t all the records and resources I need to research my military service member, free and online?”

MOST COMMONLY USED SITES

Additional Resources

  • U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center
  • Pritzker Military Museum & Library.
  • Internet Archive
  • Library of Congress
  • University Library Special Collections. Search special collections in the cities and states where your soldier lived after the war.
  • Research libraries.  Many have finding aids to help researchers locate information.
  • Genealogical and historical societies. Most towns, counties, and states have societies that hold some information.
  • Local libraries. There are many small libraries around the country that do not have the staff or money to digitize their collections. Are you communicating with this resource?
  • European and PTO researchers. Did you know there are many hobbyist researchers in Europe and the Pacific Theater who have amassed a large amount of information? 

THE MYTH & CHANGING THE DISCUSSION


Military research is a combination of online and offline research, which allows us to tell a more complete story about a soldier, sailor, or Marine’s service. The most common thought from most people we encounter at the World War II Research and Writing Center, is that all the records and resources you need are all free and online.

This is not reality.

Read my article, Why WWII Research Is Not Free to learn more.

We observe conversations on social media that insist all the records are available online and if they aren’t, you don’t need them. The same handful of websites are referred to again and again. People get stuck because the information isn’t online, they get frustrated, and often quit. Instead, why not consider working with a researcher (yes you will pay for this service) and using a variety of sources?

Why don’t we also change the discussion? What would it take for those die hard folks who insist it is all free and online to step back and see there are many ways to conduct research? And for the research community as a whole, why not recognize there are many more resources available than the ones commonly suggested?

Changing the Discussion

Did you know there are many more websites available where people can locate pieces of their soldier, sailor, or Marine’s service history?

Each website you visit, each book you pick up, each record you analyze, each story you hear or photo you view that belongs to your family, adds a piece to the entire puzzle. Each piece allows you to view that soldier’s history in historical context. Only exploring the limited information online does not allow for the fuller picture to emerge. So where can we find more information that no one is talking about? Start thinking outside the box of where to locate information.

Additional Resources

The resources presented here will hopefully start you thinking along a new path for research. Need more suggestions?  Books to help you learn how to research online and offline. Visit our book section to see all the military research books Jennifer has written. While WWII based – the strategies, records, and tips also apply to WWI, Korea and Vietnam.

We are industry leaders.

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service?

Check out our Researching WWII Online webinar. This webinar gives you the tools to research any 20th century war.

Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2020 Jennifer Holik

 

Many of the clients who work with me over the last few years have sought deeper answers. They come to the research consultation with family stories, secrets, perhaps lies they discovered. They come with questions wondering who really was my father or mother? Sometimes the research itself provides secrets that were hidden for decades, or answers that change the perception a client has on their family member or even, themselves. This can cause grief, a sense of loss, sense of abandonment, trigger PTSD, and many other things.

Research Services

We offer many research and writing services. Each project is customized for the client because each client has different needs.

  • Locate, analyze, and interpret World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam records across all branches for military personnel, including individual soldier records, company records, and unit records.
  • Reconstruct service history, placing pieces of your service member’s puzzle together, even when the records burned! We find the answers where other firms do not.
  • Help you locate information you didn’t realize you had and sort out your family stories.
  • Help you process the emotions that rise through your family stories, the research, and final results.
  • Help you plan a trip to Europe to walk in your soldier’s footsteps.
    • Connect you with researchers and tour guides in Europe to learn more about your soldier’s story or visit the battlefields.
    • Can’t visit Europe? We can go where you soldier was to document the journey.
  • Write and publish a book about your family or soldier or assist you with the project.

So What is Upgraded?

Many of our clients discover things through the research they did not know or that changes what they knew. We now offer resources to clients from the start of the project, to help them process what they learn.

First, not every client receives news from the research that changes their world or shatters the image of their family member. I am seeing a rise in what clients require for support over the last two years and feel resources are necessary. To learn more about this, you can read two articles I recently wrote. More details from the Zoom professionals calls will be coming as new resources are developed within the group.

