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.













Take a Tour: NARA WWI Page

For the centennial of the U.S. entering WWI, NARA launched a new portal page for WWI Research.



The Genealogy Resources takes you to a page where you can start Researching Individuals in WWI Records. (Keep that in mind, and return to it after your tour of this page.)

Keep scrolling to find a section where you can choose from several World War I Topics.



Scroll even farther down for a World War I Timeline, and More Resources.

Explore the page and resources.

When you are ready to start your own research, a good place to start is NARA’s webpage Researching Individuals in WWI Records. A good resource is an article from NARA’s Prolog publication: An Overview of Records at the National Archives Relating to Military Service.






3 Mother’s Day Things To Do

No matter how many mothers you study about in history, to you the most famous Mother will probably be your own. There is no time like the present to tap her repository of genealogical information. If that is not possible, tap into your and other’s store of genealogical memories about her.


1. Take this time to interview your Mother

Bring a recorder, or use your iPhone, to record a chat with your Mom this Mother’s Day. Alternately, if you live too far away for a visit, record your phone call. (Always make sure Mom agrees to this.)

Undoubtedly your Mother will be thinking of her Mother on this day, so this might be a good time to talk about the women in your family and extract the information that is at the forefront of your mind.

If this is not an option for you, consider interviewing your siblings or other family members about your Mom. Even if you grew up in the same home, with the same parents, family members may have quite different recollections about the family’s history.


2. Transcribe the interview with your Mother

Whether the interview is new or old, take the time to type out the words that passed between you.

When I began to pursue genealogy in earnest, my son was a toddler. Taking notes proved to be too difficult, so I recorded conversations with my Mom about her family as well as what she knew about my late Father’s people. My Mom passed away soon after that, so these recordings have been a treasure to me, both to remind me of the facts and to hear her voice.

At the time, I made sure that the electronic files were backed up. Although it was a long while before I was ready to listen to them, they contained a number of key facts to unlock some mysteries about her family history as well as my Father’s childhood.

Transcribing the conversations will take time, but having the words on a page is worth the effort. You can print out (or photocopy) the transcriptions. You can also annotate the transcriptions to include full names, places and corrections to the information generated in the conversation.


3. Do a Mother’s Day Worksheet about your Mother

Click this link to download the custom worksheet from a A Week Of Genealogy to capture information about your Mom. Call and ask her the answers. Or compare your recollections with hers. Better yet, wouldn’t it be great to get her to do a sheet about her Mother? Or ask your Grandmother to do one about her Mother? How about getting your children to do one about you (or their Mother)?

This form is in Word format, so you can print it out to write in it or type your answers. Feel free to attach more pages if you have more memories about the items on the sheet. If you are working on the form on your computer, just keep typing. If you use the paper copy, be sure to note that the answers are continued on additional pages.

This post is dedicated to Susan A., who is one of those great Moms.

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.

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.



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.



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.



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


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.


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.”












RootsTech 2017 Videos and Syllabi

Rootstech 2017 has come and gone, but we can all still enjoy it!

Have you wanted to watch the videos and download the syllabi from RootsTech 2017? Whether or not you attended this year’s RootsTech, watching the videos is educational and the syllabi can be a great resource.

To watch the videos for each day of RootsTech, go to:





You can also switch between the days by using the menu in the upper right corner of the webpage.

(2016 videos can be found at: https://www.rootstech.org/videos.)

The syllabi are not posted on the RootsTech website; you will need to use an app to access them. The good news is that will stay available indefinitely on that app. The better news is that you can view the app on a webpage: http://app.core-apps.com/rootstech2017/



Click on Conference Schedule. From there, you can browse by Day or by Track.



After you select the way you want to view the sessions, you will see the lists of sessions.

Look at the star next to the title of the class. If there is a PDF icon to the right of the star, then the speaker did provide a syllabus for the class.



Click on the arrow to the right to view the information for the session and scroll to the bottom. At the bottom is a Resources section, you will see the “Handouts”. Click on the arrow next to Handouts to view the titles of the handouts.



Click on the title and the PDF opens up. You can read, print or save the handout (syllabus).



If there is more than one handout, use the browser’s back arrow to repeat the process, clicking on the second handout.



When I wrote to the folks at RootTech tech support, they responded that the handouts (syllabi) will be posted online soon. But you do not have to wait until they are!