5 Tips to Start Researching WWI Veterans – Interview with Debra Dudek


Do you have ancestors that served in
World War one and you want to learn more about their military history well we’re
going to talk about that next howdy I’m Devon Noel Lee with family history
fanatics and I want to know more about World War one and research so I asked my
friend Debra Dudek dude with a k’ did tell me five tips on how to research in
the world war one time period there Debra what can we do well you’ve got
some really good options when you’ve got World War one a lot of people think
World War one genealogy is really complicated and difficult they may be
put off by that little fire that was at the National personnel records Center
back in 1973 there’s more than one fire yeah but it
was just 1890 whats up that and war of 1812 there’s a lot of fires going on if you
feel you’ve been fire bombed or fire blocked or there’s a fire wall in front
of you that’s just really not the case the number one thing that you want to
look for when researching World War one veteran’s is the first thing you want to
look at is your own family collection I know we hear it a lot I know a lot of
people say well I look through my family collection or my my relatives don’t have
anything so I really don’t know what to have I really don’t know where to start
even if it’s just a family story even if it’s grandpa served in World War one he
was an ambulance driver in France that’s all I had I had nothing else no ribbons
no no documents no photos no newspaper articles nothing and I started my search
from Grandpa Rhodes was an ambulance driver in France and he never talked
about his experience okay even if it’s just the one phrase or two phrases
that’s enough to start good the second thing you want to look at is the 1930
census okay in the column if it gets column 35 or 36 in the sunsets it will
ask you know way way way way over to the right yes yes so you really have to
scroll rolling over or take the little hand signal and and and go over there
okay you’re going to find is this a veteran in the acid of men out of
women which is unfortunate festive and you’re looking for women veterans or
female veterans there that 1930 census may not help you but but for for the
gentlemen they’ll ask you what veteran if you were a veteran what war did you
serve it and this is great not just for World War one but for civil war for
spanish-american war for the Philippine insurrection knife for the Mexican
border war that is going to be in there and it’ll say WW for World War so that’s a
great place to go so if you can leave that in there that’s a good indicator
but also be aware that people were being sent down for the little Mexican border
war that they had in 1916 with Pancho Villa I don’t know I know people might
not know that guy but there that was sort of the dry run for the United
States to learn how to use trucks in the desert not to use animals but to rely
on machine equipment and that would be this type of stuff that would get us
ready for World War was so modern warfare happened then that pre and what
I use the engagement or something actly I mean it really gave the US Army an
opportunity to test large trucks and large equipment out in the desert and a
place where you know you can’t feed animals if they don’t have water they
don’t have food but as long as you have a steady supply of gasoline you can make
you know you can make a trip go pretty far so you know it works out so they also learned how to redesign the bodies the
cars and the trucks and I can tell you all about that later but that’s how
we’re gonna talk about but that’s your footprint is to look but when you look
for that if you see focus you see MX that’s Mexican border war if you see WW
that’s world war okay some guys chose not to because they were
trying to forget their military experience but we can see a greater
majority of people who do put that w w in for okay that’s great okay tip number
three okay tip number three look for state resources I don’t know that’s
gonna sound weird yesterday people look at federal records for World War one as
being the end-all be-all but that’s not the case it was up to the states to
amass the men and get them kind of ready into the National Guard before they went
into Federal service so the state adjunct general’s office were the ones
who were in charge of making sure that people were registered for the draft
that were made sure that people’s paperwork was filled out so the states
kept records at the state level very cool it’s not as comprehensive as times
as you would think would be a federal military record but you at least get a
summary on that military card so they will tell you the enlistment date the
discharge date the major engagements somebody might have been in when they
left for France or when they left from Russia I think that’s another one that
people need to understand it’s multiple fronts in this war you know I so that
they are getting this and the beauty of it is women female veterans and these
cars these state service cards are not separated by gender yay well that’s
great and awful and same times sometimes because they’re not offering so if you
have somebody who’s maybe you’d think the name pearl is a woman’s name it’s
not it is Amy it’s a gentleman and a woman’s name from that time period so
just because you think somebody’s name is pearl does not necessarily think that
we’re looking at a female veteran on these military cards but at least you’ll
get them at the state level and a lot of these state cards have survived a lot of
rain being digitized a lot of them are becoming available online and if they’re
not available online you can get them from state archives from other stores
state libraries and and so there’s a growing collection of those cards and
they’re easily accessible a nice 10 bucks to your local see at archive and
they have that yeah that’s nice fantastic Wow
are you blown away and she’s has two tips okay tip number four tip number four
when you’re looking for women’s records remember that women are serving in the
military and that’s exceptionally important not just as nurses but they’re
serving as chauffeurs as typists they’re serving as longshoremen
so women’s military records mirror men’s records okay so if you have a female