Each new client will receive an intake type of worksheet asking them to write notes about their project, their family member and themselves. I encourage this at the start of the project. Some clients will learn things they were not expecting, so having a baseline to refer to later is helpful in processing their emotions and the new information.

Additionally, each client will receive an exit worksheet asking similar and different questions to help them to continue processing the information learned. Where necessary, additional resources will be provided.

For clients who would like a more personalized approach to understanding and working through the research, I offer one-one facilitation sessions where we focus on your research, the results, your stories, what it brought up for you, and we move through this in various ways. Explore our Facilitation Services to learn more.

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist and that is not my role in the facilitation. I can provide resources but they should not be taken as medical advice. Some clients with disturbing and life altering results may need to seek professional help to work through things.

Can I help you with your research?

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service? Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time. You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2019 Jennifer Holik

Why Use Themes?

  • They help you organize thoughts.
  • Secondly, they help you create interview questions.
  • Thirdly, they may guide a family gathering and conversation.
  • Fourth, they create an outline for a story or book.

Writing Themes

My invitation to you:

Take these writing themes and craft some interview or journaling questions around them. See where each leads you and begin to craft your story.  Download a writing theme worksheet to get you started!


Top 10 U.S. Writing Themes

Prompt Themes for United States Writers

  • Life on the Home Front Before, During & After the War
  • Community Impact
  • Women in the War
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Communication
  • Propaganda
  • War Orphans, War Widows, and Adoptions
  • Remembrance of the Fallen
  • Honoring the Veterans
  • Memories of Post-War Generations

Top 10 European Writing Themes

 

  • Life Before, During & After the War
  • Occupation or Annexation
  • Propaganda
  • Resistance
  • Persecution
  • War Orphans and Adoptions
  • Memories of the Post-War Generations
  • Preserving the Memories
  • Memorials and Monuments
  • Liberation Ceremonies

© 2019 Jennifer Holik

Let Us Help


Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service?

Email us at  info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.


 

 

 

 

I’m taking several classes around ancestral lineage healing, grief, loss, boundaries, and embodiment. Some of this is for myself and some of it is for my clients. Family and military history for many people today is not just about names, dates, and places or battles fought. There are deeper issues, lies, secrets, questions, unknowns that my clients seek answers and closure to.

If you would like to know more about my work check out my websites that focus on educational materials, deeper questions, online courses and webinars. Consider joining the email lists to be the first to know about upcoming new programs.

Learn how I can help you

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service? There are many ways we can help you with research – we offer full service history research, we can help with evaluating what you have to prepare a research plan for you to do some of it yourself, we can help you write the stories. Just email us at the address below to schedule a free phone consult to discuss options.

Want to travel in your service member’s footsteps? We are a firm with not only hands-on document experience but also travel experience and can connect you with a guide or suggest places to stay and visit. We are taking new clients and can help you find the answers and tell a deeper story about your family member. Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

© 2019 Jennifer Holik

 

 

WHY SEARCH ONLINE?

Many of the records you will need to reconstruct military service are not online, but you may find a lot of puzzle pieces to help you move the research forward and connect some dots. Here are my top 10 techniques to help you.


