Why, if the library does not have any military personnel records, would I refer people there, or any other military research institution?

  • They have books which provide historical context on battles and what soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines endured.
  • There are rare books you cannot find elsewhere with incredible information.
  • There is an archive with original documents. This archive may not have information on your soldier but will provide context in many cases.
  • The library has photographs and maps. These add interesting details to a story you can write about your soldier and help you understand the records. Photos and maps also add a visual component to stories which keep more people engaged.
  • And, did I mention the staff is incredible?
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MILITARY RECORDS ARE EVERYWHERE

I spend a lot of time at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago conducting research for clients and myself. I also refer a lot of people there for assistance with their military research. I love the atmosphere at the library, the many shelves of books, the archival records, and the rare books.

The staff is top notch and really know their stuff. Over the last eight years, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to Paul Grasmehr, the Reference Coordinator, about my research and always learn so much.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Before asking any research institution for assistance, especially institutions with smaller staff, there are several things to consider.

  • Staff is often limited to a few people who do multiple jobs. Do not expect an immediate answer to your inquiry.
    • Inquiries may take longer to receive an answer because the staff member is conducting some preliminary research on your behalf before they respond.
    • When you receive a response, read through it several times. Often the response will contain websites and books to look into.
    • Responses may contain questions for you to answer about what was found or needs to be clarified.
    • In-depth research is not always possible and the institution may suggest you hire a researcher.
  • The more information you can give the staff member, the easier it can be to assist with your request.
    • Use a Family Group Sheet created by the Pritzker Military Museum and Library for their requests.
    • Do not overload your initial request with document copies. Instead, list the documents you have scanned that you could send if they wish to see them.
  • Read the institution’s research request guidelines. Some repositories allow up to three requests per person until the request has been completed.
    • Research is not always free and photocopies are almost always not free. Make sure you read that part of the guidelines so you know what you are getting into before you make a request.
  • If you are looking for specific resources, use the institution’s card catalog to create a list to include with your request.
  • Consider making a visit to the institution to conduct research yourself. Many repositories will pull materials prior to your arrival if you request.

Are you ready to take your World War II research to the next level? If so, start contacting repositories which have records and resources beyond personnel files.

If you need a researcher to do more in-depth work or help you research from start to finish, please contact me. I am currently taking new clients.

© 2020 Research A Veteran


 

Sources in your home may contain clues for family & military research. Have you explored every possibility?”

SUBHEADING

EXPLORING HOME SOURCES

A home source is a document, photograph, piece of memorabilia, or ephemera that provides clues to the puzzle you are attempting to solve. Search not only your home, but ask relatives to search theirs for clues.

Have you explored all the possible home sources that could provide clues to your military research?

As you search, look for information to help you add structure and details to your soldier’s story.

POSSIBLE HOME SOURCES

Bibles. Within family Bibles, we often find names of family members with dates of birth, marriage, death, and other significant dates like military service.

Company Records. Check with the businesses and companies for which the soldiers worked prior to the war.

Diaries, Letters and Postcards. Did the soldier keep a diary or send letters (V-Mail) home? Were there postcards sent home? The military censored a lot of material in letters and postcards sent home. While these letters will not have some key information we would wish they would, they give us an idea of life as a soldier. Check the envelopes of letters for service numbers and unit information.

MORE HOME SOURCES

Funeral and Cemetery Records. Did you check with the funeral home that handled your ancestor’s burial? If there was a military burial ceremony, proof of service had to be shown. The funeral home’s records may contain proof of military service or a copy of the discharge paperwork.

Home Movies. Did your family take home movies? Do you have any with your soldier in uniform? Are there any taken of parades or war gatherings in the U.S.? What clues do these movies provide?

Military Unit Newsletters or Newspapers. Some units created newsletters or newspapers while overseas as a way to keep the company updated on events or news from home. Often these will provide a date and general location of service which can help you complete a timeline of service.

Pension Records. Pension records from the military or an employer may provide clues to military service, addresses, and work and military history.

Probate Records. Probate records may seem more like a genealogical record to pursue, but depending on what assets the deceased had and to whom these assets were left, you may discover military information. Probate records usually contain Heir Testimony or lists of heirs, which will help you establish family histories. There also might be clues regarding the gravestone.

State-Level War Participation Certificate. It was common for a soldier to return to his home after the war ended before possibly moving elsewhere.

World War II Bonus Applications. After World War II, the government provided a bonus payment for service overseas. These bonus applications are often found within state archival holdings. Some, for states like Pennsylvania, have been digitized and placed online. The Bonus Application would have been filed in the state in which the soldier lived after service. Check with your State Archives regarding holdings and access. In some states, these records are open and available. In other states, like Illinois, laws restrict access for many more years.

Would You Like More?

Download our Military Home Source Checklist and start searching today!

Schedule a Free Research Consult Today!

Email Jennifer!

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 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