The World War II Research and Writing Center Website

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With the release of the British 1939 Register at the FindMyPast website, we’re once again discussing WWII research. When I got involved in genealogy forty years ago, WWII was a rather recent occurrence and many of us just skipped right over it while doing our research. Now – with 70 years separating us since the war, genealogists are scrambling to locate information, and in some cases interview the few remaining WWII veterans. Many of us are writing about what took place during the war years.

Turning to American WWII research, my friend, Jennifer Holik, has a website that is of help to anyone wishing to research and write about their WWII ancestor. Her site includes a number of wonderful resource pages. From the home page, click on any of the horizontally rotating illustrations. They are:

Jennifer’s website also includes the following pages:

News
Consulting
Appearances
My Books Good stuff!
Research Another place to click for the resources listed above.
Stories
Writing This includes themes, prompts, books, websites, and more!
Research Collective People who perform WWII research on specific branches or theaters of war.

I am using the website and its resources to help in my own research. I highly recommend it to my own readers.

The Holocaust Center for Humanity Opens in Seattle

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A Holocaust museum has opened in the Pacific Northwest. According to the website, it’s called The Henry and Sandra Friedman Holocaust Center for Humanity, and is located at 2045 2nd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121. For those familiar with downtown Seattle, that’s the corner of 2nd Avenue and Lenora. I first heard about the center a couple days ago while making a run to the bindery, which is located in Seattle. If you live in the area, I’m sure a visit would be worthwhile.

See their website at: http://www.holocaustcenterseattle.org/

The following teaser is from an article posted at the KIRO Television website:

SEATTLE — At the Holocaust Center for Humanity are images that are by now familiar to anyone who has studied the Holocaust and World War II: the now tattered shoes, the drab sameness of their uniforms, the haunting faces of those who never made it out alive.

For Peter Metzelaar, they are the images of his childhood.

“The fear—knowing I’m being hunted,” reminisced Metzelaar. “Is that this time they’re going to get me?”

At the museum is a photograph of him in kindergarten—in his native Amsterdam.

The Star of David is sewn into his clothes, an indication that the persecution of Jews had begun.

A horror he survived, he says, by hiding.

“Nobody in my family came back,” said Metzelaar. “Only my mother and I survived.”

Read the full article.

Genealogy Research Room Set for the Whipple Company Store, Scarbro, West Virginia

The following teaser is from an article by Sarah Plummer posted July 28, 2015 at the Register-Herald website:

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SCARBRO [West Virginia]— Travelers and tourists to the area will soon have better access to maps, obituaries, articles and photographs associated with coal mining communities of Fayette and Raleigh counties at the Whipple Company Store and Appalachian Heritage Museum in Scarbro.

Owners’ son Victor Mender said those who visit and tour the store often share memories of coal camps and are descended from area coal miners. Many are able to locate photos of their relatives at the store.

Because of constant interest in genealogical research, the owners have converted the old company butcher shop within the store into a room for genealogical research.

“We’ve had so many people over the years come in and sit on stairs trying to hold maps and find photos of their relatives, we wanted to turn this room into a place where they can roll out maps and see really see where the coal mine was in relation to their great-grandfather’s coal camp house,” Mender explained. “It’s really neat to see people research their family history and see them point out their great-grandfather and grandfather in pictures.

Read the full article.

New York State Museum Announces Gallery Renovation Project

The following is from a New York State Press Release:

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Albany, New York: 06/15/2015 – Plan Calls for 35,000 Square Feet of New Exhibitions; 4-year Phased Timeline

The New York State Board of Regents today reviewed a multi-year renovation plan for the New York State Museum’s exhibition galleries. The master plan calls for 35,000 square feet of new exhibitions, a changeable wall system and new interactive technology and media. A full master plan of the renovation project, including artist renderings and floor plans, is available here: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/information/aboutus/renewal.html.

“The New York State Museum is an educational treasure for all New Yorkers,” said New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch. “The renovated galleries will tell the stories of New York State’s history in ways they have never been told before. New York State is the most important state in the nation – historically, scientifically and culturally. And the Museum’s new exhibition galleries will tell that story using our own world-class collections and the extraordinary collections of museums across the state.”

The master plan unveiled today outlines the vision and goals for the new galleries and the overall approach for the renovation project. The goal of the renovation is to share New York State’s natural, cultural and human history in an integrated, relevant, and memorable way. New exhibitions will link to existing exhibitions, such as the World Trade Center exhibition, the Cohoes Mastodon and Native Peoples of New York Hall.

