WWI in the Passenger Lists of the U.S. Army Transport Service (Part I)

In my lectures, I recommend searching for Ancestry.com’s military records from the Military Records Landing Page.

 

 

When you search from the regular search page, the results are from the most popular 10% of all their databases. Searching from the Military Landing Page, I came across records from: U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939. The record in this database give you the name of the person traveling on U.S. Army Transport plus the military organization, the military serial number and whom to notify in case of emergency and his/her relationship to the passenger. The people who would be notified were wives, mothers, father, grandmothers, cousins and friends and their addresses were listed in the record.

This is another possible path to find the military organization and service number of your WWI ancestor! When your ancestor has a common name, you can use the contact information and address to verify you have the correct person in the record.

In the records, you may find family members or foreign personnel that were transported by the Army. These are from the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985, Record Group 92, held at NARA in College Park.

 

Searching the Database

It is always a good idea to read the information about the specific database to learn if there is a reason you cannot locate an individual. When you search an individual database on Ancestry.com, that information is available on its search page. Reading all that is the hardest thing to do when the empty search boxes beckon you, but at least you know where to find the information if you need it.

From the database page, you can search using a variety of fields, or browse starting with the List Type (Outgoing or Incoming).

 

 

From this page for one individual database page, you can search or browse through the collection. You can narrow down your search to one database, and alter your search terms to find your ancestor’s record.

In addition to a name and dates, there are useful fields to search this database.

 

 

Searching for my specific soldier’s name yielded multiple results, but using his military service number tuned right in to his record. This documented his return from France on the S. S. Wilhemina. I checked the box for “Exact” and only one record was returned.

 

 

The actual record is below.

 

 

Finding his way over to France proved a little more challenging. I had to uncheck the exact box for his service number.

One thing to try  is to use a space after a name beginning with “Mc” (or O’, Mac or Van), but that did not help. It was clear his name had been misrecorded or misindexed.

Since I knew it, I added the ship’s name, and added his military organization in the Keyword field: “51st Pioneer Infantry”.

 

 

This proved successful.

 

 

His name was indexed correctly; it was misspelled in the original record.

 

 

Always remember to select and copy the source citation information.

 

 

Reading through these records is interesting. There are notations about soldiers who were transferred between units, hospitalilzed, and those who were A.W.O.L. (Absent With Out Leave) before boarding the ship to Europe. The experience of training, then going off to war had to be overwhelming. For some immigrants, like my Grandfather, it must have seemed surreal to head back to the continent they had left behind a few, or many, years ago.

These records are a great resource for building a timeline of your WWI ancestor’s service. They are invaluable for connecting that ancestor to a family member and a place.

The next post will cover finding information about a specific military organization traveling in these record.

 

 

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5 Ancestry.com Databases for WWI Research

Among Ancestry.com’s databases, are some really interesting ones that will help you to research your WWI ancestors. This post covers five of the United States databases.

 

1. Whether or not your ancestor fought in World War I, this is a go-to database for finding men between 18 and 45 years old. The information includes a man’s birth date and place, occupation, address, physical description, and the name and address of the next of kin. The information on these cards will not tell you if the ancestor served, but can help you to verify if the military records you find are for the same man.

This database was updated on 4/6/2017. I know it is hard not to just jump in and search, but make some time to read the helpful hints in the database description.

U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

 

2. If your ancestor served, there may be an application for a military headstone. These applications include information about the military unit in which your ancestor served, which is key to continuing research into his military life.

U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963

 

3. Over ten percent of the soldiers who served in WWI were from New York State, making this is an important database for many researchers. New York state created these abstracts from the military records that were ultimately destroyed in the National Personnel Records Center fire in 1973. They contain information about service organization(s) with assignment dates and transfers, ranks and promotion, dates of oversea service and injuries These cards typically had a front and a back, so be sure to select the next page to see the back of the card (if it is included). You can even find female ancestors in this database.

