When NOT to Hire a Genealogy or Military Record Retrieval Person

First, I would like to define a couple of things so readers understand where I am coming from.

Record retriever: Someone who will copy or scan specific records requested by a client, usually based off an 'Add to cart' option of specific, non-flexible record requests. This person may or may not have any idea how to reconstruct military histories because they specialize in pulling specific records only. Usually they do not provide context for the records or explain what they mean. Their job is to obtain records for a client only.

Full service researcher: Someone who obtains various records, customized to a client's specific needs, questions, concerns, and project, to reconstruct military service. This type of researcher provides a fully sourced research report with the documents that show military service. Often you can also request trip planning suggestions if you wish to travel in Europe in your soldier's footsteps. Some firms, like mine, have a network of tour guides and...

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Professional Researchers and Empathy

Happy almost New Year!

The end of 2018 has arrived, although I am not quite sure where this year went. While there were moments it felt as if it dragged on and I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel, most days seemed to fly by. As I sit here in these final hours of the year, I have been journaling a lot about my targets for the early part of 2019. I have been evaluating my business, what it has been, what it can no longer be, and what it must become. Who I must become to create in a new way.

I am writing my memoir and a couple of other books at the same time because the world requires hope and inspiration. I require an outlet for some of what I have experienced and felt. I was also put on this earth to help others discover new possibilities to cope with the unknown and difficult. This is requiring me to be very vulnerable and open. Something that is sometimes difficult.

The research we, as professionals, do for people can have serious repercussions in their lives and...

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Are You Accurately Reconstructing WWII Military Service?

 

I am often asked how to reconstruct a military service file. In this short video I talk about this. Be sure to scroll down to see the additional resources to help you accurately reconstruct military history. You might be surprised to discover reconstruction is not what a lot of people tell you it is.

[embed]https://youtu.be/pn3nISXXn3M[/embed]

Additional Resources

Pick up one of our research books on Kindle or Paperback from Amazon. We have the only books on the market that teach you how to research any 20th century war. The strategies, records, and tools that we teach you for WWII research apply to WWI, Korea, and Vietnam.

Take one of our online courses available at WWII Education.

Educational Articles on Research

Videos

© 2018 World War II Research & Writing Center

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Can We Stop the Stigma of History?

 

The weekend of 14-16 September 2018 I was in Son, Netherlands for the Operation Market Garden (OMG) commemorations and living history for the 101st Airborne. Coming up this weekend in Arnhem, they will be commemorating the British aspect of OMG. As I was in the Airborne re-enactment camp, I spoke to many Dutch people about the stigma of war that still exists in society and families today. I spoke to many about the past, the choices that were made, and how we heal in the present and move forward.

My point of view is, the past is not all black and white or right or wrong or good or bad. It just isn’t one or the other. We live in a completely different time, our way of life is completely different than those who lived through WWII (or any other time period for that matter.) It is not ours to judge the past but to observe, research, understand, see the choices that were made in circumstances we cannot imagine. We were not there so who are we to judge?

What would it take for the...

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Travel Gives a Different Perspective of Our Soldier's History

eto germany travel wwii travel Jul 27, 2018
 

In June 2018 my husband and I took a trip to Germany so I could visit some World War II sites I was researching. We spent a day with Doug Mitchell, who drove us around all along parts of the West Wall, showed us the dragon's teeth, German bunkers, and filled our heads with history. It was a kind of gloomy day which was rather apt for the war theme for the day.

Three years ago I walked in the footsteps of my cousin James Privoznik, KIA 11 January 1945 near Bras, Belgium. I took his final burial flag with me to Europe and flew it over the Luxembourg Cemetery where he sleeps. That trip and walking in his footsteps changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.

Since that time I have walked in the footsteps of other family members and soldiers I am researching for clients who were unable to go to Europe. Walking in these places, seeing the past merge with the present, and the landscape over which they fought and often died, cannot be captured in words and pictures alone. It must...

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Are You Exploring the Entire Military Combat Experience?