The new galleries will be developed under a conceptual approach of “New York Stories” – with every exhibition telling the stories of the state in a diverse and compelling way. The new galleries will address the following themes:

  • A State of Change: demonstrates New York State’s geographic and geological change through natural and human impact.
  • Politics and Prose: presents New York State as a place of debate, dialogue and documentation.
  • Emergence of a State: defines New York State through its people, places and events.
  • Culture, Community and Context: explores New York State’s people, cities, and culture through topics such as art, music, architecture and beliefs.
  • New York in 100 Objects: an exhibition of 100 objects, including objects borrowed from museums across the state, that represents the history of New York.

“The State Museum master plan provides a vision for revitalizing areas of the Museum and improving visitor experience,” said Regent Roger Tilles, Chair of the Regents Committee on Cultural Education. “The new exhibitions will integrate stories of science, history and culture and deliver an outstanding educational experience for all visitors – from children to adults.”

“Every year, the New York State Museum attracts and educates hundreds of thousands of visitors, including tens of thousands of students across the state,” said Acting State Education Commissioner Beth Berlin. “The Museum is embarking on a multi-year renovation project that will refresh existing exhibitions and create new galleries. Those new exhibitions and galleries will give visitors a renewed experience at the Museum. Every visitor will leave with a greater understanding of the natural, cultural and human history of the Empire State.”

“For nearly 180 years, the New York State Museum has been a symbol of inquiry, discovery and education for all New Yorkers,” said New York State Museum Director Mark Schaming. “Today, we are excited to unveil our master plan and begin an important renovation project that will introduce new and diverse stories never told before and preserve New York’s rich historical, cultural and scientific legacies. We thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for the funding for this important project that will enhance visitor experience at the Museum.”

The renovation is funded through a $14 million New York State capital bond item. With the master plan complete, the next stage is the exhibition design process. The renovation is expected to occur over a four-year timeline and will be completed in multiple phases. The Museum will remain open throughout the project, although certain gallery spaces will be closed temporarily while undergoing renovation.

The Museum encourages the public to participate in the renovation project by submitting their suggestions and feedback to museuminfo@nysed.gov. In addition, the Museum will provide regular project updates through the Museum’s website, social media accounts, and email newsletter.

The New York State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Read more at the Times-Union blog.

Nederland, Texas, Museum Maintenance Done

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The following teaser is from the May 5, 2015 Port Arthur News.

NEDERLAND [Texas]— The city has been working to reclaim part of its roots since the fall.

Nederland City Manager Chris Duque said there is no better permanent homage to the city’s rich Dutch and French ancestry than the Heritage Museums on Boston Avenue.

“Since last fall, we’ve been making an effort to add new elements to the city that highlight our French and Dutch heritage,” Duque said, referring to the new “Welkom” to Nederland sign and decorative street posts with both the historical and current names of the roads. “But our Heritage Museums — the windmill, especially — (are) essential to the city’s identity.”

At the beginning of the year, Duque said, the city realized the iconic Windmolen museum — a 40-feet high Dutch windmill replica that houses three floors of artifacts — and the picturesque La Masion Acadienne museum — a Cajun French house built in honor of the influx of of French settlers that arrived in Nederland by way of Louisiana — were in need of small, but necessary maintenance repairs.

Read the full article.

Philyaw Family Bible Donated to the Onslow County Museum

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More than a century ago, near Comfort, John Robert Philyaw wrote his name in his Bible.

He added his second wife’s name, Susan Jones Philyaw, and as they were born, the names of their 15 children.

Today, the 98 grandchildren, at least 108 great-grandchildren and countless other relatives who claim John Robert Philyaw as their ancestor are using that Bible, among other genealogical tools, to fill in their family tree…

Recently, Fowler and other Philyaws donated the Bible to the Onslow County Museum, where it is being kept in an acid-free box before on display for about a year before it goes into climate controlled archives, according to Patricia Hughey, Onslow County Museum collections manager.

For more information on the what resources are available for genealogical research at the Onslow County Museum, visit onslowcountync.gov/museum or call 910-324-5008.

Read the full article.

Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox Opens Veteran’s Exhibit

The following excerpt is from an excellent article by Katrina Koerting, published in the March 7, 2014 edition of newsadvance.com.

Visitors browse artifacts on display in the new exhibit at the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox, Va., March 6, 2014. (Photo by Parker Michels-Boyce/The News & Advance)
Visitors browse artifacts on display in the new exhibit at the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox, Va., March 6, 2014. (Photo by Parker Michels-Boyce/The News & Advance)

Many people can recite facts about battles or describe the cultural environment during the Civil War, but not as much is shared about the men after the war.