New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919

 

4. This database contains records for officers in the New York National Guard. It contains cards for the officers, and it contains more than WWI records. According to the database description, there may be cards for some Non-Commissioned Officers and Enlisted personnel, but I have yet to find any.

New York, Military Service Cards, 1816-1979

 

5. If you had a Jewish soldier, The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Office of Jewish War Records sent out surveys to soldiers that were assumed to be Jewish to the service of Jews in the American armed forces. Be sure to look at the pages after the questionnaire in case supporting documents were included.

U.S., WWI Jewish Servicemen Questionnaires, 1918-1921

 

Searching the Card Catalog for keywords “WWI” will bring up more databases, including British and U.K. records. Searching for “World War I” brought up records for both WWI and WWII.

3 Great WWI Research Resources

Since the beginning of the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I, I have been on the lookout for more material about the Great War. Not only is it a part of the world’s history, it is part of our family’s history. Learning about the conflict deepens our understanding of the ancestors who lived through these events.

1. The New England Historic Genealogical Society has a great webpage that combines resources for both World War I & World War II U.S. Veteran Research.

 

 


 

2. The Delaware Public Archives has A Guide to World War I Records. This is great resource because of the depth of the material it offers. The tabs on the page lead you to resources for topics such as: Service Records and Pension Records; Genealogical Sources; and Social History and Context. You can start at World War I: Service Records and Pension Records.

 

 

Click the other tabs to check out more material.

 


 

3. The third resource is Chronicling America. Rather than search by newspaper or location, this time you will search Topics by Subject. Start on the Topics by Subject page to see the topics that have an associated webpage.

 

 

Scroll down to find the War Topics. In that section, you will find WWI topics:

 

 

On each topic page there is basic information about the topic, links to sample articles and suggested research strategies.The topic page for Planes in WWI (1908-1917) is shown below.

 

 

Enjoy using these resources to learn more about the life and times of your WWI ancestors!

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NARA Records for the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Soldiers (RG15)

Have you been watching the recordings of the NARA Virtual Conferences on YouTube?

The Best National Archives Records Genealogists Aren’t Using presentation discussed Record Group (RG) 15, which is the records of the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Soldiers.

From the presentation, I learned that the files for the permanent residents have been retained, and are available from one specific branch of NARA. Some sample folders for temporary residents had also been retained.

Albert H. Tingue had been a temporary resident at the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Soldiers Home in Bath, NY, but he was not a permanent resident. I decided to contact NARA and check what records about him might be available in RG 15.

Here is the timeline of the request and the interactions for those considering contacting NARA about these records.

 

Preliminary

The first step was to go to the webpage for the Conference Session Schedule with Videos and Handouts.

Veterans Home Case Files were discussed on Day 1 in Session 2. The contact information for the NARA branch that holds the case files for your ancestor’s Veterans Home can be found in Handout 3 of 3.

From the handout, I learned that the National Archives at New York City holds the records for the Bath Home.

 

2/11/2017

I sent the first message with my request.

Dear Archivist,

The 2016 Virtual Genealogy Fair had a presentation about the records in RG 15 for the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Soldiers.

Do you have a case file from the Bath branch of the U.S.National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for:
Albert H Tingue

Please see the attached for his Bath registry entry from Ancestry.com.

Is there an online finding aid with an index for these files? I looked for access to a searchable index, but did not find one at:

Sample Case Files of Members, 1878–1933
Veterans Administration. National Homes Service. Bath Branch (Bath,New York). https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5821998

Sample Case Files of Veterans Temporarily at the Branch,1880–1912
Veterans Administration. National Homes Service. Bath Branch (Bath,New York). https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5822001

Thank you,
M. M. McMahon

The Bath registry entry from Ancestry.com was attached to the e-mail request.

 

2/11/2017

I received an automated response from the National Archives in New York City acknowledging my request.

2/17/2017

The Archivist sent an e-mail acknowledging my request.

NARA does have an index for the Sample Case Files of Members, but there was no entry for Tingue.

