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Monday, September 30, 2013

VLC MEDIA PLAYER

Need a versatile, free media player? Look no further:

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72 HOURS

Want (or need) to know what to do in case of a natural (or unnatural) disaster? This site is designed with you in mind:

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PORTALS TO STATE HISTORY SITES

List of 71 general-interest portals to state historical resources:

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PLENTY OF BILLS, NOT ENOUGH BULLETS...

The Confederate States of America suffered shortages of nearly everything else, but they experienced no shortage of paper currency—there were a bewildering variety of national and locally produced currencies:

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Note: Unfortunately for the Southern cause, all of that currency started losing value the moment it left the printing press…

DO YOU NEED AN E-READER?

If you own a smartphone or tablet, do you really need a separate e-reader, since there are now apps that allow you to use that smartphone or tablet as an e-reader? The answer: it all depends:

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UPCOMING CIVIL WAR PROGRAMS AT SLPL

The following talks will take place in the Training Room (2nd Floor, Central Library, 1301 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63103). Programs are free and open to the public. Note: parking is no longer free at meters on Saturdays. Library patrons may park on our lot at the NW corner of 15th & Olive Streets (directly behind the Campbell House Museum—pick up a parking token at the entrance desks on 1st or 2nd Floor when entering the Library). Questions? Email me at tpearson@slpl.org.

Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 10:30 AM-Noon-- Squeezing Your Sources: Getting All the Info You Can From Military Service and Pension Records. 2nd Floor, Training Room, Central Library. Join us as Tom Pearson describes ways to extract all the info you possibly can from compiled military service records and pension records. Pre-registration recommended but not required. To register or for more info, email us at tpearson@slpl.org.

Saturday, December 14, 2013, 10:30 am-Noon—Killed by the Cure: Civil War Medicine. Central Library. 2nd Floor, Training Room, Central Library. Join us as Tom Pearson discusses book, manuscript, microfilm, and Internet sources of information on typical illnesses and injuries suffered by Civil War soldiers, and the methods Civil War doctors and nurses employed to try and heal them. Pre-registration recommended but not required. To register or for more info, email us at tpearson@slpl.org.

SLPL Calendar of Events

PENSION NUMERICAL INDEX, 1860-1934

The Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index, one of Fold3's earliest titles, now has a partner in the recently added Pension Numerical Index. Officially called A1158, Numerical Index to Pensions, 1860-1934, this card index from the National Archives is a great cross-referencing tool as it covers pension application and certificate numbers for men who fought in wars prior to, during, or after the Civil War.

Aside from being a rather cool index, cards may include up to twenty names for low numbers and four or five names for higher numbers. It is a helpful resource for confirming hard-to-decipher numbers on other indexes, or for cross-referencing application and certificate numbers.

While mostly comprised of Civil War and later pension numbers, the earliest cards include entries for soldiers in the Indian War, Mexican War, War of 1812, and "Old Wars," this last covering those who served from the end of the Revolutionary War to the beginning of the Civil War (1783-1861).

The cards are presented in numerical order, yet every card is indexed by name as well. The Pension Numerical Index can be used in tandem with other records on Fold3 like the Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index (T289), and pension files for Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Let's look at a few examples.

Both Army and Navy certificate numbers are referenced. Search for a sailor named John C. Joyce and you'll find the51169 index card on which Joyce is one of five pensioners listed. The other four entries reference Army pensioners by application and certificate numbers. We also find Joyce's pension certificate #36486 cross-referenced on the card. After locating his file within the Navy Survivors' Certificates on Fold3, we find number 36486 indexed with his name, and it appears on many of the documents. Application "No. 51169" is noted on page 19 of Joyce's 89-page file.

A search for Peter Eckley brings us to a card numbered 84353. His name appears in the section for Army certificate numbers of dependants. Eckley was in the Indiana Infantry, Regiment 91, Company H, but the dependant in this case is his widow, Eliza Ann—noted by the "W" on the index card under "service." Of interest within her 42-page pension file are a Fort Wayne undertaker's receipt and a letter to her doctor acknowledging that the government will pay $10 of his bill for $354.75.