These are the stories told in the first new exhibit at the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox. The exhibit, entitled, “When Johnny Came Marching Home: Veterans in the Postwar South,” shows visitors what the veterans faced after returning home, touching on the human cost of war, trying to reconcile what happened and the legacy the veterans and their descendants left behind.

“This is somewhat of a universal story to tell,” exhibit historian John Coski said.

This exhibit depicts what it was like for veterans during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Linda Lipscomb, the site’s director, said.

Read the full article.

North Dakota Heritage Center Galleries to Open Mid-Spring

The following excerpt is an article by Nick Smith, posted in the March 6, 2014 edition of bismarcktribune.com

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BISMARCK, N.D. — A date for the opening of two of the three new North Dakota Heritage Center galleries hasn’t yet been finalized but officials overseeing the expansion project are expecting it to take place in mid-spring.

State Historical Society of North Dakota officials met Thursday to inform some of the society’s board members of the progress on the $51.7 million, 97,000-square-foot expansion project.

The first gallery has been installed and is called the Adaptation Gallery. It is centered on ancient North Dakota millions of years ago and will include dinosaur skeletons.

Set to open along with it is the second gallery, called the Innovation Gallery. It spans the era from the last ice age about 13,000 years ago through the year 1860.

Johnson said the Inspiration Gallery will be a post-1860 exhibit divided into several themes including agriculture, cultures, and industry and energy.

The museum has been closed since fall 2012. During construction, the state historical society and foundation offices, the state archives and museum store have remained open.

Read the full article.

Also see: http://www.history.nd.gov/exhibits/.

Farmers’ Castle Museum Education Center in Belpre, Ohio Expected to be Complete by Spring

Workers with area utility companies installed lines for the new addition to the Farmers’ Castle Museum Education Center within the last few weeks. Photo by Pamela Brust
Workers with area utility companies installed lines for the new addition to the Farmers’ Castle Museum Education Center within the last few weeks. Photo by Pamela Brust

The following excerpt is from an article by Pamela Brust, posted in the Febraruy 16, 2014 edition of newsandsentinel.com.

BELPRE [Ohio]– The new Collections Preservation addition to the Farmers’ Castle Museum Education Center is expected to be complete by spring.

“We are very pleased with the progress. Remaining work is all interior, pretty much everything outside is done,” said Nancy Sams, president of the Belpre Historical Society.

Society volunteers operate the nonprofit museum at 509 Ridge St. Construction on the new 50-by-50 foot addition began in September.

The remaining work includes installation of a staircase handrail, doors and carpet and painting. An upstairs space will be used as a loft and storage area. The walk-in level will house an office, mens’ and women’s restrooms and a large open exhibit area…

There is also genealogy information in the resource center with local family histories, diaries, heritage homes, burial records and other information for those searching for ancestors.

Read the full article.

Danish Immigrant Museum Changes its Name

Word has been received that the Danish Immigrant Museum of Elk Horn Iowa has changed its name to Museum of Danish America.
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They have stated that while their name is changing, their mission will still the same. The only national institution of its kind with a professionally-trained curatorial staff, The museum has a 30 year legacy of preserving and sharing Danish and American cultural experiences.

Some of their past exhibits include:

  • Church Basements and Children’s Homes: Danish-American Missions Here and Abroad
  • Across Oceans, Across Time, Across Generations
  • Across Oceans: Our Maritime Collection
  • Americans at Work & at Play – A Study of Danish Influences in Everyday Life
  • Quilting Family History
  • A Celebration of Heritage – Danish Folk Costumes in America
  • Danes on the Northern Plains – Patterns of Settlement in the Dakotas, Montana & Wyoming

Visit them at:

2212 Washington Street
Elk Horn, Iowa 51531

Or

Visit their Web site to learn more.
http://www.danishmuseum.org/

Museum of Danish America also has a Genealogy Center Located at:

4210 Main Street
PO Box 249
Elk Horn, Iowa 51531-0249
712.764.7008

Email:
Genealogical inquiries:
(English) genealogy@danishmuseum.org
(dansk) librarian@danishmuseum.org

Genealogy Center staff and volunteers are happy to assist visitors to the museum with their family history research, but if you wish research assistance they strongly urge you to make an appointment in advance.