  1. Use quotes around exact phrases you wish to search. “James Privoznik” is an example.
  2. Search by name and serial/service number. Try James Privoznik 36640529, or just the number. Usually the results will come from the NARA Enlistment Database, if the soldier enlisted in the Army. Sometimes it will come from articles or blog posts, unless records have been indexed.
  3. Use specific and unique terms. Try 90th Infantry Division, 358th Infantry WWII, 90th Division WWII, or any combination.
  4. Try the wildcard using the * symbol. WWII* or Privoznik*
  5. Change your search preferences to search a specific date range of items posted online. For example, maybe you are looking for a person and only articles posted this year or a specific date range of 2012-2014.
  6. Search for the name of a group using different spellings. For example, the 100th Bomb Group was called the Bloody Hundredth or Bloody 100th. Searching all three options may provide different search results.
  7. For Army Air Forces, try searching for the name or number of the plane flown, the name of a pilot, or names of bomb crew members. Search for collaterals – those people your service member served with.
  8. Search for names of bridges taken, battles fought, cities bombed, specific Hills (and their numbers).
  9. Try a specific group and the name of a military report you wish to locate. For example, 100th Bomb Group Mission Report, 90th Division After Action Report, or 327 Engineer Morning Reports.
  10. Creatively search the results that appear in a search. Digitized materials are prepared by Optical Character Recognition (OCR.) OCR picks up approximately 80% of the words in a scanned document, which leaves a lot of room for researchers to miss key records. This happens more in military documents which are blurry, damaged from weather, fire, water, or other reasons, or were not in great condition when they were originally scanned. Not all military records, regardless of archive from which they come, look like they were just printed off a laser printer.

 

 

ARE YOU READY TO START SEARCHING ONLINE?

Websites change every day. Be sure to document what sites you visit and what you discovered or did not discover. Maybe the most important tip I can give you is:

Download every single file you find. It might disappear tomorrow.

 

 

Best in the Industry

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service?

Email us at  info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2019 Jennifer Holik

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EXPLORING THE DEATH RECORDS FOR WORLD WAR I


It has been more than 100 years since the U.S. entered World War I. Because of this anniversary, many people are beginning to investigate their World War I soldier’s history. A lot of people think all the records burned, as was the case with many World War II personnel files. While the fire did destroy some World War I files, there are still so many other records you can obtain.

Did you know that all soldiers, sailors, and Marines who died or are still considered Missing In Action (MIA) in World War I have a death record called a Burial File? This is the World War I equivalent of the World War II Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). This is one file you want if your soldier, sailor, or Marine died during the war.

A couple of years ago on my WWII site, I wrote an article about U.S. Army Transports. These USAT transported both living soldiers and the dead. My great grand uncle, Michael Kokoska was one such soldier.

The Burial File contains information on a soldier’s death, temporary burial overseas, correspondence from the family, and final burial details. Michael Kokoska’s contains a lot of handwritten letters from his parents begging for word on his burial location and return of his remains. The letters are heart breaking.

There is also a document, written a year after Michael died, about the cause of his death. Is this really what happened? Perhaps. For now it is all I have to go on about the cause of his death. While Michael’s file was difficult and sad to read, it provided a lot of information on his service.

Wold you like to know more? View the Burial File for Michael Kokoska. Watch a short video about Michael.

Would you like to know more about Michael and his life? In my book, Stories of the Lost, you can read Michael’s full story.

©  2019 Jennifer Holik

 

Are You Ready to Research?

Let Us Help


Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service?

Email us at  info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

 

 

 

 

JOURNAL TO HEAL YOURSELF AND YOUR ANCESTORS


Journaling has been something I have been doing since I was a little girl. Not consistently though until the last few years. My early journals were typical of a girl moving into puberty, Jr. High and High School, with talk of which boy was the cutest, drama with friends and siblings, and my dreams for the future. In High School they became much more. An outlet to describe frustrations in my family life (typical teenager complaints), a safe place to explore the larger world and my gigantic dreams which were too large and out there for most people in my life. I’m sure most people who knew me then, thought I was crazy for having such big dreams and growing up in such a small town.

After I became an adult, the journals changed again as an even more safe place to talk about my fears, sadness, guilt, shame, mistakes, anger, and dreams. When I had my first child, miscarriages, and later twins, the journals became a place to express all I had before, adding marriage troubles, and my hopes and dreams for my children.

