Women during World War II: Knitting & Sewing on the Home Front

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena writes about the knitting, sewing and quilting efforts of women on the home front during World War II to support the Red Cross and the war effort—and how local newspaper articles about these women provide good information for your family history searches.

Have you documented your family’s lives during World War II? With the upcoming 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day this Friday, it’s an important reminder to document those stories now before it’s too late. The Greatest Generation’s numbers are decreasing daily, memories are fading and family stories will soon be lost.

No doubt it’s important to research your military ancestors and what they were doing in the war to record your family history. Equally important is finding out about those that were left behind on the home front during wartime. Women, children and non-military men played important roles in the war by sacrificing through rationing of food and other material goods, working in industries that supported the war effort, taking over jobs for those who were fighting, and lending their time and talent to help those in need here and abroad.

Women filled many roles during World War II: they served in the military, they worked in industries like aircraft manufacturing and farming, and they also lent their skills to volunteer efforts. One such example is the sewing that was done for the Red Cross.

The American Red Cross, founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, coordinated various efforts during the World War II years that assisted service men and women, civilians, and war victims. They shipped supply packages and helped to ensure a blood supply for soldiers. (You can read more about the history of the American Red Cross on their website.) One way American women helped Red Cross efforts was through sewing and the raffling of finished projects to raise much-needed funds.

This knitting and sewing effort during World War II wasn’t a new idea. World War I saw women sewing and organizing groups that crafted materials to benefit soldiers and those who were victims of the war. Socks were knitted; pajamas, sheets and shirts were sewn; and quilts were pieced and quilted.

American women weren’t the only ones who sewed for the Red Cross. According to the book World War II Quilts by Sue Reich, Canadian women “began quiltmaking in support of the war in the late 1930s…Canada sent 25,000 quilts to Britain and Europe for the relief effort via the Red Cross.” She goes on to write that women attending Red Cross meetings presented a quilt block and a penny at each meeting, thus raising funds and creating quilts and blankets.*

Women’s benevolent sewing, knitting and quilting work was featured in their local newspapers. Meeting notices, project photos, and participants’ names were all documented for the community.

This newspaper article is about a Mexican woman in the United States who used her sewing skills to support her sons fighting in the U.S. Army.

Mexican Woman Makes, Sells Quilt to Aid Red Cross, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 12 February 1942

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 12 February 1942, page 9

The quilt Mrs. Maria Salazar made was originally going to be sold to finance her trip to Mexico to visit relatives, but she reconsidered and donated the money to support the efforts of the Red Cross and ultimately of her three sons fighting in the war. Her name, address and the names and ages of her sons are listed in the old newspaper article.

This historical newspaper article, also from Texas, details the amount of volunteer hours spent in the Red Cross Sewing Room. Products created included 446 woolen garments, 28 knitted garments and 2 quilts made by 616 women.

Red Cross Sewing Room Makes Fine Record, Richardson Echo newspaper article, 3 April 1942

Richardson Echo (Richardson, Texas), 3 April 1942, page 1

This Louisiana article makes note that a quilt was sent to the Red Cross by Mrs. Ada B. Brown and also lists the names of every woman in her sewing group.

A Lovely Quilt, State Times Advocate newspaper article 27 March 1942

State Times Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 27 March 1942, page 9

Military records are an important resource in researching your World War II military ancestors. To get a fuller picture of everyone’s involvement in the war effort, however, turn to newspapers—they are important in learning more about the local history of an area including the activities on the home front.

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* Reich, Sue. World War II Quilts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub, 2010. Page 138.

Mexican-American War Soldier Records & Military Casualty Lists

If your ancestors fought in the Mexican-American War (1846-48), then old newspapers are a great way to find records about them. Especially helpful are the troop and casualty lists many newspapers published during the war that can be found in our historical archives.

Newspapers routinely reported on our soldiers, as in this article from an 1847 newspaper.

Palmetto Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers in Mexican-American War, Charleston Courier newspaper article 24 June 1847

Charleston Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), 24 June 1847, page 2

In this old newspaper article we read about the Palmetto Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, which was encamped “near Jalapa, Mexico” during the Mexican-American War. This report provides troop strength totals and a military casualty list giving the names of the dead, the sick and the deserters.

Palmetto Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers in Mexican-American War, Charleston Courier newspaper article 24 June 1847

Charleston Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), 24 June 1847, page 2

This news report also gives a status update noting that the South Carolina soldiers were most recently on a reconnaissance mission to Alvarado and were not involved in the Battle of Cerro Gordo. At this important American victory General Winfield Scott, though outnumbered by the Mexican troops, caught Mexican General Santa Anna so totally by surprise that he had to flee—without his artificial leg! That prosthetic limb was confiscated and is still on display at the Illinois State Military Museum.

