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Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

In September 1774 the farmers of Middlesex County rose up and ended royal government in most of Massachusetts. For the next seven months, Patriot activists and the British governor raced to seize artillery. Cannon disappeared from ships, shore batteries and even armories under redcoat guard. In Newton, citizens voted to form their own artillery company. Join John Bell, author of The Road to Concord, as he uncovers the hidden history that led to the Revolutionary War. The program is cosponsored by Historic Newton. A book signing will follow. [From the Newton Free Library’s online Calendar of Events.]

From the publisher of The Road to Concord:

“Here is the suspenseful story of how a handful of mechanics in 1774 smuggled Boston’s brass cannon out of town from under the noses of the British troops. J. L. Bell is a historical detective par excellence who has recovered an important, little-known episode of the onset of the American Revolution.” —Alfred F. Young, author The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution

“In this well-researched narrative, Mr. Bell provides an interesting twist on the usual account of the British march to Concord on April 18-19, 1775. Mr. Bell’s retelling of the story from the point of view of missing cannon demonstrates in a compelling and convincing manner why General Gage was especially anxious that his troops reach Concord.”—Patrick M. Leehey, Research Director, Paul Revere House, Boston

In the early spring of 1775, on a farm in Concord, Massachusetts, British army spies located four brass cannon belonging to Boston’s colonial militia that had gone missing months before. British general Thomas Gage had been searching for them, both to stymie New England’s growing rebellion and to erase the embarrassment of having let cannon disappear from armories under redcoat guard. Anxious to regain those weapons, he drew up plans for his troops to march nineteen miles into unfriendly territory. The Massachusetts Patriots, meanwhile, prepared to thwart the general’s mission. There was one goal Gage and his enemies shared: for different reasons, they all wanted to keep the stolen cannon as secret as possible. Both sides succeeded well enough that the full story has never appeared until now.

The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War by historian J. L. Bell reveals a new dimension to the start of America’s War for Independence by tracing the spark of its first battle back to little-known events beginning in September 1774. The author relates how radical Patriots secured those four cannon and smuggled them out of Boston, and how Gage sent out spies and search parties to track them down. Drawing on archives in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, the book creates a lively, original, and deeply documented picture of a society perched on the brink of war.

J. L. BELL is the proprietor of Boston1775.net, a popular website dedicated to the history of the American Revolution in New England. A Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and American Antiquarian Society, he is author of the National Park Service’s study of George Washington’s work in Cambridge, and has delivered papers to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Organization of American Historians, and historic sites around greater Boston.

From The Curious Genealogist: Take a minute to click on the link to Bell’s blog Boston 1775 in green directly above.  If you have any interest in history or Boston, you’ll probably be staying far longer than a minute. It will be time well spent.

vea/6 July 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

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Yearbooks and How They Can Be Used

Part of Newton Free Library’s Collection of Yearbooks

Most of us are familiar with high school yearbooks. We probably have at least one from our own senior year. They may be filled with signed comments from our fellow graduates, some funny, some not so much. … Going through them brings back all sorts of memories and can spark stories. You may have tucked graduation programs and other loose mementos into it that were important to you. Collections of high school yearbooks in public libraries are potent resources that are used often and for various purposes. They can be consulted by reporters for news stories, checked by people writing biographies, searched by people looking for pictures of their parents or grandparents or for birth parents whom they have never seen.

One Special Yearbook

The yearbook with its acid-free archival case.

What is it that sparks my current focus on yearbooks? A local high school is making available to our library whatever yearbooks we need or would like to add to our collections.  A member of our reference staff, Kim Hewitt, is working with materials in our Special Collections room. In this capacity she visited the high school library to take a look at what it has. When Kim checked a copy of one 1937 Newtonian yearbook for loose ephemera, she discovered something extraordinary. Someone had kept clippings about the graduates, especially those who served in World War II. On almost every page there were tipped-in newspaper articles about graduates pictured on that page, usually stories about their military service. Some described their current activities overseas. Some were death notices. The articles span events and battles over a number of years. Personal milestones, such as marriages, are the subject of other clippings. In short, it is a genealogist’s gold mine of information.

If something has been “tipped in,” it means you can lift the material and see what’s underneath.

This yearbook has now become a part of Newton’s Special Collections. If you have a relative who graduated from Newton High School in 1937, it’s worth a look. If you are interested, its catalog title is Newton High School Class of 1937 and World War II.” The call number is N 373.34 N38M.  Clicking on the preceding title will take you directly to its entry in our online catalog.  It does not circulate and must be used within the library.

Compact Shelving with one opening. If you want to get into the first bay on the far left, all the other bays have to be moved forward.