When I moved out in June 2012 to get divorced and start a new life, I had a relatively new and thriving business. The journals became a place to work through all the changes in my life, express my fears in being a single mother and business owner, channeling my relatives and guides as I transitioned into a more authentic version of who I was. They also became a place to create many things for my business, which shifted from genealogy to WWI and WWII research, speaking, and writing.

My journaling has been so intense the last several years, so vulnerable and open, that I have personally changed a great deal, as have those around me. As we heal ourselves, others heal too, even if we are unaware it is happening. I channel the soldiers when they show up asking for help. The research and writing, and even the programs I teach, heal the living and the dead.

The journals that have shown up and gifted to me since December are also full of magic. I ask them before I write in them, what do you want from me? The last journal I filled told me I had to be more open, honest, and vulnerable about everything and share the journal with my fiancé! That was a scary concept because I don’t share my journals. Yet I knew if I could be vulnerable and authentic, and share my writing with him, I would be able to share more of myself with the world when the time was right.

Do you know what happened when he read the journal? We both healed. I didn’t die of fright or shame or guilt over anything I wrote. He didn’t head for the hills and never speak to me again. The entire process allowed me to move into a place I had never been. A very good place.

We are all works in progress. As I shift more each day into a more authentic, aware version of myself, a healer, mother, soon to be wife, daughter, friend, business owner, the people entering my reality is shifting and changing. Clients are showing up asking for military research but also so much more. I’m hearing words and phrases:

I’m looking for answers, closure, peace, healing.

Words they put into their stories when we talk include: answers, closure, peace, healing, shame, guilt, fear, anger, love, trauma, PTSD, inherited trauma, resolution, secrets, pain, and many more.

I’m trying to understand WHO my father really was. Why our relationship was as it was. WHO I am after learning all this.

These secrets were kept for so long. What do I do with them? How do I resolve the past and understand?

Would you please write a summary of my dad’s service to be read at his military funeral?

At least a few of my new clients are journaling about their lives, families, trauma (both their own and inherited), and research on their family members. Some of them use journaling to understand the past to heal it and themselves. Others use it to also record their journey through the research, the questions and answers, and healing, in preparation to write a book or walk in Europe where their soldier walked (and often died.)

When we think of genealogical or military research, we often focus only on the research and adding information to our family tree. Too often we choose not to write anything. It becomes a single short fact in a tree or database.

What would happen if we had a journal dedicated to our research? A safe place to document our progress, questions, answers, hidden family secrets, and all the shame, guilt, anger, hate, and even LOVE that arises throughout the process?

Are you using journaling for your research? How has it helped you? What tips do you have for others who are ready to start this process of research and healing?

 

 

Let Us Help


Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service?

Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2019 Jennifer Holik

 

 

 

 

REASONS TO CREATE A TIMELINE

  • First, it organizes all your information in one place.
  • Secondly, a timeline provides a visual representation of the overall military service.
  • Thirdly, you will see gaps & errors in your research.
  • Fourth, you will start asking more questions about your family member.
  • Fifth, you will be able to create new research plans to tell a deeper, more complete story.

CREATING A TIMELINE OF MILITARY SERVICE

One of the most important things you can do when you start researching, is to create a timeline of service.


DOCUMENT YOUR SOURCES

I encourage you to write a source citation for every fact you list in your timeline. This is important so you know exactly where information came from, especially if you need to refer to it again.

It also provides a paper trail for others to reference should they want to recreate your work.

Additionally, a bibliography of sources used should be created.

CREATE YOUR TIMELINE


Start with a simple table that shows the Date, Unit/Location, and Notes. The Date is the date of the record that has information you need. Unit/Location is the unit in which the service member served at that time and where. For Navy personnel this could only be the name of a Ship or Station. A Ship is at sea a Station is a land-based facility.

The Notes column is the important information contained in the document that explains what happened to the service member.

Finally, put a footnote in at the end of the NOTE so you can reference where the fact came from. It can be as simple as the File name and the document on which you located the information. The point of having a source is so you know exactly where you found the information in the first place so you can refer to it when you have conflicting dates and events.