Imagine the long history of American military service indexed via the extremely large number of pensioners recorded on these cards. If a serviceman's story isn’t available yet on Fold3 within its extensive sets of military pension files, you can use the information on the Pension Numerical Index to order files from NARA.

Fold3.com

Saturday, September 21, 2013

NATIONAL HOBO CONVENTION

If it’s September, you just missed the National Hobo Convention, held every year in August in Britt, Iowa:

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VINTAGE CANBERRA

Facebook page of the National Archives of Australia that features vintage photos taken in and around Canberra:

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THE MELANCHOLY HARVEST

Furnishing artificial limbs to Civil War amputees was a complicated undertaking for both North and South, as a recent book amply demonstrates:

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LEE’S LIFELINE

Many felt that Charleston (SC) was the major port on the south Atlantic coast—but an influential few knew that Wilmington (NC) was in fact Robert E. Lee’s lifeline:

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

GLORY DAYS

OK—-it’s not genealogy-related, but these vintage Hollywood movie posters (brought to the Web courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library) are just gorgeous:

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NOTE: Their Travel Posters collection is also most impressive!

ATTACK IF PRACTICABLE

Note to Robert E. Lee: if you really want one of your generals to attack, you might consider wording your attack order differently:

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BREAKTHROUGH IN WEST AFRICAN ETHNICITY RESEARCH

Using unique proprietary DNA samples and a variety of statistical approaches, the Ancestry DNA science team has been able to separate West Africa into six separate population groups based on genetic data. This advancement will provide a finer-resolution genetic ethnicity estimate for individuals with West African ancestry:

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HISTORICAL HURRICANE TRACKS

We haven't had much hurricane activity so far this season, but it's not over yet...

See how your hometown (or favorite summer beach getaway destination) has been affected by hurricanes in graphic format:

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DON’T PANIC—IT’S COMING BACK!

Sad because “Who Do You Think You Are?” new episodes have already ended? Don’t be—it’s coming back in 2014, with 10 new episodes (two more than this season):

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PRESERVATION MATTERS

The National Archives at Kansas City will be offering Preservation Matters: Dos and Don’ts, Digital Records, and Disaster Response on Saturday, October 5. The event will feature workshops from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and a Preservation One-on-One clinic from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The presenters include staff members from the National Archives at Kansas City and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. The event will be held at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64108.

Workshop Descriptions:

8:30 – 9:20 a.m.
Preservation Myths: The Things We Do…and What We Should Do Instead
Have you ever opened a box of priceless family records, only to find them torn, brittle, and damaged? Have you tried to fix the damage yourself? You may be surprised to learn that some of these “fixes” irreparably harm fragile documents. Learn how to best care for your paper-based records before the damage occurs.

9:30 – 10:20 a.m.
Caring for Your Family Treasures
Are you hanging on to your wedding dress in the hopes that one day your daughter or granddaughter will wear it? What about all that family china and sterling silver flatware you use at Thanksgiving? Learn how to care for and store your family treasures, and make sure they last for the next generations!

10:30 – 11:20 a.m.
Preserving Your Digital Heritage
In the past, your family’s photographic collection probably consisted of prints made with a single family camera. In the 21st century, we’ve gone digital with our phones, tablets, computers, and cameras. Technology has made it easier to capture memories, but has complicated the process of storing them. This session will show you how to organize, centralize, and protect your collections.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
All Wet! Responding to Floods, Leaks, and Other Damp Disasters
It’s bound to happen. A pipe will burst or a leaky roof will drip, and family papers, books, and photos will be awash in water. Learn quick response tips to salvage sodden heirlooms, and stop or prevent mold damage. Pick up practical advice on spotting disasters just waiting to happen.