A Note about Compact Shelving and Viewing Material from Newton’s Special Collections

Since the 1937 yearbook mentioned above is so unique and also fragile, it will be kept in what is known as compact shelving, not on the open Special Collection shelving.   Using compact shelving saves a great deal of space but requires the movement of heavy shelving electronically. Newton’s compact shelving is run by machinery that is old and can be somewhat cranky.  It needs two people to open it to retrieve material kept there. If you are thinking of coming in to look at this item, or other collections from compact shelving, it would help if you let us know in advance. If we know when you are coming, we can pull material for you ahead of time.

Actually it’s always a good idea to plan ahead with any library you are visiting. Check in advance for any special restrictions or rules for viewing or copying fragile or unique material. What are the library’s hours? Do they change depending on the season? Will the library be closed due to construction or maintenance during the period you are planning on coming? Are all its collections on site or does it need time to retrieve them from offsite storage? Whenever you request an item from a library, having its name and call number will speed up the process. Any library should allow you to search its online catalog, no matter where you live.

You and Your Own Family’s Yearbooks

Do you know if your family members, especially aunts, uncles, and grandparents, have yearbooks they would be willing to show to you? They might even share memories of their high school years and their friends.  Don’t forget that many local libraries actively collect and also accept gifts of high school yearbooks. Each one that has been owned by a graduate has unique inscriptions by classmates and some may have the owner’s own notations. Public libraries located near where your relatives or ancestors lived may have their own such treasure troves from their local schools.  Some may even have been given to them by your relatives or their friends. It’s worth checking. While you’re at it, don’t forget to look in your own attic, basement, or bookcase. Do you have your parents’ or grandparents’ yearbooks?  You might want to take a closer look at them. You never know when you’ll strike unexpected gold. And if you find them in the basement or attic, you might want to move them to a bookcase on your main floor. They’ll last longer.

Good luck with your quest, wherever it takes you.

vea/13 June 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

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1917 "Somewhere in France" 1918 Diorama at Newton City Hall, Newton, Massachusetts

1917 “Somewhere in France” 1918, from the Diorama at The War Memorial, Newton City Hall, Newton, Massachusetts

 

The following links are offered to help you find more information on the war that changed the world.

National Archives (United States)
World War I Centennial: Remembering the Great War

New England Historic Genealogical Society
American Ancestors
World War I and World War II U.S. Veteran Research
Study Guide by David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist

Massachusetts in the World War: A Bibliography
Prepared by James T. Controvich
March 28, 2017
Massachusetts World War I Centennial Commission

Boston at War:  Massachusetts in World War I Stories
By Anatole Sykley
Massachusetts World War I Centennial Commission

World War I: The Great War
Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Web

(Re)Discovering the Great War
by Simon Chaplin and Jeffrey S. Reznick
Posted by Circulating Now from the U.S. National Library of Medicine

The United States World War I Centennial Commission
Why the Great War Matters
World War I Genealogical Resources
 
National World War I Museum and Memorial
Kansas City, Missouri

 

vea/6 April 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

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Gun squad at drill
In remembrance of the commencement of the Civil War in April 1861, and to commemorate Confederate History Month, Fold3 is offering free access to our Civil War Collection from April 1st–15th.

Popular titles in our Civil War Collection include:

Not sure if you have Civil War ancestors? Use these questions to help identify ancestors who may have served:

  • Were any of my male ancestors born between 1820 and 1845? (Men who served during the Civil War may have been born outside these dates, but many fell within these years.)
  • Do I have any family memorabilia or artifacts (such as letters, weapons, medals, or photos) that hint at possible Civil War service? What about their tombstone? Does it have any insignia or other military symbols on it?
  • Do any of the records or documents (such as obituaries) I’ve already found for an individual mention Civil War service?
  • Have I checked the 1910 Census entry for my ancestor? (Column 30 of the census identified if an individual was “a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy.”)

Can’t find your Civil War ancestor on Fold3? You can still use Fold3 to learn about what your ancestor’s military service may have been like. Here are a few ideas, though the possible uses of the Civil War Collection are endless!

  • Use the Brady and Civil War photo collections, as well as the Civil War Horse Soldier Artifacts Collection, to learn what life was like for soldiers during the war, including what uniforms and firearms were common, what military camps and headquarters were like, what battlefields and forts looked like, etc.
  • Look through the Service Records and “Widows’ Pensions” of men who were in the same company, regiment, etc., as your ancestor to learn more about what battles he may have been involved in and the movements of his unit.
  • If you have Confederate ancestors, explore the Confederate Casualty Reports for your ancestor’s unit to learn about casualty rates and even read narrative reports of actions your ancestor may have been involved in.

Start searching or browsing the Civil War Collection on Fold3. Or learn more about how to find your Civil War ancestors by watching a helpful course or tutorial on Ancestry Academy!