ancestor preserved in the Army let’s say she was in the she was in the adjunct
general’s office she’s like a typist for the adjunct general’s office so she’s
going to have a state card so that state card is going to survive okay even
though if her federal record didn’t survive so same thing with men when
we’re looking at army army records their records may or may not survive but
they’re still going to have that state hard if you have a female ancestor who
served in the Navy or in the Marines because you could be in the Marines as a
woman again you’re doing you’re doing a lot of typing work a lot of chauffeur
work but you’re doing a lot of essential office duties or a lot of essential
duties behind the scenes they are still getting a full military record and those
survive intact just like the Navy and Marine records for gentlemen survive
intact so those records have at em getting from the same place they’re easy
to get from the National Archives Wow I can’t believe you have one mark I just
want to sit here and listen don’t you okay number five number five when when
the things get really really difficult let’s say that you you know you’re
hitting a brick wall your state doesn’t have those little state military cards
you’re not really getting a whole lot other than a couple of family family
stories another great place to look and it’s going to sound weird is if you have
a family story about Grandpa Rhodes went to France you can go to ancestry.com and
look at their US Army Transportation lists from 1910 to 1939 you will not
find this record set in their World War 1 area okay you’re going to the World
War 1 area this will not pop up in your search because it’s it’s before and
after four world and it’s transporting and it’s no it’s more like passenger
list exactly okay beauty of it is what’s on it passenger list it shows you all
the other guys who are in their unit it gives you their serial military service
number it gives them what unit they’re in it gives them the ship name and where
they’re going or where they’re coming from so you’re going to have two two
really great sets of information one from them leaving the United States and
going to France or to Russia is another one and the other one is coming back
from that foreign engagement back to the United States
and here’s another like side tip to that if you have an ancestry who died in
World War one and the family chose to have them re– interred in the United
States their bodies and their names will be on those ship manifests but at a
separate time coming back to be re-entered at home these are great tips
so Debra yes tell me about a case that you in World War one that you enjoyed
working on you know I probably ever I really understand that what really
stands out for me was actually working on the case of my great-great uncle who
served in the 86th Aereo squadron oh so those he was 16 years old so I’m not
gonna have a draft card because he’s not he’s losing it everybody says all the
good draft cards draft cards are a crapshoot really they’re they’re not
completely reliable because people have the opportunity to enlist and if you’re
underage you can Ward you enlist you’re not going
to have a draft card so that’s why you’re not finding it there okay so he
he enlists at the age of 16 says he’s 19 well he was five six two inch taller
than I and I I’m the person who didn’t get the tall genes in my family you know
so because he’s in the aerial squadron he was Fett had a fantastic experience
where he learned to fly by planes at a time where biplanes are basically wood
canvas and like a propeller and an engine like that’s what we put like a
very expensive piece of equipment in the hands of a 16 year old like it just gets
better so his daughter was still alive when I
met her when I was collecting information and when I went through my
grandmother’s rolodex of family that we knew she said oh yeah we’ve got pictures
of my dad we have pictures of uncle uncle George and like George Rhodes and
she’s like yeah I’m like that’s my mic record she’s like yeah we’ve got
pictures like like why don’t you why don’t you come on down and come see us
and they had they had a lot of great stuff from Uncle Frank so you can see
him looking like a 16 year old kid in these pictures I mean let’s be
abundantly clear uh-huh but it was really fantastic because he had left a
awful Frank had left a audio cassette of an interview that he just did and they
transferred it on CD for me and it was like a message in a bottle Wow it was
that it was like he was telling a story just for me now I still listen to that
because in the background when he’s trying to talk about his experiences
there’s this cat Gordon Wow Murr I need have to stop the cassette every once in
a while and go take care of the cat but it’s one of those things where you
do see the humanity and and you get to know people so much better because of
these experiences if I hadn’t had that ambition to go and do World War one
research I never would have discovered Uncle Frank so always think about it’s
not just about your direct ancestors and give those those collateral ancestors
and those people who can bring so much more to your story because my cousin had
the photographs of my great-grandfather now I have two wonderful photographs of
him and his little motor transport Corps uniform and he had art garfunkel hair so
there’s really big you know and and he’s just so handsome and it’s just so
wonderful to see people that you maybe didn’t know you know but your families
some talks about and that’s what’s wonderful about World War one you still
have family who remembers those ancestors who served so now’s the time
to start getting those memories of them before they’re they’re completely gone
well, Debra, I’ve learned so much from you if people want to get a hold of you
what’s the best way they can get in full defeat well umm you can always go to my
website which is www.hyken.com so yeah that’s available and if anybody
needs to help just let me know I’d be more than happy to help all awesome so
we’re going to put a link to they and the books and her website and her email
in the description so be sure to check that out if you have an additional
questions did you want to ask Debra be sure to put it in the comment section
and we’ll make sure she responds you

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