12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Preservation One-on-One Clinic - by reservation only
Reserve your 15-minute time slot to bring a single item to the Preservation One-on-One clinic, and receive personal advice on how to preserve it. Call 816-268-8000 or email kansascity.archives@nara.gov to save a seat.

To make a reservation for these free events, please call 816-268-8000 or email kansascity.archives@nara.gov.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY DIGEST

A free PDF of the entire 232-page September 1915 issue of this periodical:

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LIBRE OFFICE

Need a good word processing suite, but Microsoft Office is too darn expensive? LibreOffice Productivity Suite might be just the ticket—and it’s free:

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SHELL-SHOCKED: AUSTRALIA AFTER THE ARMISTICE

Australia suffered 200,000 casualties during WWI (killed, wounded, and maimed for life), a huge number given its overall population at the time. This website displays a sample of documents and photos from a touring exhibit put together by the National Archives of Australia:

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THE BATTLE OF CHAPULTEPEC

September 1847 was a volatile and critical month in the Mexican American War. Although an armistice between the U.S. and Mexico was signed on August 24, 1847, it was short-lived and hostilities resumed with battles at Molino del Ray (September 8) and Chapultepec (September 12-13) just outside Mexico City. General Winfield Scott ultimately claimed Mexico City on September 14, forcing General Santa Anna's Mexican troops to abandon the city in defeat.

The Battle of Chapultepec was bloody, long, and difficult. Marines and soldiers scaled the fortress walls and engaged in close hand-to-hand combat toward the end. It is a well-remembered battle of an oft-forgotten war. The Chapultepec fortress was also known as the Halls of Montezuma and is historically significant for the U.S. Marine Corps. Most of the Marines who fought at Chapultepec were killed in the battle. The Corps' official Marines' Hymn memorializes their bravery and losses, as it begins with a phrase referring to the storming of Chapultepec: "From the Halls of Montezuma."

At the Battle of Churubusco, a few weeks earlier, U.S. troops had captured 85 members of the St. Patrick's Battalion, a Mexican artillery unit comprised mostly of Irish Catholic defectors from the U.S. They were court-martialed and fifty were sentenced to be hanged. However, the hanging of thirty of them was delayed to deliver a message. The thirty condemned men stood with nooses around their necks, waiting to be hanged for several hours until the American flag was raised over the fortress of Chapultepec. They were then provided with a final vision of their treachery.

Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Ulysses S. Grant were three of many who became future leaders in the U.S. Civil War, yet began their military careers in battles near Mexico City.

Explore Mexican War Service Records on Fold3 to learn more about those who fought in these and other battles between the U.S. and Mexico. Be sure to locate the Unit Information which precedes individual service records within each military unit for accounts of the battles in which the units were engaged.

FOLD3.COM

Thursday, September 12, 2013

“WHISTLING DICK” AND THE SIEGE OF VICKSBURG

“Whistling Dick” was a Confederate artillery piece whose shells made a distinct whistling noise when fired. U.S. Navy gunners were told to stop targeting it after numerous attempts to do so had failed:

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ATWATER’S SECRET

Dorian Atwater was a Union prisoner at Andersonville who was given the job of recording deaths there. His Confederate captors assured him they would publish that list of names after the war, but Atwater didn’t trust them—-so he secretly kept a copy of his list hidden in the lining of his coat:

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MAKING SENSE OF MEMORY CARDS

Need to buy a memory card for one of your gadgets (or just want to better understand the ones you already own)? This article by Kim Komando will help:

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SODA COURTESY OF THE NAA

SODA is their Stream of Digital Archives page, where they display scanned images of photos, documents, and various Australian government records recently added to their collection:

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BEACONS BY THE SEA

If you're a sucker for lighthouses (guilty as charged), you'll love this exhibit:

The National Archives holds many drawings and plans of lighthouses from across Australia. Although most of these records were created during the colonial period up to 1901, some are as recent as 1968.

The records were transferred to the Commonwealth when it took control of coastal lighthouses from state and territory governments on 1 July 1915.

