Research Tip of the Week

Tip Tuesday

Digitize your photos and documents

Each week I provide a helpful tip that helps create better genealogy researchers. This week my tip is about digitizing photographs and old documents.

**This blog post contains affiliate links and if you purchase items on this post through the links I may receive compensation.**

In the past, it was a complicated chore trying to make copies of photos. In the era of film, most people found it easier to order multiple copies of photos at the time of development than to get duplicates after they developed the film. It could be time consuming and cost prohibitive to get copies of old photos. As a result, people could be possessive of original family photographs.

woman looking at photo
Photo by Luizmedeirosph on Pexels.com

Today, that is not a problem. Technology for the win! Getting digitized copies of photographs and other documents is a breeze with modern technology.

There are several reasons you should start digitizing your photos today.

The number one reason you should digitize your photos and documents is because each time we touch an original, it sustains damage. Wear and tear will add up even with the most careful care. Digitizing your images and documents in their condition today will preserve them as they are now.

Another reason to digitize your photographs and documents is to safeguard your treasures if there is ever a disaster. House fires, tornadoes, floods, and other unfortunate events happen. In a moment’s notice, you can lose everything you own. There is no replacement for an original, but if you lose the original, a digitized copy is great to have.

Digitized photographs are also useful if you need to edit or repair the original photographs. There are several great software options out there for repairing digitized images of old damaged photos. You can copy the digitized original image and run the image through various changes, risking no damage to your original photo. One caveat here is that if you make edits to an original, it is good practice to show it is an enhanced version.

Flip-Pal mobile scanner

The final reason on my list of why you need to digitize your old photographs and documents is to share! A digitized image is easy to share. With the use of digitized photos and online family trees, the landscape of genealogy has changed. It’s a visual experience covering generations and connecting family members who otherwise might have never met. There is no longer a need to hoard family photos for a personal treasure with the ease of sharing digitized photos.

Learn More About the SRRS Solution

Digitize your photos today to better safeguard your research and treasures. It will not only protect your originals and help you fix damaged images, but it opens the door to sharing the images with other relatives. Great research only matters if you take the steps to preserve it.

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Courage Under Fire: Growing up in the South Pacific of World War II. Pt 11

When I last left Fred L. Jacobs and the rest of the men of Company E, 126th Regiment, 32d Division the rages of battle had taken their toll. Six weeks of savage fighting to reclaim the area around Buna left the entire division on the brink of extinction.

Recovery

The remaining elements of the 32d Division went to Australia to recover over the first few months of 1943. It would take until April before all the men of the 32d could fully be evacuated back to Australia.

With the first stage of the Papuan campaign finished, I have turned to The 32d Infantry Division in World War II by Major General H.W. Blakeley as my primary source document for this section of my research. I pulled additional information from HyperWar: New Guinea.

The 32d Division spent months in Australia at Camp Cable getting recovered, retrained, and resupplied. The unit made a miraculous recovery.

Back to New Guinea

December 22, 1943 the 32d Division again returned to the battle plans. They would return to New Guinea.

New Guinea Lines 1943-1944

The Japanese forces had taken a bloodied nose in the first stage of the fighting for the 2nd largest island in the world. Both sides suffered major losses, but the Japanese took the defeat at Buna. Despite that fact, they were still a formidable foe. The Japanese held the strategic advantage in the South Pacific. They had plans to make for Port Moresby.

The Allied forces were pushing back against Japanese strongholds across the Pacific realm. Operation Cartwheel was the name of the Allied offensive. One by one, the operation claimed places the Japanese had inhabited. The 32d Division would join the larger efforts by taking part in Operation Dexterity.

Operation Dexterity

The 32d Division would take part in efforts to neutralize enemy forces at Saidor. The move would help to sever the Japanese supply lines. Assigned to the Michaelmas Task Force, the division would take part in a beach landing. Battle plans, drawn up with only the aid of aerial photographs, split the force into 3 groups, each with an assigned beach for landing. They called the landing points red, white, or blue. They would split the second battalion of the 126th up with one company landing on the white beach and one on blue. Leadership set D-day for January 2, 1944.

32d Division Troops Saidor
Troops of the 32d Division near Saidor.
(DA photograph)

The beach landing near Saidor went smoothly. Few enemy troops were in the area and they killed most of those in the first push. American casualties of the landing were small, 1 killed, 5 wounded and 2 drowned. Over 6700 troops successfully made the landing. The Saidor area was home to a prewar air field. Getting the air field operational was a key part of the Saidor mission.

