According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, America loses approximately 1,000 WWII veterans every day. Their vanishing legacies have sparked a growing consciousness to capture their stories, even as Ken Burns and PBS showcase the "everyday WWII American heroes" in the upcoming 14-hour long documentary "The War." Ancestry.com is the perfect venue for honoring these everyday heroes and preserving their extraordinary stories.
On Ancestry.com, individuals can create family trees with biographical profiles dedicated to remembering the personal experiences of their ancestors, including those who served in the military. As part of these profiles, users can upload photos, create a timeline of life events, write stories and add scanned images such as letters written from the battlefront, service awards and other precious documents. Now, users can initiate audio recording directly from their family tree, recording conversations over the telephone or through a computer microphone. The new audio tool provides a free, easy method to create and preserve family oral histories. With a webcam, an individual can also record and archive video.
"World War II impacted more lives than any previous conflict. It's time to honor the generation of Americans who took up this cause," said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of Ancestry.com. "We urge people to talk to their families, gather information about their WWII loved ones and archive their experiences before it's too late."
For those interested in delving deeper into their military roots, Ancestry.com hosts the largest collection of U.S. military records available and searchable online, featuring more than 90 million names that span the 1600s through Vietnam. This week, Ancestry.com added two new collections pertaining specifically to WWII, including:
-- WWII Military Personnel (MIA/Lost at Sea) -- More than 90,000 records
of WWII service men who were missing in action or lost at sea from 1941
-- WWII "Stars and Stripes" Newspaper -- More than 145,000 digitized pages
from this military newspaper published during WWII in the European
theater. This week, Ancestry.com added 50,000 images to this
Other WWII databases found on Ancestry.com include:
-- U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records -- Records for more than 8
million individuals who enlisted in the army between 1938 and 1946.
-- U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards -- "Old man's draft"
records include more than 6 million records filled out by men between
the ages of 42 and 64 in 1942.
-- United Newsreel Motion Pictures (1942-1945) -- Only complete online
collection of rare WWII counter-propaganda newsreels.
-- Young American Patriots Military Yearbooks - A series of commemorative
yearbooks featuring photos and short bios of approximately 60,000
soldiers who served in WWII.
* Based on an August 2007 MarketTools, Zsample survey.