In 2002 the Archives launched its touring exhibition Beacons by the Sea, which explored the role of lighthouses, from guiding ships to their part in the unification of Australia under Federation.

Among the exhibits were records from series A9568, including plans of the lights, store rooms, watch houses and light keepers' residences.

NOTE: Click on “Series Title,” then “View Digital Copy” to see an image of that lighthouse drawing; then click “Enlarge” to see a larger version of that image. The larger image can be saved to your computer as a JPEG (for purely personal research purposes, of course).

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

MILITARY AWARDS AND DECORATIONS

If you’ve lost a military award or decoration (or your next-of-kin was entitled to one or more medals), you can request replacements here:

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ANCESTRY.COM CARD CATALOG

Sure, you can use Ancestry.com to search for people, but you’ll often get better results if you search within a specific database, rather than trying to search all of Ancestry at once. To do so, hover over SEARCH in the top menu bar and click on CARD CATALOG.

Now type MISSOURI into the title box (case does not matter in any of the search queries mentioned in this post). My search brought up 282 hits: click on a listed database to search within that database.

Let’s say you are searching for databases with info specifically relating to St. Louis, Missouri. What’s the best way to frame your Ancestry Card Catalog query?

o Doing a title search for ST. LOUIS MISSOURI gets 5 hits.
o Doing a title search for SAINT LOUIS MISSOURI gets 2 hits.
o Doing a title search for SAINT LOUIS gets 5 hits.
o Doing a title search for ST. LOUIS gets 35 hits.

Seems we have a clear winner! However, when using the Ancestry Card Catalog we can also do KEYWORD searches.

o Doing a keyword search for SAINT LOUIS MISSOURI gets 9 hits.
o Doing a keyword search for ST. LOUIS MISSOURI gets 78 hits.
o Doing a keyword search for SAINT LOUIS gets 11 hits.
o Doing a keyword search for ST. LOUIS gets 111 hits.

Once again, seems we have a clear winner, although the contest is a little closer this time.

Now, what if you’re searching a rural county rather than a big city?

o Doing a title search for BOONE COUNTY MISSOURI gets 4 hits.
o Doing a title search for BOONE MISSOURI also gets 4 hits.

It seems to barely matter if you include the word COUNTY in your query, so feel free to omit it (unless you’re searching a very common county name like WASHINGTON or JEFFERSON).

Speaking of Jefferson, you can also check Ancestry Card Catalog to see if it contains any databases specific to a particular city or town.

o Doing a title search for JEFFERSON CITY MISSOURI gets 4 hits.
o Doing a title search for JEFFERSON MISSOURI gets 5 hits (one of which pertains to Jefferson County, Missouri—but Jefferson City is county seat of Cole County).

You’re unlikely to get hits for relatively small cities and towns, but a query in Ancestry Card Catalog only takes a few seconds, so checking won’t take long regardless.

Happy ancestor hunting!

ANCESTRY.COM NEW AND UPDATED DATABASES

You can fairly easily keep track of new and updated databases in Ancestry.com:

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ANCESTRY.COM AND FAMILYSEARCH ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC AGREEMENT

Groundbreaking Agreement to Deliver Valuable Historical Content Over the Next Five Years

PROVO, Utah, September 5, 2013 – Ancestry.com and FamilySearch International (online at FamilySearch.org), the two largest providers of family history resources, announced today an agreement that is expected to make approximately 1 billion global historical records available online and more easily accessible to the public for the first time. With this long-term strategic agreement, the two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records from the FamilySearch vault.

The access to the global collection of records marks a major investment in international content as Ancestry.com continues to invest in expanding family history interest in its current markets and worldwide. Ancestry.com expects to invest more than $60 million over the next five years in the project alongside thousands of hours of volunteer efforts facilitated by FamilySearch.

“This agreement sets a path for the future for Ancestry.com and FamilySearch to increasingly share international sets of records more collaboratively,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry.com. “A significant part of our vision for family history is helping provide a rich, engaging experience on a global scale. We are excited about the opportunities it will bring to help benefit the family history community and look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch to identify other opportunities to help people discover and share their family history.”

