You are probably familiar with the fantastic genealogical collection at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. What you might not be familiar with is their growing collection of databases available on their website.
One section of the website is “Our Military Heritage,” which is a collection of digitized books, photographs, letters, diaries… anything that pertains to military service. There are resources for military engagements from the colonial wars all the way through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve written about this collection before, but my how it has grown!
The World War II collection has some fascinating resources, including four large collections of letters. “Another Side of War: Soldiers Letters to Miss Ann Adang” includes digitized images of the hundreds of letters sent by twelve soldiers to Ann Adang of Fort Wayne. It is very interesting to read the similarities and differences of the soldiers and sailors from different backgrounds serving in different parts of the world. “Letters of Glenn and Ellen Baker and Letters from Home, World War II” includes the letters exchanged between a husband and wife separated by war.
There is an extensive Civil War section, including unit histories, GAR publications, and pension/service records. One of my favorite resources on this site is Woman’s Work in the Civil War: A Record of Heroism, Patriotism and Patience. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that a copy of my senior honors thesis “With Diplomas of Patriotism: African American Civil War Veterans in Ohio” is also available on this site.)
Some of the resources are quite lengthy, while others, such as the WWI military record of Nicholas J. Martin, are a single page.
Printed materials have been run through an OCR program and are full text searchable.
A Way to Honor Your Military Ancestors
The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library offers you the opportunity not only to research your military ancestors, but also to share your military resources. If you would like to contribute letters to and from service personnel, diaries of military ancestors, copies of pension and service records, pictures of medals and citations, discharge papers, military burials and the like, please contact Curt Witcher [CWitcher@ACPL.Info or 260.421.1226] or simply send digital copies of the military documents (scanned at 300 dpi) to:
The Genealogy Center, Attn.: Curt Witcher, Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza, Ft.Wayne, IN 46802.