For the next several months, elements of the 32d Division patrolled and protected the area of operations around Saidor. The Japanese forces withdrew from the area east of the line, bypassing the men at Saidor, and engaging in a brutal march through the mountainous terrain to reach other Japanese forces at Madang.

The reports from the days as they passed detail small pockets of enemy resistance around the Saidor area. Information on the 2nd Battalion of the 126th puts the men near Sel on January 5, 1944. The forces faced off with a contingent of enemy forces the same day. Days passed with little enemy activity. January 8th saw another small attack by the Japanese.

Beyond the enemy, the terrain of New Guinea once again proved to be punishing. Rain fall totals during the time range during some days in the double digit range. Monsoons battered the island.

In March, the 2/126th accepted a new mission. The battalion moved to Yalua Plantation. They received the task of cleaning up straggling enemy forces. The men of the 126th landed on March 5. On April 14, they contacted the Australian forces. Operation Dexterity was a success.

The mission to take Saidor was a huge improvement over the missteps of the battle of Buna. The Allied forces were turning the tide.

Follow my blog to continue my mission to retrace the steps of Fred L. Jacobs and the rest of the men of Company E, 126th Regiment, 32d Division during their service in the southwest Pacific of World War II

Research Tip of the Week

Maps add extra context to your research.

tip Tuesday graphic

Each week I try to provide a research tip. This week my tip is about maps. Maps are an important genealogical tool. They add extra context to the lives of the people we research. I have used maps heavily in my blog series about Fred L. Jacobs to help explain the landscape of battles.

Looking at a historical map of an area and time that your ancestors lived can help you get a better understanding of their day-to-day life. Did they live in an industrial area? Perhaps they lived on a farm.

Was the area dominated by a certain profession such as coal mine workers in a coal town. Perhaps it was a coastal area dominated by shipping and seafaring trades. Looking at a map can show the landscape and provide clues. Examining the area in which ancestors lived provides depth to genealogy research.

West Virginia Archives & History: MAPS &emdash; Ma066-14

Did your ancestor live in a wealthy area or a poverty-stricken area? By looking at a map, you might better understand if they were from a more well off area. Or a map might explain why every son in a single family enlisted in the military. That was the case in one branch of my family where the options were coal mining or war.

Maps open the door to other clues.

Using maps can also reveal information that might not be otherwise be obvious otherwise. Proximity was important in an age where people may not have traveled far during their lifetime.

Is there a church near where they lived that they may have attended? That might suggest a place to search for records. Schools and cemeteries are two other things that looking at the map may reveal. Maps are valuable because they can help direct your genealogical research on a local level.

1920 Flint, Michigan map
1920 Flint, Michigan

Maps can be helpful in locating other relatives. If you have two people and you are trying to determine if they may have crossed paths in life by comparing locations on a map it may be possible to decide if it was probable that two individuals knew each other. Maps can provide information to help us weigh the quality of other evidence we are faced with during research.

Where are some places you can get an idea of where your ancestors lived?

  • Census records
  • City directories
  • Draft cards
  • Vital records

Here is a great guide to using maps in genealogy that is really recommend.

Free online genealogy courses. Worth the time?

Once upon a time, there was a woman who questioned the value of free online courses. The woman was me. The time was nearly six weeks ago. That was when I signed up for the Future Learn genealogy course by the University of Strathclyde Glasgow. I am rapidly approaching the final week of the course, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the program.

Genealogy: Researching your family tree.

The course instructors are Tahitia McCabe and Graham Holton. Both Tahitia and Graham instruct other courses at the University of Strathclyde at Glasgow. Tahitia is the course leader and Graham is the head tutor in the MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies program at the school.

books
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Things to love about this course.

There were several things about this course that won me over. The first thing I really enjoyed about the program was the structure. Each week, the instructors release a new module. Students can work through the material as their schedule allows. I found personally that I enjoyed breaking the weekly course material into two study sessions each week.
You perform exercises suggested throughout the course and converse with classmates in a comments section on each page or you can attend the study group in the tab at the top of the page. Tahitia and Graham also interact with students through the course to answer questions, adding a very beneficial element to the course.

Sprinkled through the course are small quizzes. They are 5 questions, optional to complete, and your score doesn’t affect your ability to complete the course. I found these to be a great self-test as I moved through the course.