The New Orleans Picayune reported the captured trophy of Santa Anna’s cork leg in an 1847 newspaper article reprinted by the Alexandria Gazette.

A Trophy--Santa Anna's Cork Leg, Alexandria Gazette newspaper article 03 June 1847

Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia), 3 June 1847, page 2

Dig into GenealogyBank’s online historical newspaper archives today to find out more about your Mexican-American War military ancestors and discover the legendary stories of our country’s colorful history.

Earthquake! Newspapers Record Destruction in California History

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena shows how historical newspapers provide excellent coverage of disasters such as earthquakes, including detailed casualty lists helpful to genealogists.

Living in California as I do, earthquakes are a fact of life. Because of their suddenness and intensity, earthquakes can be a terrifying event to experience. When the shaking begins your mind starts racing, wondering when the earthquake will stop. Seconds feel like minutes. An automatic reaction to an earthquake is to run to safety. I remember during one trembler a few years ago yelling to my kids not to run down the stairs. Earthquakes can kill—so too can the panicked actions of those experiencing the earthquake.

It goes without saying that our ancestors experienced devastating natural disasters as well. My great-grandmother used to talk of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake when all of her china was broken. That 6.4 (on the Richter scale) earthquake cost millions of dollars in damage and killed more than 100 people. My guess is it must have been a terrifying experience for a young married woman with an 8-year-old child, as my great-grandmother was at the time. She was lucky that her only loss was the china.

When thinking of historic California earthquakes, many people think of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The destruction caused by that earthquake and the resulting fires has been the subject of books, documentaries, and vintage photos. But that earthquake wasn’t the only one that resulted in heavy destruction for a California city. Lone Pine, a little town in the Eastern Sierra region of California, experienced an earthquake in 1872 so strong that it almost leveled the entire town.

It is easy to understand why the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (both believed to have measured over 7.0 on the Richter scale) caused so much damage in and around California. 19th century buildings in the West, mostly wood and brick structures, were not forgiving when the earth shook. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, that March 1872 earthquake destroyed 52 out of 59 homes and killed 27 people in the city of Lone Pine. The earthquake was felt as far south as San Diego and as far east as Elko, Nevada.

Historical newspapers give us a sense of what the resulting chaos was like when Lone Pine residents were rudely awakened at 2:35 that March morning. The Inyo Independent newspaper quoted one resident as yelling to his wife during the earthquake: “Get up; hell’s broke loose!” The newspaper’s front page headline for March 30 screamed: “HORRORS!! Appalling Times! EARTHQUAKES. Awful Loss of Life! 24 People Killed! Earth Opens! Houses Prostrated!!” Some people were crushed by the debris of their collapsing houses as they lay in their bed. This earthquake and the inevitable aftershocks must have made it seem like the world was ending.

The 1872 Lone Pine earthquake was reported in newspapers across the country. These earthquake reports reveal the sense of shock felt at the time of the natural disasters and also provide genealogists with practical information like causality lists.

For example this historical San Francisco newspaper article, reprinted by a New York paper, provides lists of the dead and the injured.

The Earthquake in California, New York Herald newspaper article 9 April 1872

New York Herald (New York, New York), 9 April 1872, page 7

The list of fatalities in this historical newspaper article also reports where the victims were from originally:

List of the Killed (in 1872 earthquake), New York Herald newspaper article 9 April 1872

New York Herald (New York, New York), 9 April 1872, page 7

Survivors of this terrifying California earthquake buried their loved ones. Earthquake victims without family members, mostly immigrants, were buried in a mass grave. The Inyo Independent reported that “a large grave was prepared on a little rise north of town. In this grave all of foreign birth were consigned the next day. Fifteen coffins numbered and contained sixteen bodies were all deposited in one huge grave.” Catholic and Protestant rites were said at the burial. A modern memorial marks the mass grave and lists the known names. For the victims whose names were not known, it says “…of French, Irish, Chilean, Mexican & Native American ancestry are known but to God.”

photograph of the historical marker for the 1872 Lone Pine, California, earthquake

1872 Earthquake Historical Marker. Lone Pine, California. © 2012 David Ortega

To read more about the history of the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake, consult the Historic Earthquakes page of the United States Geological Survey and visit GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives.