IMPORTANT!

It is also good to note if a document does not have a date but has a date/time stamp on it. Some Navy records come undated but with date/time stamps, which show a date after the original document was sent. Keep in mind, in those days, communication was not fast as it is today with instant messages, Twitter, and Facebook.

EXAMPLE TIMELINE

 

1944    
10 January 1944 Unit: HQ Co 51st AIB

Station: Enroute overseas

The unit disembarked at Newport, England at 2000.[i]
11 January 1944 Station: Enroute to barracks location The unit arrived at Sandridge Park, Camp Wiltshire England at 0130.[ii] The unit remained here for several months.
17 March 1944 Station: Sandridge Park, Camp Wiltshire, England 1st Lt James Pomfret from duty to leave for 5 days.[iii]
22 March 1944 Station: Sandridge Park, Camp Wiltshire, England James to duty from leave.[iv]
4 May 1944 Station: Sandridge Park, Camp Wiltshire, England James from absent sick 217th General Hospital to TD (temp duty) Preston Hall near Uppingham Rutlandshire. Unit was alerted for departure.[v]
4-18 May 1944 Station: Preston Hall near Uppingham Rutlandshire  
19 May 1944 Station: Sandridge Park, Camp Wiltshire, England James returned from TD at Preston Hall.[vi]
30 June 1944 Station: Sandridge Park Camp 2 mi E Melksham Wilts 21-29 June usual camp duties. 30 June Company attended USO show in the area.[vii]
7 July 1944 Station: Cadland Park Hants 1 ½ mi W Fawley Unit left Sandridge Camp at 0440. Arrived B Marshalling Area 1330. Preparing to go to the continent.[viii]
10 July 1944 Station: Pier 44 Old Docks Southampton Hants Unit left Marshalling Area B at 0930 and proceeded to Southampton. Arrived 1300.[ix]
11 July 1944 Station: Solent Anchorage Southampton Harbor Unit boarded SS John R Parks Liberty Ship at 1000 at Pier 41 Old Docks Southampton Harbor. Left dock at 1230 took place in convoy in harbor.[x]
12 July 1944 Station: Ancorage off Utah Beach Unit left Southampton Harbor at 0830 and crossed Channel. Dropped anchor off Utah Beach at 2045.[xi]
13 July 1944 Station: 1 mi N Canville-la-Rocque, France Unit started unloading at 1715. Left ship at 1855. Beached at 1913. Unloaded at 2005 at Utah Beach.[xii]

[i] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 10 Jan 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[ii] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 11 Jan 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[iii] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 17 Mar 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[iv] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 22 Mar 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[v] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 4 May 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[vi] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 19 May 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[vii] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 30 June 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[viii] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 7 July 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[ix] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 10 July 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[x] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 11 July 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[xi] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 12 July 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

[xii] Company Morning Report HQ Co 51st AIB dated 13 July 1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.

 

Best in the Industry

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service?

Email us at  info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time.

You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2019 Jennifer Holik

contact us

 

 

 

 

I am often asked how to reconstruct a military service file. In this short video I talk about this. Be sure to scroll down to see the additional resources to help you accurately reconstruct military history. You might be surprised to discover reconstruction is not what a lot of people tell you it is.

Watch our video to learn more!

Additional Resources

Pick up one of our research books on Kindle or Paperback from Amazon. We have the only books on the market that teach you how to research any 20th century war. The strategies, records, and tools that we teach you for WWII research apply to WWI, Korea, and Vietnam.

Take one of our online courses available at WWII Education.

Educational Articles on Research

Videos

 

Can I help you with your research?

Check out our Researching WWII Online webinar. This webinar gives you the tools to research any 20th century war.

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service? Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time. You can also sign-up for our free newsletter and receive the Start Writing Your Military Story Today free!

© 2019 Jennifer Holik