The organizations will also be looking at other ways to share content across the two organizations. Both organizations expect to add to the already digitized records shared across the two websites in addition to new record projects to be completed over the next five years.

"We are excited to work with Ancestry.com on a vision we both share," said Dennis Brimhall, President of FamilySearch. "Expanding online access to historical records through this type of collaboration can help millions more people discover and share their family's history."

This marks a groundbreaking agreement between the two services. But the two organizations aren’t strangers to working with each other; hundreds of millions of records have already been shared and are available on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. The companies also announced in early 2013 an additional project where they plan to publish 140 million U.S. Wills & Probate images and indexes over the next three years—creating a national database of wills and other probate documents spanning 1800-1930 online for the very first time.

About Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com is the world's largest online family history resource with approximately 2.7 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 11 billion records have been added to the Ancestry.com sites and users have created more than 50 million family trees containing more than 5 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site www.ancestry.com, the company operates several Ancestry international websites along with a suite of online family history brands, including Archives.com, Fold3.com and Newspapers.com, all designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,800 family history centers in 70 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

FAMILY TREE MAKER 2014

It’s time to announce all the greatest new features of Family Tree Maker. We listened to a large range of Family Tree Maker users to improve our features for 2014 including the roll out of the new Family View display, improved TreeSync, more extensive charts and reports, new organizational tools and more. Below is a list of the newly improved features.

1. New Family View — see your family tree in a new way. This additional view makes navigating easier, especially when you want to see extended family members.
2. Improved TreeSync — lets you easily synchronize your tree in Family Tree Maker with an online Ancestry.com tree. 3. A more robust TreeSync™ lets you sync even more of your family tree info.
4. Easily share your tree with your family and work on it together. Family and friends can view the online version of your tree without software or an Ancestry.com subscription.
5. Collaborate with the largest, most active family history community in the world. Keep your online tree private or make it public so that others researching your family can find you. You may connect with others who have insight on your ancestors, discover rare family photos, or even find relatives you didn’t know you had.
6. More organizational tools — stay organized with new tools that let you sort children automatically by birth order and view people by location, grouping them by country, state, county, and city.
7. New and improved charts and reports — more options and views let you display an individual’s ancestors, spouses, and children together. Also, the Index of Individuals Report has been expanded with options for anniversary, birthday, and contact lists and more.
8. New tree branch export — a new export option makes it much simpler to export a single branch of your tree.
9. More editing options — save time with the ability to copy and paste facts including related source citations, media items, and notes.
10. Improved merging — easily and reliably merge more of the information you find on Ancestry.com.

Family Tree Maker is a great program to help you organize your family history regardless of your level of expertise. With so many features and options, it’s perfect for the genealogist digging deeper into the past and the family historian fleshing out stories. Some of the additional features you may find helpful include:

1. Access interactive street and satellite maps: View important locations in your ancestors’ lives. Or create a migration map showing where events in ancestors’ lives took place.
2. Easily organize media: Add photos, documents, audio and video in one, easy-to-access location. Link media to multiple people in your tree and incorporate them into charts and reports.
3. Share your work with others
Use templates to create beautiful family trees or design your own with powerful charting tools. Enhance charts with backgrounds, embellishments and family photos.
4. Discover new family members — Follow hints from Ancestry.com, the world's largest family history resource.
5. Create Smart Stories — Transform facts from your tree into stories that update automatically as you change your tree.
6. Simplify source creation — Use templates to source everything from online databases to vital records.
7. Use standard location names — Use the locations database to enter place names consistently and in a standard format.
8. Explore data like never before — Use new and improved reports to gather information and export it in a variety of formats. Save settings in one report and apply them to others.
9. Navigate your tree with ease — View multiple generations, navigate to any individual in your tree with a click of the mouse and add or edit life events.
10. Import data from other genealogy programs — Open files created in Legacy™ Family Tree, The Master Genealogist™ and FamilySearch™ Personal Ancestral files.