During week 5, there was probably my favorite part of the entire genealogy course. There was a strong focus on DNA, which I found very enjoyable and they host 2 livestreams with Tahitia and Graham. In the livestreams you get to meet virtually with the instructors and ask questions that remain unanswered. They went to great lengths to answer every question and even ran over their scheduled time answering questions.

A couple finer details.

Don’t let yourself get sucked down too many rabbit holes. The instructors loaded the course with great resources and the comments section reveals a great deal many more gems. Save the links and investigate them later to focus only on the lessons given or you might spend hours just looking at great new research resources.

The school that offers the course is in Scotland and many of their topics are heavy in records for that region. As someone who focuses on North American genealogy, I found that part of the course is exceptionally helpful. It gave me a greater understanding of what sort of records I should search for when I research genealogy in Scotland.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who learned she was wrong.

My takeaway from my experience with the genealogy course on Future Learn is that there can be great value in a free online course. This course has something to offer new genealogy researchers or experienced genealogy researchers alike. I am glad that I took the time to test my theory on free online classes with this one. For those interested, you can pay for either an individual course certificate or subscription to Future Learn and get a certificate of completion for the course. The next Genealogy: Researching your family tree course begins in March 2020.

Future Learn also offers several other classes that can be helpful to genealogy researchers. I recommend going to the site and doing a quick search for either history or DNA.

My rating for this course?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you taken any free online courses that you enjoyed? I’d love to hear about your learning experiences in the comments!

Courage Under Fire: Growing up in the South Pacific of World War II. Pt 10

Courage Under Fire

In my last post about Fred L. Jacobs and the other men of Company E of the 126th the troops were in rough shape. They had launched 3 failed attempts on Buna Mission with catastrophic consequences. By the end of December 19, 1942, most of the men of the 32nd had suffered either combat injury or jungle sickness. The 127th came in to relieve the men of the 126th, the men of the 2/126th moved to the rear to recover.

Buna Mission

The 127th faced the same daunting challenge of merciless crossfire in the triangle. Leadership realized that the task required a new approach. On December 20, 1942, they abandoned attempts to cross the triangle.

Battles raged across the area while the men of Company E were getting recovered. Losses were significant, but they made progress. By December 28th, 1942, the Japanese forces, cut off from the attack on the new approach, could not hold the triangle. The Japanese forces abandoned their 14 bunkers before the Allied forces could take the area.

“I walked along there and found it terrifically strong. It is a mass of bunkers and entrenchments surrounded by swamp. It is easy to see how they held us off so long.”

General Eichelberger to 
General Sutherland After touring the triangle

December 29, 1942

Urbana force was now in the position to take Buna Mission. On December 29, 1942 they moved the men of 2/126th back into the line. They moved into the area of Government Gardens to join the push on Buna Mission. The final attack on Buna Mission would jump off on the morning of December 31, 1942.

Battle of Buna Mission map

While heavy fighting raged around Buna Mission, the men of the 2/126th including Company E, made gains that day. They cleared the Government Gardens of enemy forces and gained about 300 yards of territory. On the Japanese side, the forces were becoming desperate in the face of Allied advances.

January 1, 1943

The fall of Buna Mission was imminent as Allied forces approached from all directions. The Japanese started attempting to escape the advancing forces. On January 1, 1943, Japanese troops were spotting trying to swim away from Buna Mission. Leaders of the Japanese troops, Colonel Yamamoto and Captain Yasuda, met at a central point and killed themselves in the traditional Japanese manner of slitting their own bellies.

The remaining Japanese forces dug in at Buna Mission continued a fight to the death. By 1700, the battle for the mission was over. After six weeks of fighting, the battle for the Buna region was officially complete.

January 9, 1943

Elements of the 126th would see further fighting in the jungles of New Guinea. On January 9, 1943, the last of the 126th received relief. The toll had been heavy. When the 126th marched into the battle of Buna they had numbered 1400 fighting men. On January 9th, they were down to 165. Those 165 were in bad shape.

The Heavy Toll

The 126th evacuated for Port Moresby on January 22, 1943. The report on troop strength on January 20, 1943 showed Company E with 1 officer and 16 enlisted men in fighting shape.

32d Division troops departing for Port Moresby, 4 Feb 1943
DOBODURA AIRSTRIP. 32d Division troops departing for Port Moresby, 4 February 1943.