I've spent more than 20 years in the fields of genealogy/family history and military history with a focus the last decade on World War I and World War II. I taught myself a lot where genealogy was concerned and attended classes and conferences. I participated in the community's professional genealogy education. Throughout everything I studied or read, the focus was on names, dates, places, sometimes historical context, but never on exploring the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual side of family.

When I began researching in-depth both world wars, which led me to teach and write books on how to research any branch, there was no one to teach me what to do. No one in the country had written educational materials. Yes there were two very outdated books on barely researching Army service, but beyond that nothing existed. The few people who were starting to lecture on this were not going beyond the basics of "all the records burned and here are some online resources." They skimmed...

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Remembering Bernard Tom, 101st Airborne at Margraten

 

Johan and I spent Memorial Day weekend 2018, traveling from the Netherlands to Belgium, to Luxembourg, then back home through Germany. On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we attended the Netherlands American Cemetery (Margarten). Johan adopted two graves there. One is for 101st Airborne Paratrooper, Bernard (Bernie) Tom. Watch Johan tell his story and subscribe to our newsletter list to stay up to date on the book about Bernie which will be released in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, in which he jumped a couple of weeks prior to his death in the Netherlands.

Would you like help researching and telling the stories of your family's service members? Contact us to discuss a research or writing project. Be sure to also check our our online courses to learn how to navigate the records (and the 1973 Fire) and locate information.

© 2018 World War II Research and Writing Center

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Resources for WWII Travel in Europe

There are many stories of war for both World War I and World War II in Europe. We can help you Find the Answers and help you prepare to walk in the footsteps of your service member.

Explore our Quick Guides for Research & Travel

Explore our new General Quick Guides to jump start your research or plan your trip to Europe. They are available in Kindle and Paperback. Branch Specific Quick Guides.

Trip Planning

Fodor’s Travel

Liberation Route WWII Europe

Rick Steves’ Europe I have used Rick’s books to help plan my European adventures and have found them very helpful.

ViaMichelin Maps and Travel Planning

Books

  • Cavanaugh, William C.C. A Tour of the Bulge Battlefield. England: Pen and Sword, 2001.
  • Holt, Tonie and Valmai. Major and Mrs. Holt’s Battlefield Guide to Operation Market Garden. England: Pen and Sword, 2012.
  • Steves, Rick. Europe Through the Back Door 2015. Berkeley: Avalon Travel, 2014.
  • Thompson, Chuck. The 25 Essential World War II Sites: European...
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Finding Your Soldier's Story Program in the Netherlands

Date: 13 January 2018

Time: 13:00

Location: Delware Company BV, Wilgehout 13 3371 KE Hardinxveld-Giessendam Netherlands

This program will be conducted in English.

Program Description:

Have you adopted a grave at an ABMC cemetery? Are you unsure how to locate more information about your soldier?

Are you researching a bomb crew and unsure where to find the crew’s records?

Did you locate dog tags or another item from a soldier and want to know more about his service?

Then this program is for you!

Many questions surround the service history of Americans who served in Europe during World War II. The answers will be given during this program.

Where do I start with my research?
What are the steps I need to take if I have some information?
What records are available and how can they be accessed?
How can I connect with a soldier’s family?

While this program is free, you must register for this program so we know how many to prepare for. Prior to the program you will be sent an email...

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Prague in World War II Tour

Johan and I got married and went on honeymoon in Prague. Initially I thought we’d do some ancestor hunting for me. As far as I’ve researched (back into early 1800s), my family came from Bohemia – later Czechoslovakia. Then we decided no work, no war, and no genealogy. We would only be dreamy honeymooners exploring the city. However we always go with the flow and see what shows up. On our second day in Prague we stumbled upon a brochure for the tour company World War II in Prague. The brochure was exciting and well done. All you had to do was show up at the tour meeting place at the time you wished to go and pay there. How does it get any better than that?

On a rainy Sunday morning at 10:00 at the Powder Tower (just down the street from our hotel,) we met Hannah, our tour guide. There was a small group of less than 10 people which was perfect for asking questions. Our tour started at the Powder Tower and Hannah showed us a map of Czechoslovakia and the surrounding...

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