Version 2014 is now available for pre-sale at 30% off for the early bird genealogist. You’ll have the option to have it shipped to you or download it the same day shipping begins. The pre-sale discount ends September 10th (today!), so get yours now to take advantage of the 2014 launch.

Family Tree Maker Site

SOLVING GENEALOGY PROBLEMS WITH TIMELINES

The National Archives at Kansas City will be offering one free genealogy workshop in September. Solving Genealogy Problems with Timelines with guest speaker, Beth Foulk, will be held on Thursday, September 12 from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. The workshop will be held at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64108.

Workshop Description:

Solving Genealogy Problems with Timelines with Genealogist Beth Foulk
Thursday, September 12 from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

When you create a personal timeline of an ancestor’s life, it is easy to see facts, relationships, and stories emerge that were never before apparent. This class discusses how to create a timeline and their many uses in genealogy research and analysis.

Foulk is a member of the Genealogy Speakers Guild, Association of Professional Genealogists-Heartland Chapter, New England Historical Society, and National Genealogical Society. She holds a masters degree in marketing.

To make a reservation for this free workshop, please call 816-268-8000 or email kansascity.archives@nara.gov.

RIVERBOATS, RAILROADS, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WEST

On Wednesday, September 11 at 6:30 p.m., the National Archives at Kansas City will host Dr. Christopher Gabel for a discussion titled You Can’t Get There from Here: Riverboats, Railroads, and the Development of the West. A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the discussion.

This presentation examines the difficulties of long-distance transportation and trade prior to the development of steam transportation, and explores the impact first of steamboats and then railroads in the opening of the American West. The city of Leavenworth, Leavenworth County, and the state of Kansas serve as examples in demonstrating the vital importance of efficient transportation in the history of the American heartland.

To make a reservation for this free event call 816-268-8010 or email kansascity.educate@nara.gov.

About the Speaker

Dr. Christopher Gabel has served in the Department of Military History of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College since 1983. He has taught classes on general military history, the Civil War, and World War II. He has also conducted numerous staff rides to battlefields of the Civil War. His publications include The US Army GHQ Maneuvers of 1941, The Staff Ride Handbook for the Vicksburg Campaign, two booklets on Civil War railroads, and the U.S. Army’s sesquicentennial pamphlet on Vicksburg.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 15 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by Federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit www.archives.gov/kansas-city/.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

THE SICILY CAMPAIGN

This special edition of The Canadian Military Journal of Military History offers seven articles on the Allied campaign to conquer Sicily in 1943:

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BOLTS FROM THE BLUE

During the 13th century, the English crown purchased (or created in government owned workshops) millions of bolts for crossbows:

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ARMY AVIATION DIGEST ARCHIVE

Free access to issues of this periodical for the period 1955-1979:

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THE GENERAL HOSPITAL FOR NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS IN PETERSBURG, VA

Eight-page brochure (1861) describing this hospital for North Carolina’s sick and wounded boys in gray:

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CURES FROM THE VEGETABLE KINGDOM

What do you do when you can’t afford commercially produced medicines—or the Union naval blockade is limiting your access to such medicines? Why, you make use of locally available roots, bulbs, bark, leaves, twigs, flowers, and seeds:

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Monday, September 02, 2013

SURVIVING D-DAY

This Army vet still wonders how he managed to survive the day he landed on the beach at Normandy:

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CLASSIC CAT

If you could use some relaxing (or rousing, if you prefer) music to listen to while you do your genie net-surfing, this site offers free downloads of great classical music:

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MHM ARCHIVES COLLECTION GUIDES

The following finding aids have recently been added to our Archives Collection Guides page:

David Adams Papers, 1828-1869

David Allan, Jr., Letters, 1862-1865

American Expeditionary Force. 35th Division. 138th Infantry. Company I. Records, 1917-1976

Sam Breadon Collection, 1926-1960