The Papuan Campaign was one of the costliest in terms of human life lost of the entire Pacific region. The men of the 126th were off for a heavy dose of rest and recuperation in Australia.

Fred L. Jacobs was awarded 3 purple hearts during his service in World War II. I don’t know the details of how he was injured but looking at the casualties experienced by Company E I suspect one of his purple hearts were earned around Buna.

Follow my blog to continue the journey of Company E. 126th Infantry Regiment, 32d Division through the South Pacific of World War II.

Research Tip of the Week

Tip Tuesday

Take advantage of family gatherings.

This week many families will gather together to celebrate the things they are thankful. These multi-generational events are an excellent opportunity to share the latest genealogical discoveries because the audience is captive at least until someone cuts the pie. Beyond the chance to share family lore though, holiday gatherings can often provide a great chance to preserve family history. Holidays are a wonderful time to do family interviews.

Personal interviews do not have be a formal affair. All you really need is a willing participant, your cell phone to record the interview, and a few questions. Pick a quieter area and have a casual chat.

people at dinner
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The best idea is to start with the oldest member at the gathering if they are willing and able. Start the interview by turning on your cell to record audio and announcing the name of the interview subject and the date of the interview.

Try to guide the interview toward more positive memories but allow the conversation to flow. Family history interviews can provide some interesting genealogical tidbits, but only if you ask. After your interview make sure to thank the individual you interviewed and save your recording. Holiday season can provide many great situations for genealogical digging.

Get started with a few easy questions!

  • Where and when were you born?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Who is the oldest relative you remember?
  • What is your favorite childhood memory?
  • Who was your favorite relative growing up?
  • What were some of the holiday traditions of your childhood?
  • What was your childhood home like?
  • What were the names of their parents?
  • Did you have siblings?
  • What is the longest trip you have even been on?

UCLA Library has a center for Oral History Research. They have a great outline for a family history interview.

Family history is not only digging up old records. It is creating new records today to leave for future generations. Take the time to sit with an older relative this holiday season and record their memories for generations to come. It can add a great extra element for future generations to find and add a fun layer to your current holiday season.

Here is a great article from Family Search about how to easily capture audio with their app.

Do you need great images? Here is the solution!

FTC Technicalities: I did receive compensation to promote this product. iClipart was generous enough to provide me with opportunity to review their product and share it with you but the opinions and thoughts here are my own.

I am a genealogist.

I wear many hats in life but at my core I am a genealogist and I would rather be alone somewhere doing research than most other activities. My family understands this and they tolerate and even indulge my quirks. I often apologize to my family because I’d rather be researching. With a half hearted explanation, I inform them I will like them better when they are dead too…

Blogging has given me a great way to share my genealogy research and the tricks and tips I learn along the way. I can focus on writing my blogs because it is just another step in my genealogy research. There a million minor details that go into writing any blog post and those get me. I’d rather slam my finger in the door than study Google Analytics, spend hours crafting the perfect headline, or pour over millions of graphics looking for that perfect image to make a blog post pop. All these things are sadly details that shape a great blog. The devil is in the details and I am not a fan of some of those details.

Graphics made easy with iCLIPART.com

Anytime I can find something that makes those more mundane tasks easier to slog through, I am a fan. Enter iCLIPART.com. A lot of times in genealogy blog posts, a related image just doesn’t exist. Blogging 101 tells everyone that a great blog post includes at least one image. Humans are visual creatures. If you poke around long enough, you can find images in the public commons, but finding quality images in some of those platforms can be a chore. ICLIPART.com is a budget friendly option that can put millions of useful quality images at your fingertips.

I typed in a few keywords relevant to genealogy and the site left me amazed and excited. Suddenly, I don’t search for a suitable image for hours. I am now trying to decide between a group of great options. The site has so many great options that I am saving some of them just so I can write a blog post to use the great image!

Great Vintage Photos

This is the first image I had to grab. The instant I spotted this one I just knew it had to be on my blog. I am not sure what blog title it conjures just yet but I love this image.

Victorian era girl covering mouth
Great image from iCLIPART.com

I am a genealogist at my core. I am a writer by default. I am not a photographer or graphics designer. I will admit my limitations so I can focus on my strengths. I love that iCLIPART.com takes most of that need out of the equation.

