Guest blogger: Jenny Ashcraft
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. This Remembrance Day, we want to help you discover and honor the stories of the WWII soldiers in your family tree, and historical newspapers are a great way to research your WWII veterans. Here are some tips and tricks for researching your soldier’s story in Newspapers.com
- Begin your search by name. Just enter your soldier’s name in the search tab. You can narrow the results by refining dates, locations, or keywords. Maybe the local paper ran a story about your soldier enlisting providing valuable clues about which branch of the service your soldier served in. You might even learn what regiment or company he or she belonged to. Hometown newspapers often reported when a local soldier was injured or killed, home on leave, or discharged and often include a photograph. If multiple siblings served search each name.
- Search for specific battles. If you know your soldier fought in a specific battle, use that battle as your search keyword. You might not find your soldier specifically mentioned, but others provided first-hand accounts. These details will help you construct a story.
- Search by battalion, division, company, name of a Navy ship, etc. Did your soldier’s company/battalion have a famous nickname? Or do you know the name of the commanding officer? These searches can also provide valuable results. Newspapers tracked the movements of our soldiers and reported daily on skirmishes and battles. You can create a timeline of your soldier’s movements by tracking those stories.
- Search by date. If you have records showing your soldier was wounded or killed on a specific date, search for battles fought at that same time and place.
- Search by location. Do you know, for example, that your soldier was part of the Japanese occupation force? Use that in your search term. When we searched that term and filtered the dates from 1944-1947, it returned more than 300,000 search results.
- Personal interviews. Over the years, many of our WWII veterans have given lengthy interviews in newspapers. These first-hand narratives provide amazing insight into what our soldiers experienced. Expand your search beyond the war years, some of these soldiers did not share their story for decades.
- Search the names of fellow soldiers. Do you have records, photographs, or journals that mention the names of soldiers that served with your ancestor? Research those soldier’s names for more detail.
- Search post-war clubs and associations. Many soldiers joined clubs, fraternal organizations, and associations after returning from their service
- Search obituaries. Often the families of deceased soldiers shared details and stories of their military service in their obituaries, even decades later. Even if you are not related to this person, their obituary may shed light on your own ancestor’s service.
Preserving the story of our WWII veterans is a great way to honor their service, and from today until midnight ET November 11th, 2020, you can search for free on Newspapers.com and Fold3 just by registering. Don’t forget to share your finds in the comments below.