Recommended Reading: “World War I Genealogy Research Guide” by Debra M. Dudek

Book jacket for the World War I Genealogy Research Guide

Last weekend, the world paid tribute to a significant and somber event, the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War…the war to end all wars, as is was called.

The family line I spend most of my time researching (my father’s paternal Mexican line) did not serve in World War I (WWI). However, those men, all recent immigrants, did register for the draft. So researching my U.S. WWI ancestors just hasn’t ever been very high on my radar. This past Veterans Day, particularly due to the 100th anniversary significance, I felt compelled to dig more into my maternal Flanagan great-grandfather’s WWI service (more on that in a later post).

I finished reading a book today that I want to recommend to anyone who is researching their U.S. World War I ancestors, including females.

My colleague (a fellow librarian!) and friend Debra Dudek, MSc, is the author of World War I Genealogy Research Guide, released earlier this year. I met Debra at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree this past June, where I attended an excellent presentation she gave on “Aliens in the Army” about non-citizen military members who served in WWI.

Although short (95 pages) the book is jam-packed with information about record collections, repositories, and search strategies. Debra’s knowledge and suggestions are particularly helpful if your WWI ancestors’ Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) were destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. She also provides recommendations for learning more about your ancestor’s military service unit, and about females who served as nurses or as volunteers. Of particular interest to my own research, Debra includes a chapter discussing aliens who naturalized while serving in the U.S. armed forces, as well as those men and women who had to register as enemy aliens.

I wish you success researching your WWI ancestors!

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