 

 

1883 U.S. Government Military Pension List Online

GenealogyBank is pleased to announce that it has the five-volume List of Pensioners-1883 online, to help with your family history research. These U.S. federal government military pension records are a valuable genealogy resource actively used by genealogists to trace family lineage. List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883; giving the name of each pensioner, the cause for which pensioned, the post office address, the rate of pension per month, and the date of original allowance. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1883. Senate Document. Serial Set Vol. No. 2078, Session Vol. No. 5; Report: S.Exec.Doc. 84 pt. 1-5.

The List of Pensioners-1883 lists the pensioners by U.S. state and county. Volume 5 includes the lists of pensioners that lived overseas.

List of Pensioners on the Roll. January 1, 1883…Vol. 5, page 638.

Each military pension record entry gives:
· Name of pensioner
· Pension certificate number
· Date of the original pension
· Reasons why the pensioner received the pension
· The monthly pension payment
· U.S. Post Office where the pensioner receives their mail

Types of military pension records included:
· Veteran disability pension records
· Army pension records
· Navy pension records
· War widows pension records
· War orphans pension records

Genealogy Tip: This is a crucial genealogical resource for identifying pensioners from all American wars still living in 1883 and it pinpoints where they were living—anywhere in the U.S. or around the world. This extensive U.S. military pension list includes pensioners from the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and more—making it easier to trace your veteran ancestors and relatives who received survivor benefits.

Volume One
Connecticut; District of Columbia; Maine; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Rhode Island; Vermont

Volume Two
New York; Pennsylvania

Volume Three
Illinois; Iowa; Ohio

Volume Four
Alaska; Arizona; California; Colorado; Dakota; Idaho; Indiana; Kansas; Michigan; Minnesota; Montana; Nebraska; Indian Territory (Oklahoma); Nevada; New Mexico; Oregon; Utah; Washington; Wisconsin; Wyoming

Volume Five
Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Mississippi; Missouri; North Carolina; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Virginia; West Virginia

Countries of the World, including Hawaii (which was listed as the “Sandwich Islands.”)

Africa; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Denmark; England; France; Germany; Ireland; Italy; Madeira Island (Portugal); Malta; Mauritius; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Peru; Romania; Russia; Scotland; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Wales; West Indies; Foreign Address Unknown

Explore the List of Pensioners-1883 online at GenealogyBank and uncover your family’s past today!

Chicago, IL Key Genealogy Resources Online – Handy Guide

Chicago Genealogy Resources.
Bookmark and save this page – so you may easily refer to it often.
Your handy guide to the sources you will actually use to build your family tree.


Birth Certificates – 1878-1922
FamilySearch Pilot
Birth Registers – 1871-1915
FamilySearch Pilot

Census
1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920
1850 – Mortality, 1850 – Slave Schedule
FamilySearch Pilot

City Directory
1844; 1855; 1856; 1863-1864

Deaths – pre 1916. Illinois Statewide Index
Illinois State Archives
Deaths 1916-1950. Illinois Statewide Index
Illinois State Archives

Deaths 1937-Present. SSDI

Land Records – Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales
Illinois State Archives

Marriage Records – 1871-1920. Chicago, IL
FamilySearch Pilot
Marriage Records – 1763-1900. Illnois Statewide Index
Illinois State Archives

Military – WWII Draft Registration Cards
FamilySearch Pilot

Illinois State Archives- Military Database Projects
Illinois Veterans’ History Project
Illinois War of 1812 Veterans
Illinois Winnebago War Veterans
Illinois Black Hawk War Veterans
Illinois Mexican War Veterans
Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls
Illinois Civil War Veterans Serving in the U.S. Navy
Illinois Civil War Veterans of Missouri Units
Illinois Spanish–American War Veterans
Database of the 1929 Illinois Roll of Honor
Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home Residents