They do not have an index for the Sample Case Files of Veterans Temporarily at the Branch. The files are a single box, stored offsite, so the Archivist requested that the box be delivered to the New York office. She informed me that when the box arrived, she would search it for a file about Albert Tingue.

2/17/2017

I sent the Archivist an e-mail thanking her.

3 / 8 / 2017

The Archivist sent an e-mail with the results of her search of the box of Sample Case Files of Veterans Temporarily at the Branch. Unfortunately, it is a very small sample that contains a few files with names beginning with “A” or “B”. There was no file for Albert Tingue.

3 / 8 / 2017

I sent an e-mail thanking The Archivist for her efforts.

 

Less than a month after my initial request, an Archivist had searched an index for this ancestor, then had ordered and examined a box held offsite. If she had located a file, she would have informed me of the copying fees. Although NARA did not have retain any records for Albert H. Tingue in RG 15, it proved an interesting effort to learn more about this Record Group.

You can read more about the homes in the NARA Prolog article “Genealogy Notes: The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.”

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Family History Outing: Laws Railroad Museum

The Laws Railroad Museum is located outside of Bishop, CA. Certainly, the museum is of great genealogical interest to researchers who had family in the railroads in the early 1900s, and for those who had family in the area. There is much to learn for those who had family in the gold industry.

 

 

But the displays in the Pioneer Building are unexpected in a railroad museum. One of the displays held a well preserved, well displayed, interesting set of military uniforms, equipment and memorabilia.

 

 

There was a selection of uniforms, equipment and memorabilia from multiple wars.

 

 

There was a display of memorabilia from the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).

 

 

The WWI artifacts were from the 7th Regiment Michigan Calvary.

 

 

The WWI Soldier’s equipment was also included in the display.

 

 

The exhibit included a bag annotated with battle information and a victory medal.

 

 

Remember when you visit any regional museum to look for exhibits about the military.

 

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Family History Outing: U.S.S. Midway

If you have a U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps ancestor, the chances are he or she may have spent some time on an aircraft carrier. They might have been stationed on, landed on, refueled, resupplied or protected a carrier.

 

 

Touring the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego, CA, brought some of our family’s history to life.
Our family has some carrier history. In addition to having an uncle and cousin who served on carriers, my husband landed on one.

 

 

My husband was a Naval Aviator in the USMC, flying A-4s. His service included qualifying to land on carriers. My son had seen videos, pictures and models of the A-4. Seeing a real one on the deck of the Midway was much more real. It was a chance for my husband to show him around the plane and put context to the stories of getting into the airplane without a ladder.

 

 

The experience included standing on a flight deck and climbing up to stand on vulture’s row, and sitting in the chairs occupied by the air boss and commanding officer.

 

 

The launch officer signals when to fire the catapult to send an accelerating aircraft from the deck.

 

 

The hangar deck was full of airplanes; airplane cockpits and ejection seats to sit in; and exhibits to explore.

The carrier is a city at sea. In addition to the sleeping accommodations from the lowest ranked seaman to the captain, the walking tour takes you through the chapel, medical offices, laundry, galley, eating messes and gedunk (ship store).

My cousin died on July 29, 1967 in the fire on the U.S.S. Forrestal (CV-59). He was one of the fifty men who died in the berthing space immediately below the flight deck. They had participated in night operations and had been given permission to sleep in. He was assigned to VF-11. He died in the berthing spaces, while he slept. You can view a Virtual Wall: A Memorial to the men who died in the Forrestal fire .
As part of my systems engineer certificate training, the video of the fire on the carrier’s deck was required viewing.

 

 

This berthing can be contrasted with where the Captain sleeps.

 

 

 

Strategy to make the most of your trip:

  • Research your U.S. Navy ancestors
  • Know their ranks
  • Learn their jobs on the carrier
  • Visit all the locations, but be sure to identify and photograph typical berthing, where they ate and worked
  • Share what you learned with your family in pictures, a pdf document or web page

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