Resources at the Genealogy Center include:

  • Museum of Danish America Wall of Honor files
  • Danish immigrant biographical files
  • Danish-American obituary collections
  • Over 800 family histories, biographies and memoirs of Danish immigrants
  • Copenhagen Police Emigration index (1868-1911)
  • Danish Brotherhood in America lodge records (1881-1995) and death index (1916-1995)
  • Danish maps, gazetteers and local histories
  • Bien (newspaper), 1893-present
  • The Danish Pioneer (newspaper), 2000-
  • Scandinaviens Stjerne (newspaper), 1851-1900
  • Many Danish-American organizational newsletters
  • HeritageQuest Online™
  • Ancestry LibraryEdition™
  • Select Iowa Lutheran church records
  • Cemetery transcriptions
  • Indexes to Elk Horn-Kimballton newspapers
  • Microfilmed and print Iowa county histories
  • General genealogical reference materials
  • Handouts for getting started and suggested research resources
  • Internet workstations and wireless access
  • EmibasTM Swedish emigration database

Kentucky Historical Society Announces Partnership with the Smithsonian Institution

The following teaser is from the July 1, 2013 edition of bizjournals.com:
I Love KY History

The Kentucky Historical Society has struck a new partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.

An affiliation with the Smithsonian will provide KHS with such opportunities as access to artifacts and traveling exhibitions. Smithsonian collections includes more than 136 million objects.

Read the full article.

Changes to Summer Hours at the Smithsonian Institution & the National Archives

The following excerpt is from the Washington Post:

Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives will notice changes to summer hours and exhibitions as of May. The Smithsonian will begin closing certain galleries on a rolling basis come May 1 because of across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. The National Archives, which held extended summer hours in the past, will maintain its regular schedule of 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The leaders of the Smithsonian, the National Park Service and the National Archives and Records Administration testified before Congress on Tuesday about the effects of the budget cuts. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform questioned the directors about how their agencies are handling the approximately 5 percent reduction and how it might affect the public.

Read the full article.

Photography and the American Civil War – an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The following teaser is from an article in the April 4, 2013 edition of the New York Times:

Among the most arresting images in “Photography and the American Civil War,” a magisterial exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is “A Burial Party, Cold Harbor, Virginia, April 1865” by John Reekie. The remains of five soldiers are piled on a stretcher in the foreground. Their flesh is almost gone, leaving rags, boots and bones; their bleached skulls are roughly arranged in a horizontal line. In the background four African-American soldiers dig graves for the dead. Posing for the camera, a fifth black man sits next to the stretcher, his head in line with the white skulls.

If this were a painted image, it could be an allegory of the end of slavery. That it is a photograph makes a big difference. The men, dead and alive, were certainly real, and so were the circumstances that brought them to this moment. Nevertheless the photographer has altered history. The man in the foreground is posing in a way that he would be unlikely to have done otherwise. How much else was changed? Did Reekie find the skulls as they are in his picture, or was it his idea to arrange them thus to line up with a living man’s head? …

“Photography and the American Civil War” continues through Sept. 2 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; (212) 535-7710, metmuseum.org.

Read the full article.

The following is from the Met’s website:

More than two hundred of the finest and most poignant photographs of the American Civil War have been brought together for this landmark exhibition. Through examples drawn from the Metropolitan’s celebrated holdings of this material, complemented by important loans from public and private collections, the exhibition will examine the evolving role of the camera during the nation’s bloodiest war. The “War between the States” was the great test of the young Republic’s commitment to its founding precepts; it was also a watershed in photographic history. The camera recorded from beginning to end the heartbreaking narrative of the epic four-year war (1861–1865) in which 750,000 lives were lost. This traveling exhibition will explore, through photography, the full pathos of the brutal conflict that, after 150 years, still looms large in the American public’s imagination.

Read more…

Kearney, Nebraska’s Trails & Rails Museum to Build a Family History Center


The Trails & Rails Museum in Kearney, Nebraska has announced plans to build a $3.1 million family history center meant to house artifacts, offices, space for traveling exhibits, a conference room and a gift shop on adjacent land.

The museum board of directors would like to break ground in September and open the building to the public in early 2014. It is excepted that local folks will want to donate family their history, and artifacts.

Read more about the project.

Ellis Island Still Closed After Suffering 59 Million $ in Damage Due to Hurricane Sandy

The following excerpt is from an article by Seth Berkman published in the January 2, 2012 Jewish Daily Forward.

Ellis Island, the historic point of arrival in the United States for more than 12 million European immigrants, has been closed since Hurricane Sandy hit New York Harbor on October 29, and the damage to its museum and other landmark structures will cost millions in repair expenses and lost income.

The National Park Service, which manages the Statue of Liberty National Monument, of which Ellis Island is a part, estimates that the damage to Ellis and Liberty Islands from Sandy will cost $59 million to repair.
Meanwhile, the Islands lose income with each day they are closed.

“We’re missing major revenue streams,” said Peg Zitko, vice president of public relations for the The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, a private not-for-profit group that helps support the national monument.

Read the full article.