Newspapers: 1854 – Today
Bags & Baggage. (Chicago, IL) 1937-1943
Bulletin. (Chicago, IL) 1968-1969
Central South Sider. (Chicago, IL) 1929
Chicago Courier. (Chicago, IL) 1974-1975
Chicago Herald. (Chicago, IL) 1890-1891
Chicago Metro News. (Chicago, IL) 1973-1990
Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago, IL) 1/1/1986-Current
Chicago Times. (Chicago, IL) 1854-1888
Chicago Tribune. (Chicago, IL) 1/1/1985-Current
Chicago World. (Chicago, IL) 1925-1935
Daily Inter Ocean. (Chicago, IL) 1874-1896
Daily Southtown (Chicago, IL) 7/31/2004-11/17/2007
Illinois Sentinel. (Chicago, IL) 1937
Inter Ocean. (Chicago, IL) 1874-1896
Latin Times. (Chicago, IL) 1868-1975
Metropolitan Post. (Chicago, IL) 1938-1939
Noticia Mundial. (Chicago, IL) 1927-1928
Olivet Baptist Church Herald. (Chicago, IL) 1936
Pomeroy’s Democrat. (Chicago, IL) 1869-1879
Skyline (Chicago, IL) 12/8/2005-12/6/2007
Sol de Chicago. (Chicago, IL) 1960
SouthtownStar (Chicago, IL) 11/18/2007-Current
Sunday Times. (Chicago, IL) 1869-1876
Vida Latina. (Chicago, IL) 1952-1963
Vorbote. (Chicago, IL) 1874-1875

Slave Records
Database of Illinois Servitude and Emancipation Records
Illinois State Archives

Daily New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM) newspaper 1871-1887

GenealogyBank has added the Daily New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM) 1871-1887.

GenealogyBank has over 3,800 newspapers from all 50 States, going from 1690 to Today.

Search the Daily New Mexican for specific obituaries, marriage or birth announcements as well as news articles of the day.
I used to live in New Mexico and was interested to see the details avialable in the newspaper.

This obituary for Gentry Floyd caught my attention. The 1870 Census listed a “John” Floyd – living in Tierra Amarilla, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. It gives his age as 80 and states that he was born in Kentucky. (FamilySearchLabs.org)

This could be our “Gentry” Floyd. His obituary gives more details of his life and death.

That he was born in 1798 in Christian County, Kentucky; joined the Christian Church and was baptized by Alexander Campbell who founded that church. That he taught school at the Indian Pueblo.

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FamilySearch Indexing now available in Spanish

FamilySearch’s indexing system is now available in the Spanish language, giving Spanish speakers easier access to an enormous collection of family history resources.

Familysearch, a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, contains the world’s largest repository of genealogical records.

For longtime family history buffs, making the indexing process accessible in Spanish will make more of the Spanish language microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City available to genealogists.

Having the indexing system available in Spanish also gives volunteers who speak Spanish the opportunity to add indexing information to the Internet, opening up this opportunity to genealogists in Spanish-speaking countries.

Even a novice genealogist can register at familysearch.org and, after completing a simple tutorial, participate in the indexing process.

Designed for ease and efficiency, the indexing software allows indexing to be processed on a personal computer at home or any other location. Indexing projects are downloaded on the computer, and the significant data is entered in a tabbed format.

And because all of the information and instructions are now in Spanish, users are not required to speak English.

Numerous Spanish projects, including the 1930 Mexican Census, the 1869 Argentina Census and some church records from Spain and Venezuela, are currently available for online indexing.



Illustration: A page from the 1869 census of Argentina being indexed by Spanish-speaking volunteers at FamilySearch indexing. © 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

According to Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for FamilySearch, the time commitment to work on indexing is not significant. “A seasoned indexer could complete a census page in about 15 minutes, while a newcomer may take twice that long,” Nauta explained. “Volunteers may also work in short segments, saving their work online as they go. If they are unable to finish, the work is automatically assigned to another indexer, so not even 10 minutes of work would be wasted. We’ll take any and every effort,” he concluded.

More Birth, Marriage & Death Records Go Online


Volunteers working at FamilySearchLabs are digitizing microfilm and original vital records and putting them online. (Photo, courtesy: Newsroom.lds.org)

Today I see that they have added records for:

MICHIGAN
Michigan Birth Records 1867-1902 – Complete – includes digital images of the original documents

Michigan Death Records 1867 to 1897 – Complete – includes digital images of the original documents

WEST VIRGINIA
West Virginia Births 1853-1930 – 36% complete – includes digital images of the original documents
West Virginia Marriages 1853-1970 – 36% complete – includes digital images of the original documents
West Virginia Deaths 1853-1970 – 50% complete – includes digital images of the original documents

GERMANY and MEXICO
In addition to that FamilySearchLabs has put up German & Mexican baptismal & marriage registers for 1700-1900. These two resources are text only and give the citation for the original document but not the digital page images.

This is great news!

FamilySearchLabs is keeping up a brisk pace of uploading genealogical records and images.
GenealogyBank adds 4 million articles and records each month. To see what has been added this month click here.

GenealogyBank now has over 227 million records and documents – that’s over 1 billion names. Give it a try now – search and see what GenealogyBank has on your ancestors.