Written by Trevor at Fold3
Posted by vea/3 April 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

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The Newton War Memorial was dedicated on Armistice Day, 11 November 1931, to honor all those in the military who served, who fought, and who died to protect our country’s freedoms. The following photographs depict parts of that ongoing memorial.

DSC01752 front

The Entrance to Newton’s War Memorial

 

DSC06223

DSC06225

 

The Vietnam War was fought from November 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975.

DSC06240

 

The Korean War was fought from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.

DSC06238

 

World War II  was fought from September 1, 1939 to September 2, 1945. The United States entered the war on December 8, 1941.

DSC06277

 

The conflicts before World War II are represented by dioramas.

 

World War I was fought from July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918. The United States formally declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

DSC06232“Somewhere in France” 1917 – 1918

 

The War Between the States was fought from the firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 to Lee’s surrender to Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.

DSC06237Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863

 

The War of 1812 was fought from June 18, 1812 to February 18, 1815.

DSC06229The American Constitution vs. the British Guerriere on August 19, 1812

 

The Revolutionary War was fought from April 19, 1775 to September 3, 1783.

DSC06245Valley Forge, the Winter of 1777 to 1778

 

DSC02075 flags horizontal pixThe MIA and American Flags, Still Flying, in Front of the War Memorial

 

vea/26 May 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

 

 

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“U.S. troops go over the side of a Coast Guard manned combat transport to enter the landing barges at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, as the invasion gets under way.” November 1943. This picture is from the National Archives online.

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With Memorial Day almost upon us,  we remember family members who have been in the military, those who fought and those who died protecting the freedoms that we still enjoy. We regret that we don’t know more about them and what they went through.  Over the past few months I have been working on a guide to finding information on family members who fought in World War II.   It is in a relatively new software format known as a LibGuide.

Using LibGuides

This guide is divided into four sections represented by  four tabs to the left. You can move from one section to the other by clicking a tab. The guide, for now,  includes books and websites.  Eventually links to relevant blogs, blog postings, and articles may also be included.  Books are linked to the library’s online catalog.  Click on a specific title and you will find out whether or not it it available at Newton. It will also give you all the book’s bibliographic information. This will help you locate the book if  you belong to a library network other than Minuteman.  All website links listed are live links.  Just click on them and you are there.

Each highlighted heading that follows will bring you to the tab/page being discussed.

How to Do  Research, Find Records, and Get Help

When you first go into “Finding Family Members Who Fought in World War II”, you will find books to help you with your military research, two specifically dedicated to World War II.  You will also find links to various web sites, such as the military records section of the National Archives and indexes to other online resources.

Personal Narratives: A Rich Source of Information

Material reached by clicking the second tab will include two types of personal narratives.  The first is military narratives. There is a wealth of information that can be found in the writings of individuals who actually served during the war.  This type of work often lends added insight and background information to your own search,  not to mention some understanding of what these people went through, especially before, during, and after fighting. The books listed in these sections are just a tiny selection of what is available. If you click on a book of interest, the record that comes up will include subject headings.  You can click on a heading to bring up other books or use a heading as the basis for a keyword search.

The other type of personal narrative included here are those of family members who sought to find either additional information on individuals or to locate family members missing in action. The books contain specific information on the methods of a search and where relevant information was found. It might help you in your own search.

Histories of Military Branches, Regiments, Sqaudrons, Ships, Crews…

This section (the third tab) includes works written about regiments, divisions, and broader service histories, as well as smaller groups.  These are often overlooked sources of information that can be of tremendous help once you find in what part of the military your family member served.  It may give you additional sources of information when you come up against a brick wall in your search.  It also helps to put an individual’s service into a broader context.

The Difficulty of Remembering and Saving Wartime Memories

The last section provides information for veterans who are considering saving their personal military experiences before they are lost.  This  is often done so that their fellow combatants, their friends,  will not be forgotten.  The combat veteran faces a unique and difficult challenge.  “Do Bar Fights Count?,” written by a woman who helps veterans and runs writing workshops for them, explains the problem.  War is traumatic.  It forever changes a person who has been through battle. To write about it is to relive it as though it is happening now.  I had a cousin who was a young medic on Omaha Beach. He told me that you grow up quickly when you have your best friend die in your arms. Only the combat veteran who has gone through battle understands its deep, personal costs. They deserve nothing less than our gratitude, our understanding, and our deep respect.

vea/24 May 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

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A Genealogist In The Archives

FINDING ANSWERS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Newton, Massachusetts

Boston 1775

FINDING ANSWERS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Newton, Massachusetts

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The Daily Online Genealogy Newsletter

The Legal Genealogist

FINDING ANSWERS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Newton, Massachusetts

Nutfield Genealogy

FINDING ANSWERS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Newton, Massachusetts

One Rhode Island Family

My Genealogical Adventures through 400 Years of Family History