Family Tree Templates

Here are two of their family tree images. I can see these being a great addition to any family research project.

tree image
iCLIPART.com Graphic
tree image
iCLIPART.com Graphic

The folks at iCLIPART.com also shared an exclusive deal for readers of Dusty Roots and Forgotten Treasures.

BABYDOLLSPLAYGROUNDY5CZ Promo Code 20% off all one year subscriptions

Look for the latest deals at Dealspotr

I wish I had found this site sooner! If you need great images to give your blog or project a finished look check out iCLIPART.com.

Courage Under Fire: Growing up in the South Pacific of World War II. Pt 9

Buna Mission

On December 9, 1942, Company E of the 126th was a beat up force. The losses they had taken during the repeated attempts to take Buna village were significant. Relief forces arrived and Company E moved to the rear. Buna village fell to U.S. forces on December 14, 1942.

December 16, 1942


With the fall of Buna village, the tide appeared to be turning in favor of the Allied forces. Battles continued to rage as the fortified Japanese forces remained determined to keep a stranglehold on parts of the island. Company E would not remain long in the rear. On December 16, 1942, the 2/126th received orders sending it back into battle.

Buna mission remained an enemy stronghold. The 2/126th would be part of the push to take the mission. Battle plans sent the men of the 2/126th to the Coconut Grove above and below the triangle. The aim was to take the triangle. Japanese forces were dug in at Buna mission the area was a natural fortress. Few approaches were workable and well-placed enemy positions protected those.

December 18, 1942

Dec 18-28 1942

The plan was for 2 companies of the 126th to attack across the bridge from the Coconut Grove. Air support would pound the enemy but because of the contained area once the ground troops began moving they would be on their own. 100 men from Companies E and G, with a supporting weapons crew from Company H would lead the attack.

The troops crossed the bridge at Entrance Creek and moved into the bridgehead area at the mouth of the triangle at 2200.

Bridge over Entrance Creek
Bridge over Entrance Creek

December 19, 1942


0650 the Japanese forces saw the daybreak to a barrage of mortars, artillery, and bombs coming from the air. A final barrage of mortars rained down on the enemy at 0730.

0745 The men of Company E and G began to approach straight south. Enemy crossfire stopped the approach within yards. Hours passed as the men remained pinned down and losses mounted. They made a second push at 1415, again they were cut down by crossfire. The men tried a third futile attempt at 1600.

By nightfall, 40 of the 107 men who started the attack had been killed or wounded. The 127th was brought in to relieve the battered forces.

The jungles of Papua have taken a heavy toll on the men of the 32nd Division as of mid December 1942. An enemy that was supposed to be a pushover just keeps proving their fierce determination and resolve. The men of Company E, 126th regiment were still not done in the jungles of the Buna region.

Free Courses for Genealogy Research Success

Frugal Finds

I have raised 3 kids. Well 2 and a half… one is still floating around the nest for a few more years. One thing raising kids taught me was how to be frugal. I’m annoyingly cheap. That carries over into my genealogy. I splurge on my ancestry account, but mostly I spend my genealogy dollars carefully.

I take advantage of a lot of free research resources. I have a list of sites I rely on to provide me with research information that might be harder to find on bigger sites. I also take advantage of a lot of free courses. The Internet is full of free genealogy courses, webinars, videos, and how to articles. Sometimes the trick is knowing where to look to find the best resources among the vast noise out there.

books and glasses
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Future Learn

Recently I took the Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree course on Future Learn. The course is 6 weeks long, taught by instructors at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, and offered free on the Future Learn open course platform. I cannot say how much I enjoyed the course. It is great for beginners, but even experienced researchers will get great information. There are quite a few other courses on Future Learn that could interest researchers.

Evidence Explained

The National Genealogical Society offers a certificate in American Genealogical Studies. The certificate course comprises 4 classes that teach different aspects of genealogical research. The classes are a great value but out of my budget, so I looked at what I could find about the course that might be helpful. The required materials for the second two classes of the program include a book called Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Elizabeth Shown Mills is a fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. She is an expert in the field and her book is an irreplaceable resource. She has brought some of her knowledge to a series of quick lessons on her site Evidence Explained.  On her site, she provides 26 quick lessons that provide in-depth explanations of evidence and how to understand what it means.

There is a wealth of free learning resources on the Internet. What are some of your favorite free learning finds?

**No plugs just honest opinions. I receive no compensation for this post.**