WWII Writing Course Announced

This is different! The following announcement was written by the World War II Research and Writing Center:

The World War II Research and Writing Center is pleased to announce the release of a new educational website. WWII Education, which will provide users to online courses, webinars, and more! We are excited to announce the release of our first course, Finding the Answers Through WWII Writing.

Course Description:
Stories have the power to transform us. Throughout our lives, the stories we have heard may shape our identity. They may shape the perspective we have on life, the past, present, and future, ourselves, and those we love. Stories may raise questions about the war, family secrets, those who were lost, and things we discover through our research.

Take a walk with me for five weeks, through a WWII family story. Each week you will receive access to a new module to help you explore your family & military stories. The target of this course is help you put a story on paper and view it from multiple perspectives to see how you, your family, and the story have grown, found answers, peace, and closure. Finally, you will have the opportunity to witness the changes in one of my stories as I vulnerably talk about moments in my life.

We will discuss:

  • Why We Write
  • Identity
  • Perspective
  • Transformation
  • Legacy & Closure

Are you ready to start this journey to explore your family & military stories? Just click the link and get started today!

Researching your service member’s history can be complex. The World War II Research and Writing Center provides expert research experts to tackle your most challenging research questions. Contact us at info@wwiirwc.com for project details and costs. We have researchers on-site at the National Archives facilities to obtain materials within a few weeks, and a network of researchers and tour guides around the globe.



David Paul Davenport April 2, 2018 at 12:54 pm

I am very leery of this. Nothing on the website in the link identifies the academic affiliation of this “Center” nor the names and academic pedigrees of any of the presenters. Moreover, they state that they have people at the National Archives to help with gathering relevant information, but most people know that the personnel records of all who served in WWI, WWII, or the Korean War were held by the National Personnel Records Center in St Louis were a fire in 1973 destroyed 80% of the documentation a competent writer would need to write a “personal history” of any specific person’s military service. As such, I can’t imagine this “Research and Writing Center” will do much other than to provide the same generalized information one would find in a Time-Life Book related to the Second World War and then “speculate” about what “facts” might be relevant. This is often called “Creative non-Fiction” by practitioners of genealogy and family history, but real historians call such work “fiction” and fiction is NOT real history.


Apparently, there are WWII files other than personnel files which were NOT held at the St. Louis site and are intact — daily reports, etc. (It seems it was not without reason that WWII military men were always complaining of red tape and “useless” paperwork that had to be submitted to the brass in triplicate :). There was a very interesting presentation among the live simulcasts from RootsTech explaining how to reconstruct a WWII soldier’s career from these alternate sources. It involves a lot of work, but with persistence a lot of information about individuals may still be recoverable from these other records. I think the presentation is still available for replay on the RootsTech website.


    David Paul Davenport April 3, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you “G” for your comment. Is this the link to the Roots Tech presentation you reference? https://www.rootstech.org/video/finding-the-answers-the-basics-of-wwii-research


    Yes, that’s the session I saw. Unfortunately, I think that only her 1st sessiom was simulcast. I would have liked to be able to see part 2 as well.


    P.S.: The general approach is similar to the way we have used muster rolls, regimental histories and other secondary sources to reconstruct the careers of 18th and 19th century ancestors who served in British army regiments before the War Office began keeping individual personnel records on ordinary enlisted men: 1) Identify the regiment they served with; 2) use the muster rolls to verify their presence with or absence from their regimental unit during specific time periods; 3) use eyewitness accounts of battles by other members of the regiment, regimental histories, and other secondary sources to figure out where that unit was and what it was doing on the days they were known to be present. By fitting all this information together, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, we found it was often possible to form a pretty good estimate of where our guys probably were at specific dates and times on specific battlefields, and make an educated guess at what their personal experiences would have been like.


David Paul Davenport April 4, 2018 at 12:41 pm

G: I am intrigued by the implication of your comment, namely that the National Archives has the muster rolls for WW I regiments. Is this so? Should I be able to “simply” write to the NA and ask for a copy of the muster roll for the 26th Engineers, a regiment formed by oil well drillers in my hometown of Coalinga, California, who engaged in drilling water wells at the Front in northern France to provide soldiers with potable water. I know what they did as a result of newspaper articles but not known that muster rolls exist – it was these that I believed were burned in the St Louis fire.


    Not quite — I was using the process we went through to reconstruct the military service of some 18th and 19th century soldiers for whom no individual personnel files were ever kept as an example to demonstrate the general concept of using military business records from the day to day operations side of the US military during WWI and WWII to reconstruct the service of soldiers whose personnel records were destroyed in the St. Louis fire.
    The muster rolls we used in our quest were among the operational records kept by the British army in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There was no such thing as “the” muster roll a company. Each company produced pages and pages of them on an ongoing basis. We needed the assistance of a researcher who went to the the Brutish National Archives in person to wade through all that paperwork and pull copies of the pages we needed.
    There have been a lot of changes in the methods of military record-keeping during the last couple of hundred years. BUT the need for that kind of day to day status information hasn’t gone away, so it’s a safe bet, it is still being collected by one means or another. I doubt the reports are still called muster rolls. You might try contacting NARA To ask what records they might hold relating to the activities of the 26th Engineers during WWI and where it might be located.
    Also check with the State of California. A lot of WWI units were begun under the auspices of a state and were later taken into the US military and renumbered


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